For the second time in a three-week span, the Patriots will square off against a 2004 conference finalist when they play the Atlanta Falcons, a team that advanced to last season's NFC Championship Game. This week's game against the 2004 NFC South champions also marks the third consecutive week in which New England will play a defending division champion. Last week, the Patriots suffered their second loss of the season, dropping a 41-17 decision to the 2004 AFC West champion San Diego Chargers. The previous week, New England had claimed a 23-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 2004 AFC North champions and a 2004 AFC finalist. This week's game promises to provide another tough test for the Patriots, as the Falcons have produced solid results on both sides of the ball so far in 2005. Atlanta's rushing attack is the top-ranked ground unit in the NFL, averaging 208 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, Atlanta's defense has allowed an average of just 14.3 points per game and has already recorded 17 sacks on the season.
TELEVISION: This week's game will be televised to a regional audience by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ Channel 4. Jim Nantzwill handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by analyst Phil Simms. Bonnie Bernstein will provide sideline reports throughout the game.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 36 stations can be found in this press release. Play-byplay broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 29th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. Santos and Cappelletti are celebrating their 22nd season as a broadcast tandem.
NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast nationally by Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports. Dave Sims and Jack Ham will call the game.
The Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will clash this week for the first time since 2001 and for the 11th time in team history. New England last faced the Falcons in a 24-10 victory at the Georgia Dome on Nov. 4, 2001. The Patriots and Falcons have been infrequent opponents, meeting this week for just the third time in 10 seasons. Prior to the 2001 meeting, the previous time the teams met was on Nov. 8, 1998, when Atlanta came in to Foxboro Stadium and scored 41 points in a 41-10 victory en route to a berth in Super Bowl XXXIII. New England was victorious in the last meeting between the teams in 2001, but prior to that had suffered four straight losses to the Falcons, dating back to 1986. The series began in 1972, when the Patriots claimed a 21-20 victory at Schaefer Stadium on Carl Garrett's fourth quarter touchdown run.
- Patriots special teams captain Larry Izzo and Falcons running back Warrick Dunn took part in an NFL-sponsored USO tour to visit troops stationed overseas in the spring of 2005. They helped to open the Pat Tillman USO Center at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan when went on to visit troops in Baghdad, Kuwait and Qatar.
- Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour, fullback Patrick Pass and tight end Benjamin Waston all played their college football at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., about an hour and a half east of Atlanta.
- Patriots fullback Patrick Pass attended Tucker High School in Tucker, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta located northeast of the city.
- Patriots cornerback Tyrone Poole grew up in LaGrange, Ga., located about an hour and a half southeast of Atlanta. Poole and his family currently keep their permanent home in Atlanta.
- Falcons fullback Fred McCrary was a member of the Patriots in 2003, playing in six games with three starts for the Super Bowl XXXVIII champions.
- Falcons cornerback Christian Morton was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round (233rd overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft, but was released prior to the 2004 season.
- Falcons safety Omare Lowe was a member of the Patriots in 2004, playing in three games while spending much of the season on the practice squad.
- Patriots defensive lineman Marquise Hill and cornerback Randall Gay both played on the same Louisiana State defense as Falcons defensive tackle Chad Lavalais, with all three players entering the NFL in 2004. Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green also played with the trio for the Tigers in 2001 and 2002.
- Tim Dwight was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons and played four years for them including their superbowl appearance in which he scored a touchdown in that game.
- Falcons running back T.J. Duckett attended Michigan State from 1998-2001, during which time Patriots quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels (1999-2000) and Patriots wide receivers coach Brian Daboll (1998-99) were graduate assistants on the Spartans coaching staff.
- Patriots tight ends coach Pete Mangurian was a member of the Falcons coaching staff from 2001-03. He served as Atlanta's offensive line coach (2001), offensive line/wide receivers coach (2002) and offensive coordinator (2003). Mangurian was on the same coaching staff as Falcons special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis and Falcons strength and conditioning coachAl Miller for 13 seasons with Denver (1988-92), the N.Y. Giants (1993-96) and Atlanta (1997, 2001-03).
- Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely was the offensive line coach at the University of the Pacific in 1983, the same season in which Falcons defensive coordinatorEd Donatell served as Pacific's defensive backs coach.
- Patriots assistant strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash and Falcons quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson were teammates with the Shreveport Pirates of the Canadian Football League from 1994-95. Nash played defensive back and Johnson was a quarterback.
- Falcons quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson was the San Diego Chargers quarterbacks coach in 2001, when Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie was San Diego's starting signal caller.
- Falcons offensive line coach Jeff Jagodzinski was the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Boston College from 1997-98.
- Falcons running backs coach Ollie Wilson is a native of Worcester, Mass., and attended Springfield College in Springfield, Mass. He served as the offensive coordinator at Northeastern University for seven seasons (1976-82).
The Patriots have not lost back-to-back regular-season games since December, 2002. Their streak of 37 consecutive weeks without back-to-back losses is the longest current streak in the NFL and the longest such mark in franchise history. The post-merger NFL record for consecutive weeks without two straight losses is 60, set by the San Francisco 49ers from 1995-99. The last time the Patriots had a losing streak was when they dropped a game at Tennessee (24-7, 12/16/02) and followed that with a home loss to the N.Y. Jets (30-14, 12/22/02).
Dome Sweet Dome
The number of consecutive victories the Patriots have earned in games played in domed stadiums, including wins in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. The Patriots have not lost a dome game since Thanksgiving Day, 2000 at Detroit.
The average number of points the Patriots have scored in their last three dome games (40, 32 and 38).
Tom Brady's record as a starter in dome games.
Tom Brady's touchdown-to-interception numbers in his career in games played indoors.
Tom Brady's career passer rating in games played indoors.
Corey Dillon's average number of yards-per-carry in his career in domes, exactly a half-yard above his overall career average (4.3). Dillon has run 213 times for 1,012 yards in 12 career indoor games.
The number of receptions needed by Troy Brown to pass Ben Coates (490 catches) for second place on the Patriots' all-time receptions list. Brown enters this week's game tied with Coates with 490 career catches.
The number of yards needed by Troy Brown to pass Irving Fryar (5,726 yards) for second place on the Patriots' all-time receiving yardage list. Brown enters this week's game with 5,722 career receiving yards.
The number of rushing yards needed by Corey Dillon to reach 10,000 yards for his career. Dillon would become the 18th player in NFL history to reach the milestone and the first to do so as a Patriot.
The number of points needed by kicker Adam Vinatieri to become the Patriots' all-time leading scorer. His current career total is 1,085 points. Gino Cappelletti (1960-70) holds the franchise record with 1,130 points.
The number of sacks needed by Willie McGinest to pass Julius Adams (79.5 sacks) for second place on the team's all-time sacks list.
The number of receptions Kevin Faulk needs to pass Tony Collins (261) for the most receptions by a running back in Patriots history.
The number of receiving yards needed by Faulk to reach 2,000 for his career. He could become just the third running back in Patriots history to achieve the milestone (Larry Garron, 2,502 and Tony Collins, 2,356).