With the 2005 regular season just a week away, the New England Patriots will host the New York Giants in their final preseason tune-up before their nationally televised, prime-time clash with the Oakland Raiders on September 8. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick will use this week's game to get one final look at his personnel before the 53-man roster limit goes into effect on Sunday, September 4, and also to fine-tune every aspect of the team to ensure that it is as ready as it can be for the 2005 season to begin. The Patriots and Giants will meet for the first time since the 2003 season, when New England came away with victories over their neighboring team in the preseason and in the regular season.
TELEVISON: This week's game is the third of three preseason telecasts that can be seen live throughout New England on the Patriots preseason television network. The game can be seen in Boston on the network's flagship station, WCVB-TV, Channel 5. The Patriots network also includes WNAC-TV Channel 64 in Providence, R.I., WMUR-TV Channel 9 in Manchester, N.H., WWLP-TV Channel 22 in Springfield, Mass., and WMTW-TV Channel 8 in Portland, Maine. Veteran CBS broadcaster Don Criqui provides play-by-play and is joined by three-time NFL Pro Bowler and CBS analyst Randy Cross. WCVB principal sports anchor Mike Lynch offers on-field reports from the sideline.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos begins 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.
The Patriots and Giants will meet for the 15th time in the preseason as both teams finalize their preparations for the 2005 campaign. The clubs will clash for the first time since the 2003 season, a year in which the Patriots took games from New York in both the preseason and the regular season. Overall, the Giants hold an 8-6 advantage in the preseason series, but the Patriots claim a 4-3 edge in the regular season. The clubs have been frequent preseason opponents recently, squaring off in the preseason openers for three straight years from 2001-03. New England has won six of the last seven overall games between the clubs dating back to 1990, including three straight regularseason contests and three of the last four preseason clashes. The series dates back to 1970, the year of the AFL-NFL merger and includes some memorable games despite the relative infrequency of the matchups. In 1996, the Patriots stole a 23-22 win to clinch a playoff berth after trailing 22-3 in the fourth quarter. The first preseason game between the teams was in the first NFL game played in Foxborough, as the Patriots opened Schaefer Stadium with a 20-14 win. CONNECTIONS
- Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick spent 12 seasons on the Giants' coaching staff, and was the team's defensive coordinator for their victories in Super Bowls XXI and XXV. Belichick joined the Giants as the special teams coach on Ray Perkins' staffing in 1979, and during his tenure coached special teams (1979-82), linebackers (1980-84) and the secondary (1989-90), while also holding defensive coordinator responsibilities (1985-90).
- Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson played for the Giants for seven seasons (1986-92), and was a member of the Giants' Super Bowl championship teams in 1986 and 1990.
- Patriots tight ends coach Pete Mangurian was the Giants' offensive line coach from 1993-96.
- Patriots linebacker Wesly Mallard spent four seasons with the Giants (2002-04).
- Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin was the head coach at Boston College from 1991-93 and also served as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at the Heights (1981-83). During his first stint in Chestnut Hill, he was Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie's position coach for his first three seasons. Coughlin was also the wide receivers coach on the Giants' coaching staff while Bill Belichick was also on New York's staff (1988-90).
- Giants offensive coordinator John Hufnagel was the Patriots' quarterbacks coach in 2003.
- Giants special teams coordinator Mike Sweatman held the same position in New England from 1993-96.
- Giants tight ends coach Michael Pope coached running backs and tight ends for the Patriots from 1994-96.
- Giants assistant offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo has been an assistant at three New England colleges: Boston College (1991-92), Boston University (1993-96) and the University of Connecticut (1997-98).
- Giants running backs coach Jerald Ingram held the same position at Boston College (1991-93).
- Giants defensive backs coach Ron Milus held the same position for the Arizona Cardinals when Patriots cornerback Duane Starks played there in 2003.
- Giants quarterback Tim Hasselbeck is from Westwood, Mass. and played for Boston College and for Xaverian Brothers High School. Tim's father, Don Hasselbeck, played tight end for the Patriots for six seasons (1977-83).
- Giants running back Michael Cloud played for the Patriots in 2003, attended Boston College and is from Portsmouth, R.I.
- Giants rookie safety Diamond Ferri is a native of Everett, Mass.
- Giants center-guard Wayne Lucier is a native of Salem, N.H.
- Giants guard Chris Snee attended Boston College.
- Giants running back Mike Cloud went to Boston College, is from Portsmouth RI and played for the New England Patriots.
IN A RUSH
The number of yards per carry the Patriots have averaged in the 2005 preseason (454 yards on 90 carries).
The number of yards per rush the Patriots averaged in 2004.
The last season in which the Patriots averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry as a team, dating back 19 years to the 1985 team's average of 4.13 yards per carry.
The number of rushing yards that Patrick Pass has gained in the 2005 preseason, leading the team. PRESEASON PICKS
The total number of interceptions by the Patriots in their three preseason games so far in 2005.
The total number of interceptions by the Patriots in their four preseason games in 2004.
The number of interceptions Asante Samuel has recorded in the preseason, leading the team.
The number of Samuel's three career regular-season picks that have been returned for touchdowns.