NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS(9-3) vs.MIAMI DOLPHINS* (5-7)
*Sunday, December 10, 2006
Dolphin Stadium (75,540) at 1:00 p.m. EST
The Patriots begin the fourth quarter of the 2006 regular season this week against the Dolphins in Miami. New England will face a tough test on the road against a team that has won four of its last five games and sports the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL. Following a road win over the Dolphins last year, the Patriots will bid to win back-to-back games in Miami for the first time in 18 years.
The Patriots can clinch the 2006 AFC East championship and a berth in the playoffs with a victory over the Dolphins in Miami this week and a New York Jets loss to the Buffalo Bills at Giants Stadium. In that scenario, the Patriots would have a threegame lead on the Jets with three games to play and New England would be guaranteed to win a tiebreaker with New York by virtue of a better divisional record.
The Patriots have won a franchise-record three straight AFC East titles and have won four of the last five division crowns dating back to 2001. New England has won six division titles in the 12 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 and has led the NFL over that span with 139 total victories, 13 playoff wins, four conference championships and three Super Bowl titles. The Patriots have won nine division crowns in their 46-year history.
DOMINANT IN DECEMBER
When the calendar turns to the 12th month, the New England weather may turn cold, but in recent years the Patriots have remained red hot. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the Patriots have recorded a 20-5 (.800) record in games played in the month of December. Last season, the Patriots won all four of their December games by a combined score of 110-31. New England has won 13 of its last 14 games in the month of December - a streak that dates back to 2002.
TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by CBS. The game can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Dick Enberg will handle play-by-play duties and Randy Cross will provide analysis.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 30th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti for the 23rd season.
The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will meet for the 83rd time in their history in their 41st year as division foes. The Patriots have won six of the last eight matchups between the teams, including two of the last three games in Miami. New England is 9-3 in its last dozen games against the Dolphins. New England trails in the overall series, 47- 35 including the postseason. The Patriots defeated Miami 20-10 at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 8 and this week will bid for their sixth season sweep of the Dolphins. The Patriots last swept both games from Miami in 2003. The teams have split the season series in each of the last two years. The Patriots will try to win in Miami in back-to-back seasons for the first time since winning four consecutive games there from 1986-88 (three regular-season games and one playoff contest).
Tom Brady is scheduled to start at quarterback against Miami for the 12th time and has recorded a 7-4 record in his previous 11 starts against the Dolphins. Brady has recorded a 2-3 record as a starter in games played in Miami. Brady is 29-7 in his career as a starter in division games, with four of the seven losses coming to the Dolphins. Miami signal caller Joey Harrington has started twice against New England - earlier this season in his first start for the Dolphins and also while playing for Detroit on Thanksgiving Day 2002. The Patriots defense has enjoyed success against Harrington, allowing no touchdown passes and recording five interceptions in his two starts against New England.
- The Patriots have played 40 previous games against the Dolphins in Miami and have only recorded a winning streak of two or more consecutive wins on one occasion, winning four straight games from 1986-88. New England won in Miami last season and will aim for its second road winning streak against the Dolphins this week.
- The Patriots are 2-11 in games played in Miami in the month of December. New England is making just its third December trip to Miami since 1989 and last traveled to South Florida in December during the 2004 season.
- Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick hired Nick Saban as Cleveland's defensive coordinator when Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 1991. The pair worked together with the Browns for four seasons from 1991-94, and the 1994 Browns allowed an average of 12.8 points per game.
- While serving as the head coach at Louisiana State University from 2000-04, Dolphins Head Coach Nick Saban coached three players on the Patriots active roster: defensive lineman Jarvis Green, defensive end Marquise Hill and linebacker Eric Alexander. Dolphins assistants who were members of that LSU staff include offensive assistant James Coley, tight ends coach Derek Dooley, outside linebackers coach Travis Jones and safeties coach Kirby Smart. Dolphins who played at LSU during that time are cornerback Travis Daniels, safety Norman LeJeune and punter Donnie Jones.
- Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, defensive coordinator Dean Pees and wide receivers coachBrian Daboll were all on Dolphins head coach Nick Saban's staff at Michigan State. Pees was the defensive coordinator at Michigan State from 1995-97, Daboll was a graduate assistant from 1998-99 and McDaniels was a graduate assistant in 1999. Dolphins running backs coach Bobby Williams and wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett were also on the Spartans staff during that time.
- Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees was Miami head coach Nick Saban's defensive coordinator at Toledo in 1990.
- Patriots linebacker Larry Izzo was originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent. In his five seasons with the team he appeared in 61 games and recorded 95 special teams tackles.
- Dolphins defensive tackle Keith Traylor played for the Patriots in 2004, starting 10 of 16 games at nose tackle.
- Patriots secondary coach Joel Collier was a member of the Dolphins coaching staff for 11 seasons prior to joining the Patriots in 2005. Collier served as Miami's defensive staff assistant from 1994-97 and then was the team's running backs coach from 1998-2004.
- Patriots fullback Heath Evans played in the first six games of the 2005 season for the Dolphins and earned two starts. He was signed by the Patriots on Nov. 1, 2005. Evans is a native of West Palm Beach, Fla.
- Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel is originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and attended the University of Central Florida. He played quarterback, defensive back, kicker and punter at Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) High School.
- Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork was a standout defensive tackle at the University of Miami, where he recorded 148 tackles and 14 sacks from 2001-2003. Wilfork attended Santaluces High School in his hometown of Boynton Beach, Florida.
- Patriots wide receiver Doug Gabriel was born in Miami and attended the University of Central Florida.
- Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour was a teammate of Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael at the University of Georgia from 1997-2000, while Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson was at Georgia with McMichael in 2001.
- Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin and Dolphins wide receiver Marty Booker were teammates with the Chicago Bears from 1999-2002. Dolphins special teams coach Keith Armstrong served in the same capacity with the Bears from 1997-2000, while Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears was with the Bears from 1997-98.
- Dolphins defensive quality control coach Glenn Pires was at Syracuse University along with Patriots assistant secondary coach Joel Collier (1989), running backs coach Ivan Fears (1983-84, 1989-90) and strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik (1983-84, 1989-90).
- Patriots strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik served in that role with the Dallas Cowboys from 1990-96 while Dolphins offensive line coach Hudson Houck was an assistant. Dolphins quarterbacks coach Jason Garrett played for the Cowboys from 1992-96.
- Patriots fullback Heath Evans and Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown were teammates at Auburn in 2000.
- Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork and Dolphins offensive tackle Vernon Carey played together at the University of Miami from 2000-03.
- Patriots wide receiver Chad Jackson and Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder were teammates at the University of Florida from 2003-04.
- Dolphins linebacker Keith Adams is the son of former Patriots defensive end Julius Adams, who played in 206 games over 15 seasons in New England from 1971-87.
- Dolphins coordinator of football operations/assistant to the head coach Scott O'Brien was the special teams coach on Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's staff with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94.
- Dolphins National Scout/Assistant Director of College Scouting Chris Grier was in the Patriots' personnel department from 1994-99. He is a native of Holliston, Mass., and played two years of football at the University of Massachusetts.
- Patriots wide receivers Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney and Chad Jackson played at the University of Florida.
- Dolphins assistant offensive line coach Tim Davis served as offensive line coach at the University of Southern California while Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel played there.
- Dolphins special assistant to the head coach Dom Capers was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers from 1995-98 while Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely a Panthers assistant.
- Dolphins defensive tackle Keith Traylor played with the Denver Broncos from 1991-92 while Patriots tight ends coach Pete Mangurian was a member of the Broncos staff.
- Patriots offensive lineman Wesley Britt and Dolphins linebacker Derrick Pope were teammates at the University of Alabama from 2002-2003.
- Patriots wide receiver Reche Caldwell and Dolphins tight end Justin Peelle (2002-2005) and quarterback Cleo Lemon (2003-2005) all played for the San Diego Chargers. Dolphins offensive tackle Damion McIntosh was a teammate of Caldwell with the Chargers from 2002-03 in addition to Patriots safety Rodney Harrison from 2000-02. Dolphins offensive line coach Hudson Houck served in the same capacity with the Chargers from 2002-04. Dolphins wide receiver Wes Welker also played for a short time with the Chargers in 2004.
- Patriots wide receiver Doug Gabriel and Dolphins safety Renaldo Hill were with the Oakland Raiders last season.
- Patriots cornerback Artrell Hawkins and Dolphins cornerback Eddie Jackson were teammates on the Carolina Panthers in 2004. That year, Dolphins coordinator of football operations Scott O'Brien was the Panthers' special teams coach.
- Patriots linebacker Pierre Woods and Dolphins tight end Tim Massaquoi were four-year teammates at the University of Michigan from 2002-2005.
- Patriots safety Rashad Baker and Dolphins safety Jason Allen played together in the defensive backfield for the University of Tennessee from 2002-2003.
- Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel a teammate of Dolphins defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson at the Ohio State University from 1993-1994.
- Dolphins offensive guard Toniu Fonoti played at the University of Nebraska with Patriots offensive lineman Russ Hochstein (1999-2000) and defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith (2001).
- Patriots running back Heath Evans and Dolphins guard Jeno James were teammates at Auburn from 1998-1999.
DIGGING DEEP - OFFENSE
The Patriots' NFL-leading fourth-down conversion rate this season. They have been successful on 14-of-17 fourth-down tries.
The number of goal-to-go situations the Patriots offense has been in this season. The mark is the highest in the NFL.
The Patriots' team passer rating inside the 30-yared line this season. The mark is the second highest in the NFL (San Diego, 117.4).
The percentage of the time the Patriots have scored a touchdown when they have entered the red zone this season. The mark is the second best in the NFL (San Diego, 70.2).
The percentage of Patriots first-down plays that have gained four or more yards this season. The mark ranks second in the NFL (Indianapolis, 54.8).
The number of first downs the Patriots have gained this season. The mark ranks third in the NFL (Indianapolis 283, Dallas 264).
The percentage of times the Patriots have scored a touchdown while in a goal-to-go situation. The mark ranks third in the NFL (San Diego 92.0, Cincinnati 83.3).
The Patriots' NFL-leading kickoff return average this season. Primary returner Laurence Maroney ranks second in the league with an average of 28.7 yards per return.
DIGGING DEEP - DEFENSE
Patriots opponents' passer rating inside the 30-yard line this season. The mark is the lowest in the NFL.
The percentage that Patriots opponents have scored a touchdown when driving inside of the 30-yard line this season. The mark is the second lowest in the NFL (Baltimore, 23.1).
The number of rushes of 20 yards or longer allowed by the Patriots this season. The mark is the best in the NFL.
The percentage of opponents rushes that have gone for four yards or longer this season. The mark ranks second in the NFL (Minnesota, 28.5).
The number of quick-strike scoring drives (four plays or less) that the Patriots defense has allowed this season. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL to have not allowed any such drives this season.
The number of drives during which Patriots opponents have entered the Red Zone (inside the 20-yard line). The mark is tied with Jacksonville for the fewest such drives allowed by any NFL team this season.
The total number of points that the Patriots have allowed in the final two minutes of either the first or second half this season. The total is the best in the NFL.
The total number of points the Patriots have allowed in their last eight games - the second fewest in the NFL over that span.
The number of touchdowns allowed by the Patriots defense this season. It is the second-lowest total in the NFL (Chicago, 13).
13.8The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed in 2006.
The Patriots' NFL rank in points allowed per game. Only Chicago (12.5) and Baltimore (13.3) rank higher.
The Patriots team record for fewest points allowed per game in a full season, achieved in 2004.
The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed since 2001, a mark that ranks second in the NFL over that span, trailing only Tampa Bay.
The average number of points per game that the Patriots have allowed at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. The mark represents the fewest points per game allowed at home over that span.
13The number of times Bill Belichick's defenses have finished in the NFL's top 10 in fewest points allowed since he was first named a defensive coordinator in 1985.
THE KRAFT ERA
The number of regular-season and playoff victories the Patriots have earned since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark represents the highest total in the NFL over that span.
The number of times the Patriots have appeared in the Super Bowl since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994. No other team has made more than two Super Bowl appearances in that span.
The Patriots' overall record since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 (including postseason), a .626 winning percentage. The figure ranks second in the NFL over that span.
The Patriots' record at home since 1994, including regularseason and postseason games, a winning percentage of .703.
The Patriots' record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason games (.791 win pct).
The number of AFC East titles the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994.
The number of consecutive seasons in which the Patriots have won nine or more games, a mark that represents the longest current streak in the NFL.
THE HEAD COACH
32The number of years Bill Belichick has been an NFL coach, making him the longest tenured among the 32 head coaches.
The number of head coaches in the NFL or college who were assistant coaches under Belichick (Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Nick Saban, Charlie Weis, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Hill and Al Groh).
Belichick's record in New England when the Patriots score 25 points or more.
63-5Belichick's record in New England when the Patriots score 21 points or more.