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Patriots vs. Broncos: Game Notes

FOUR OUT OF SIX TO START THE SEASON
The Patriots have begun the season with a 4-2 record, marking the third straight season that they have won at least four of their first six games. The Patriots are the only AFC team to start each of the last three seasons with a six-game record of 4-2 or better (the Patriots started 6-0 in 2007 and 5-1 in 2006). New England joins the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers as the only NFL teams to start with four or more wins in their first six games in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

PATRIOTS RUSHING TOTAL TIES MOST IN A SINGLE GAME SINCE 1985
As a team, the Patriots ran for 257 yards on 38 carries (6.8 avg.), tying the team's highest single-game rushing total since Dec. 22, 1985, when the Patriots posted 281 yards on 46 carries (6.1 avg.) against the Cincinnati Bengals. New England rushing total against Denver matched their Dec. 26, 1993 total of 257 yards (on 58 carries) against Indianapolis as the highest since that 1985 game. Against Denver, Sammy Morris led the way with a career-high 138 rushing yards, while rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis added 65 yards on 13 carries, Kevin Faulk picked up 50 yards on four carries, Heath Evans had three yards on one carry and Matt Cassel has one yard on four carries, including three game-ending kneeldowns.

CASSEL'S PASSER RATING RANKS IN FRANCHISE TOP 10
Matt Cassel posted a career-high passer rating of 136.3, completing 18-of-24 passes (75 percent) for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Cassel's 136.3 passer rating places among the Patriots' top 10 single-game passer ratings since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, ranking 10th on that list, just ahead of Drew Bledsoe's 136.2 rating on Sept. 7, 1997 against Indianapolis. Cassel's three touchdowns against Denver also set a new single-game career high, and his 75 percent completion rate was also a career best.

TURNING OVER POINTSThe Patriots forced five Denver turnovers and scored 20 points off of those turnovers. The five forced turnovers were the most for the Patriots since also forcing five in a 28-21 win over Detroit on Dec. 3, 2006. New England's 20 points off turnovers were its highest total since scoring 21 points off of four Cleveland turnovers in a 34-17 win on Oct. 7, 2007.

PATRIOTS IMPROVE TO 15-1 FOLLOWING LOSSES SINCE 2003
The Patriots bounced back from a loss with a victory for the 15th time in their last 16 chances, a run of success that dates back to the beginning of the 2003 season. Since then, the Patriots have only lost back-to-back games on one occasion, dropping their first two games in November, 2006. This season, New England has followed each of its losses with victories, bouncing back from a 38-13 loss to Miami on Sept. 21 with a 30-21 win over San Francisco on Oct. 5 and rebounding from a 30-10 setback at San Diego on Oct. 12 with a 41-7 win over Denver on Oct. 20.

PATRIOTS TIE THEIR SECOND HIGHEST POINT TOTAL AT GILLETTE STADIUM
The Patriots scored 41 points against Denver, tying the team's second highest single-game point total in Gillette Stadium history. The only game in which the Patriots scored more points at Gillette Stadium came on Oct. 28, 2007, when they defeated Washington 52-7. New England's 41-7 win over Denver ties their 41-point output in a 41-38 win over Kansas City on Sept. 22, 2002 as their second highest point total at home since moving into Gillette Stadium in 2002.

PATRIOTS TOTAL FIFTH-LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY IN BELICHICK ERAThe Patriots' 34-point victory over Denver (41-7) was the fifth largest margin of victory for the team since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000. The only larger margins of victory for New England under Belichick were by 46 points against Buffalo on Nov. 18, 2007 (56-10), 45 points against Washington on Oct. 28, 2007 (52-7), 37 points against the New York Jets on Sept. 15, 2002 (44-7) and 35 points against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 19, 2006 (35-0).

PATRIOTS TIE LARGEST MONDAY NIGHT VICTORY IN TEAM HISTORYThe Patriots' 41-7 win over the Denver Broncos tied the largest victory in team history on Monday Night Football. New England equaled its 41-7 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 18, 1976 as the highest point total and the largest margin of victory for the team on Monday night. The Patriots' game against the Broncos was the 37th Monday night game in franchise history. The Patriots-Broncos game was the 600th game in Monday Night Football history.

CAREER HIGH FOR MORRISRunning back Sammy Morris had a career-high 138 rushing yards on 16 first-half carries (8.6 avg.), topping his previous career best of 123 yards on 25 carries while playing for the Miami Dolphins against the Patriots on Dec. 10, 2006. Morris broke the 100-yard rushing mark early in the second quarter, totaling exactly 100 yards on his first nine rushes of the game. The performance marked the fourth 100-yard rushing game of Morris's 9-year career and his third in 12 games as a Patriot. Morris joined the Patriots as a free agent from the Dolphins prior to the 2007 season.

FOUR FOR MORRISSammy Morris scored his fourth touchdown of the season on a four-yard run on fourth down with 7:34 left in the first half. Morris's four touchdowns are tied with Randy Moss for the Patriots' team lead and mark Morris's highest total since 2004, when he had a career-high six rushing scores for the Miami Dolphins. Last season, Morris had three rushing touchdowns for New England in the first six games of the season before missing the remainder of the year with a chest injury.

CASSEL-TO-MOSS FOR TWO
Randy Moss caught two touchdown passes from Matt Cassel - a 13-yard strike in the second quarter and a 27-yard score on a catch-and-run play in the third quarter. Moss's second score gave the Patriots a 27-0 lead with 7:32 left in the third quarter. The two-touchdown performance marked Moss's first multiple-touchdown game of the season and his ninth since joining the Patriots via trade prior to the 2007 season. The two-touchdown game against Denver marked the 30th time in his career that Moss has caught two or more scoring passes in a game. Moss now has 128 career touchdown receptions, a total that ranks fourth all-time and is two behind Cris Carter's total of 130 scoring catches.

WELKER HAS SIXTH STRAIGHT GAME WITH SIX OR MORE CATCHES
Wes Welker totaled six receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown, recording his sixth straight game with six or more catches to open the 2008 season. Welker has totaled 42 catches through six games this year, averaging exactly seven receptions per game. Last season, Welker also averaged exactly seven catches per game, totaling a franchise-record 112 catches and tying for the league lead while setting an NFL record for most receptions by a player in his first season with a new team. Against Denver, Welker caught his first touchdown of the season, his ninth touchdown catch since joining the Patriots via trade prior to the 2007 season.

EARLY TURNOVERS
The Patriots forced Denver turnovers on the Broncos' first two drives of the game, forcing two fumbles by Denver running back Andre Hall. The Patriots converted both turnovers into field goals, leading to a 6-0 first-quarter lead. The first Patriots takeaway came when Lewis Sanders reached in and Hall to fumble and Le Kevin Smith pounced on the loose ball to give the Patriots possession at their own 32-yard line. The play marked Smith's first career fumble recovery and was the second forced fumble of Sanders' 9-year NFL career. On Denver's next possession, Ty Warren forced Hall to fumble at the Patriots' 37-yard line. The ball squirted towards the Broncos end of the field before Jerod Mayo recovered the ball at the Broncos' 37-yard line. The forced fumble was the fourth of Warren's career, while the fumble recovery was the first of Mayo's career.

MERIWEATHER INTERCEPTION
Brandon Meriweather picked off a deep ball from Jay Cutler intended for Darrell Jackson at the Patriots' 16-yard line in the second quarter. The interception was Meriweather's team-leading third of the season and was also the third of his career. Meriweather was selected by the Patriots in the first round (24th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft.

SANDERS INTERCEPTION
James Sanders recorded his first interception of the season and the fifth interception of his 4-year career when he picked off a Jay Cutler pass in the third quarter. The play set up an 8-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a 6-yard scoring strike to Wes Welker and a 34-0 Patriots lead.

GREEN-ELLIS HAS SOLID NIGHT
Rookie running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis totaled 65 rushing yards on 13 carries (5.0 avg.) and scored his first career touchdown in just his second career NFL game. Green-Ellis was signed to the Patriots' active roster from their practice squad on Oct. 11, 2008 and made his NFL debut on Oct. 12 at San Diego. Green-Ellis was originally signed by the Patriots this past offseason as a rookie free agent from the University of Mississippi.

WRIGHT RECORDS SACK AND FORCED FUMBLE; GUYTON RECOVERSPatriots defensive lineman Mike Wright sacked Denver's Patrick Ramsey for a 5-yard loss with 25 seconds left in the first half, forcing a fumble on the play that was recovered by Patriots rookie linebacker Gary Guyton. The sack was Wright's first of the year and raised his career total to 2.5 sacks. Guyton recorded his first career fumble recovery. He was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Georgia Tech prior to the 2008 season.

LONG PUNT RETURN FOR WELKER
Wes Welker had a 44-yard punt return in the third quarter, setting up a Patriots scoring drive at the Broncos 28-yard line. The 44-yard punt return was the longest for the Patriots since Troy Brown had a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown against Tampa Bay on Sept. 3, 2000. The 44-yard punt return set up a Patriots touchdown and was the third longest of Welker's career, trailing only a 47-yard return for Miami against Pittsburgh on Sept. 7, 2006 and a 71-yard return for Miami against the Patriots on Dec. 20, 2004.

EVEN STEPHEN
Stephen Gostkowski got the Patriots on the scoreboard with a pair of first-quarter field goals, from 31 yards and 40 yards. The kicks raised Gostkowski's mark to 13-for-14 on the season (92.9 percent). He has now made 20 of his last 21 field goals dating back to last season.

ANDRE TIPPETT NIGHT
Tonight was Andre Tippett Night at Gillette Stadium in honor of Tippett's enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2008. The Patriots and their fans honored the legendary linebacker in a ceremony on the field at halftime, during which Tippett was presented with his Hall of Fame ring. Tippett also served as an honorary captain at tonight's coin toss. Tippett's Hall of Fame bust was on display this past weekend at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.

QUICK HITS

  • Cornerback Mike Richardson made his NFL debut tonight as part of the Patriots' kickoff team for the game's opening kickoff. He was signed to the active roster from the practice squad prior to the game.
  • Guard Stephen Neal saw his first action of the season when he came in at right guard on the Patriots' first possession of the second quarter. Neal, a 7-year veteran, was activated from the reserve/PUP list prior to the game.
  • After recording one takeaway via fumble in their first five games combined, the Patriots forced and recovered three Denver fumbles in the first half.
  • Sammy Morris's 20-yard run in the second quarter was second longest rush of the season for the Patriots at the time and the longest since Morris's 22-yard scamper in the season opener against Kansas City on Sept. 7. He later exceeded that on a 34-yard run in the second quarter that was the Patriots' longest since a 59-yard touchdown run by Laurence Maroney vs. Miami on Dec. 23, 2007.
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