The New England Patriots will play their first of two home preseason games when they play host to the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night. The Foxborough faithful will get to see their team at home in game action for the first time since shutting down the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional playoffs on Jan. 16. In the seven months that have passed since then, the Patriots claimed their third Super Bowl title, then immediately reset their focus towards building the 2005 squad, which will make its Gillette Stadium debut this week.
New England is coming off of a victory in its first preseason tilt of the campaign, a 23-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals that showed fans the promise and potential of the new season, but provided Head Coach Bill Belichick and his staff with a barometer of how far the team still needs to go before it is ready to host the Oakland Raiders in the season opener on Sept. 8.
"I thought our guys overall gave a pretty good effort against Cincinnati," said Head Coach Bill Belichick. "[There are] things that we feel like we can correct and get straightened out. We'll see some different challenges this week from New Orleans and their style of play and it's all part of the process of getting the team ready to play 16 regular season games and ready for a tough opener against Oakland."
With the regular-season kickoff just 20 days from this Thursday, the Patriots will look to continue to build momentum and team cohesion as they head into the 2005 campaign.
TELEVISON: This week's game will be televised to a national audience by the Fox Network. The game can be seen in the Boston area on WFXT Channel 25. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will make their debut as a duo in the broadcast booth. Sideline reporter Pam Oliver will provide news from the field. Additionally, the Fox NFL Sunday crew of James Brown, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson will provide a live halftime report from Gillette Stadium.
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 will square off with the New Orleans Saints in a preseason preview of a regular season Week 11 battle at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Saints have not faced off in nearly four years, but will play twice in 2005 – once in the preseason and once in the regular season. Before this week's game, the last time the teams tangled was in Week 11 of the 2001 season, when the 5-5 Patriots beat the Saints at Foxboro Stadium to start a 9-game season-ending winning streak that culminated in a Super Bowl victory in New Orleans over the St. Louis Rams. The teams have not played in the preseason since Aug. 5, 1994, when the Patriots defeated the Saints 24-6 in Robert Kraft's first preseason game as the owner of the Patriots. This week marks the first time New Orleans has traveled to Gillette Stadium.
- Both of the Saints' coordinators worked as assistants on Bill Belichick's Cleveland Browns staff for two seasons. Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi was Belichick's linebackers coach (1994-95), and Saints offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard was Belichick's tight ends coach (1993- 1994).
- Patriots strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik spent three seasons with the Saints (1997-99) before joining the Patriots.
- Patriots running back Kevin Faulk was born in Lafayette, La. and attended Carencro (La.) High. He was named Class 5A Offensive Most Valuable Player two years in a row, making him the first player to capture that honor in back-to-back seasons in 20 years. Faulk also graduated from LSU and finished his collegiate career ranked fifth in NCAA history with 6,833 career all-purpose yards and 53 total touchdowns.
- Patriots cornerback Randall Gay was born in Brusly, La and attended LSU. Following LSU's national championship, Randall was welcomed back to his hometown of Brusly, La. in grand style when Jan. 23, 2004 was declared Randall "Blue" Gay Day in the town of Brusly.
- Patriots linebacker Eric Alexander attended LSU and was a member of the 2003 national championship team.
- Patriots quarterback Rohan Davey attended LSU and was the only quarterback in LSU history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season (3,347; 2001). As a senior, started every game and guided LSU to its first outright conference title since 1986.
- Patriots defensive lineman Jarvis Green was born in Donaldsonville, La and attended LSU. He finished his career at LSU ranked fourth on the school's career-record list with 20 quarterback sacks for 123 yards.
- Patriots defensive end Marquise Hill was born in New Orleans, La and attended LSU. He was also a member of the 2003 national championship team.
- Patriots linebacker Don Davis played for the Saints for three seasons (1996-1998).
- Patriots running back Chad Morton was drafted by the Saints in the fifth round (166th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft.
- Patriots tight ends coach Pete Mangurian and Saints defensive assistant/cornerbacks coach Greg Brown were both on the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff during the 2001 season.
- Patriots tight end Christian Fauria was teammates with Saints linebackers coach Winston Moss and Saints defensive back Fred Thomas with the Seattle Seahawks.
- Patriots defensive lineman Rodney Bailey and Saints center LeCharles Bentley were teammates at Ohio State.
- Patriots safety Rodney Harrison and Saints punter John Carney were teammates for seven seasons with the San Diego Chargers (1994-2000).
- Patriots cornerback Duane Starks and Saints linebacker Levar Fisher were both members of the Arizona Cardinals defense for two seasons (2002-2003).
- Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour and Saints defensive end Charles Grant were teammates at Georgia.
- Saints quarterback Kliff Kingsbury was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round (201st overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft.
- Patriots linebacker Larry Izzo and Saints linebacker Derrick Rodgers were members of the Miami Dolphins defense unit for four seasons (1997-2000).
- Saints running back Antowain Smith played three years for the Patriots and won two Super Bowls (2001-03).
- Patriots offensive lineman Ryan Krug and Saints linebacker Alfred Fincher were teammates at the University of Connecticut.
PATRIOTS IN THE PRESEASON
New England has won nine of its last 12 preseason games and has been victorious in 13 of its last 18 preseason contests. The Patriots tied a franchise record with an eight-game preseason winning streak lasting from Aug. 17, 2002 to Aug. 13, 2004. Since Bill Belichick became the head coach, the Patriots hold an overall mark of 15- 7 (.682) in the preseason. Since Belichick took over, the team is 5-1 in preseason openers, including last week's 23-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Aug. 12.
ROSTER REDUCTION DATES
The first mandatory roster cutdown date is August 30, two days prior to the Patriots' final preseason game. On that date, rosters must be reduced to 65 players, not including roster exempt players. On Sunday, Sept. 4, all roster exemptions will expire and rosters must be reduced to the regular-season limit of 53 players. On Sept. 5, clubs may establish an eight-man practice squad.
The Patriots hold an overall record of 24-3 at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and playoff games. New England has won 20 consecutive regular-season and postseason contests at home, compiling the longest current home winning streak in the NFL. New England has not lost at home since a 30-17 defeat to the New York Jets on Dec. 22, 2002. The Patriots' .889 winning percentage at Gillette Stadium is the highest of any NFL team at its current home. In addition the thr records listed above, the Patriots are 5-1 at Gillette Stadium in the preseason.
HOME WINNING STREAK BY THE NUMBERS
1,000The approximate number of days that will have elapsed since the Patriots' last loss at home by the time they kick off the 2005 regular season.
The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed their opponents to score during the streak.
The number of times the Patriots have held their opponents to a single touchdown or less during the streak.
The number of victories that have come by seven points or fewer during the home winning streak.