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Patriots vs. Steelers on Thanksgiving weekend

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS(7-4) vs.PITTSBURGH STEELERS* (-3)
*Sunday, November 30, 2008 - 4:15 p.m. EST - Gillette Stadium (68,756)

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The Patriots will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in a matchup of AFC playoff contenders. The Steelers bring the NFL's top-ranked defense to Foxborough for a late-season clash for the second straight season. Last year, the Patriots' top-ranked offense got the better end of the bargain, leading New England to a 34-13 win over the Steelers and their top-ranked defense. This year, the Pittsburgh defense has allowed the league's fewest yards and fewest points, while the Patriots' offense is coming off of back-to-back 500-yard games for the first time in franchise history. The Steelers are also among the NFL's best teams away from home, compiling a 4-1 on the road this season.

GIVING THANKS
The Patriots have traditionally saved their best football for the end of the season and lead the NFL with a 48-9 (.842) record in games played on Thanksgiving Day or later in the NFL season since 2001. The record includes playoff games. This week, New England hosts the league's second-best team in games on Thanksgiving or later since 2001, with the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to Gillette Stadium posting a 36-16 (.692) record in such games. New England will look to continue its run of success on Thanksgiving Weekend, having won six of its last seven games during the holiday weekend.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION:This week's game will be broadcast to a regional audience by CBS. The game can be seen in the Boston area on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf will call 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 here. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 32nd 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 25th anniversary season.

NATIONAL RADIO:This week's game will be broadcast to a national radio audience by Westwood One. Harry Kalas and Mark Malone will call the game.

SERIES HISTORY
The Patriots and Steelers will square off for the 24th time. New England has won seven of the previous ten meetings including each of the last three. Last season, the Patriots defeated the Steelers in week 14 of the regular season by a 34-13 score at Gillette Stadium. The two teams played nine times in 10 seasons from 1996-2005, including four playoff matchups over that span. The teams played in the AFC Championship Game following the 2001 and 2004 seasons, with the Patriots winning both times en route to Super Bowl titles. Of the previous 23 games in the series, 17 have been played in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers own a 10-7 advantage. The Steelers will travel to Foxborough for just the seventh time, with the teams splitting the previous six contests. The Patriots are 2- 0 against the Steelers at Gillette Stadium. The first time the Steelers played at Gillette Stadium was when the Patriots posted a 30-14 win in the Grand Opening of Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football on Sept. 9, 2002.

PASSING PERFORMANCES
Quarterback Matt Cassel is slated to start against Pittsburgh for the first time in his career. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has faced New England four times and has lost the past three meetings with the Patriots. Roethlisberger's first two losses as an NFL starting quarterback came at the hands of the Patriots.

PATRIOTS-STEELERS QUICK HITS

  • This week's game features the league's two best late-season teams since 2001. In games played on Thanksgiving Day or later in the NFL season since 2001, the Patriots lead the league with a 48-9 record while the Steelers are second at 36- 16.
  • Since Robert Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994, the Patriots lead the league with 169 wins, while the Steelers are tied for second with 159 victories (Green Bay also has 159 wins).
  • With Bill Belichick as head coach, the Patriots have averaged 28.7 points per game against the Steelers and own a 5-1 record against Pittsburgh.
  • This week's game against the 8-3 Steelers marks the Patriots' fourth straight game against a team with a winning record heading into the contest. The Patriots also faced the 5-3 Bills on Nov. 9, the 6-3 Jets on Nov. 13 and the 6-4 Dolphins on Nov. 23.
  • Long winning streaks have been on the line in the last three regular-season meetings between the teams. Last season, the Patriots defeated the Steelers 34-13 to improve to 13-0 en route to the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history. Pittsburgh ended the Patriots' NFL-record 18-game regularseason winning streak with a 34-20 win on Oct. 31, 2004. The next season, New England ended the Steelers' 16-game regular-season winning streak with a 23-20 win on Sept. 25, 2005.

CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel played in 51 games for Steelers from 1997-2000. He totaled 43 tackles, including seven sacks while with Pittsburgh.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour and Steelers receiver Hines Ward were teammates at the University of Georgia in 1997.
  • Steelers linebacker James Farriorwas coached by Bill Belichick when Farrior was with the Jets from 1997-1999.
  • Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu were teammates at the University of Southern California from 2000-02.
  • Steelers assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell served as the defensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1993, under head coach *Bill Belichick.
  • Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson held the same position at New England from 1997-99.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Mike Wright and Steelers linebacker *Andre Frazier played on the same University of Cincinnati defense for four years.
  • Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson and Steelers linebacker Arnold Harrison were teammates at the University of Georgia from 2001-03.
  • Patriots tackle Wesley Britt and Steelers cornerback *Anthony Madison *layed on the same University of Alabama team from 2001-04.
  • Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss *ad Steelers running back *Mewelde Moore were teammates with the Vikings in 2004.
  • Patriots running back Heath Evans *an Steelers guard *Kendall Simmons were on the same Auburn University offense from 1998-2000.
  • Patriots wide receivers Jabar Gaffney *plaed on the same University of Florida offense as Steelers tackle *Max Starks.
  • Patriots running back Kevin Faulk *and teelers free safety *Ryan Clark were teammates at Louisiana State University in 1998.
  • Patriots linebacker Pierre Woods was a teammate of Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley at the University of Michigan.
  • Patriots tight end David Thomas and Steelers wide receiver Limas Sweed and offensive tackle *Tony Hillis *were eammates at the University of Texas from 2004-05 and were part of the 2005 BCS National Championship team.
  • Patriots wide receiver *Matthew Slater *and Stelers linebacker *Bruce Davis *are bot rookies out of UCLA.
  • Steelers assistant head coach/defensive line coach *John Mitchell *was the inebackers coach for Louisiana State University in 1987 when Patriots tight ends coach *Pete Mangurian *served asthe Tigers offensive line coach.
  • Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians held the same position for the Cleveland Browns from 2001-03 when Patriots cornerback *Lewis Sanders *was on theteam.
  • Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau served as assistant head coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2003 when Patriots running back Sammy Morris and wide receiver *Sam Aiken *were on theteam.
  • Steelers wide receivers coach *Randy Fichtner *served as th offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the University of Memphis when Patriots kicker *Stephen Gotskowski *was on the tem.
  • Steelers special teams coordinator *Bob Ligashesky *served as a asistant special teams coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2004 when Patriots punter *Chris Hanson *was on the team
  • Patriots running back *LaMont Jordan *and Steelers linbacker *James Farrior *were teammates onthe New York Jets in 2001.
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