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Patriots to open Gillette Stadium against Eagles

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Gillette Stadium (68,000) – Grass

8:00 p.m., EDT

This week's game will be broadcast nationally on CBS. Greg Gumbel will provide the play-by-play detail and will be joined by broadcast partner Phil Simms. They will also be joined by Armen Keteyian from the sidelines.

WBCN's Rock Radio Network 104.1 FM will be the Patriots flagship station for the eighth consecutive season. Gil Santos, who enters his 25th season as voice of the Patriots, will call the action along with Gino Cappelletti. The tandem is entering their 17th year together.

The New England Patriots will officially christen Gillette Stadium this weekend in their first of two preseason games that will serve as the final tune-up in preparation for the stadium's Grand Opening on Sept. 9, 2002. This week, the Patriots will host the Philadelphia Eagles in their first of six nationally televised games in 2002. The game is sold out and will be the first full-stadium event held at the new stadium. With a capacity of over 68,000, the Patriots are anticipating a record-setting crowd. Entering this season, the franchise attendance record for a home game was 61,457 when the Patriots hosted the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 5, 1971 at then-Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough. The Patriots all-time single game attendance record was set four years ago (to the day) during an American Bowl game in Mexico City when 106,424 watched the Patriots defeat the Dallas Cowboys 21-3 (8/17/98). Team officials are encouraging fans to arrive early. The parking lots will open at 4:00 p.m. with gates to the stadium opening at 6:00 p.m.

Last week, the Patriots played their first game since defeating the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI and were defeated 22-19 by the N.Y. Giants. The Patriots and Giants were in a seesaw battle, trading the lead five times. The Giants scored 15 points off of Patriots turnovers while New England was unable to convert their two forced turnovers into scores.

Some of the Patriots newcomers performed well last week against the Giants with wide receivers Donald Hayes and Deion Branch each familiarizing themselves with Patriots quarterbacks. Hayes caught the lone Patriots touchdown, a four-yard pass from Damon Huard, while Branch led all receivers with eight catches for 129 yards, including a 62-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage from Tom Brady.

The Patriots are returning 20 of 22 starters from last year's team to defend their title this year. Despite that, the Patriots remained one of the most active teams in the offseason, signing 20 veteran free agents (including re-signings). Only Houston (21) signed more. With those signings, the Patriots roster this preseason will be teeming with veteran experience, creating new depth and fierce competition at many positions.

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