|Television:||This week's game will be broadcast regionally on CBS (locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston). Ian Eagle will provide play-by-play detail alongside broadcast partner Mark May.|
|Radio:||WBCN's Rock Radio Network 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, the voice of the Patriots, will call all the action along with Gino Cappelletti, his broadcast partner for 16 years.|
This week, the New England Patriots (3-0) will travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns (0-3). A victory would give the Patriots their second 4-0 start in the last three years. Since Pete Carroll's arrival in 1997, the Patriots have fared no worse than 4-1 in their first five games of the season. Prior to 1997, the Patriots only had two 4-0 starts in franchise history; first in 1964 (4-0) and again in 1974 (5-0).
Last week, the Patriots scored a 16-14 victory over the New York Giants to remain one of just five undefeated teams entering Week 4 of the NFL season. Of the five undefeated teams, only Tennessee and New England boast 3-0 records. The Patriots currently sit atop the AFC East, half a game ahead of the 2-0 Miami Dolphins who were idle last week. The last time the Patriots were in sole possession of first place in the division was entering Week 7 of the 1998 season. The Patriots, at 4-1, held a one-game lead over the 3-2 Miami Dolphins.
With their two-point victory over the Giants, the Patriots became just the fourth team in the history of the NFL to open their season 3-0 with each game being decided by a field goal or less. The feat was last accomplished by the 1988 Buffalo Bills (see list below), whose third victory was a 16-14 decision over the Patriots. That year, the Bills went on to win their first of four consecutive division titles. Through their first three games, the Patriots' combined margin of victory is just seven points.
The last time the Patriots won three consecutive games by a margin of three points or less was in 1986 when the Patriots defeated the Rams (30-28), Buffalo (22-19) and New Orleans (21-20) mid-season en route to an 11-5 season and division title.
Over the last three years, the Patriots have fared well in close games. Of the 13 games decided by a field goal or less, the Patriots have won 10 of them. In Carroll's first two seasons as head coach, the Patriots participated in 10 games that were decided by three points or less, five each season. This year, the Patriots already have three in the books.
Close games have been typical in the Patriots' series with the Browns as well. Between 1992 and 1995, the Patriots and the Browns played five times (including playoffs) and each game was decided by a touchdown or less. The Browns won three of the five contests.
This week, the Patriots will play in the new Cleveland Browns Stadium before a hostile crowd of 72,500, which promises to be among the largest and loudest crowds the Patriots will face all season. Cleveland fans are reveling in their return to the NFL this season and are anxious to celebrate their first victory in nearly four years
The Patriots are the fourth team in NFL history to start the season with three wins of three points or less. New England has won their first three games by a total of seven points. The 1988 Buffalo Bills, who were the last team to accomplish the feat, started the season with four wins and advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game. Oakland in 1976 was able to take their early season accomplishment one step further and won Super Bowl XI, 32-14 vs. Minnesota.
The New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns will renew their series after a three-year hiatus. The Browns have controlled the series, winning 11 of 15 games. However, the Patriots have won two of the last four, including their last meeting, a 17-14 last-second victory in the 1995 season opener. Patriots running back Curtis Martin dove in from 1-yard with 19 seconds remaining and the Patriots were victorious.
The two teams met in the wild card round of the playoffs in 1994 and the Browns defeated the Patriots 20-13.
- Cleveland head coach Chris Palmer served as the Patriots wide receivers coach (1993-95) and the quarterback coach (1996). Palmer was also the head coach of Boston University from 1988-89.
Patriots' wide receivers coach Ivan Fears and Browns defensive coordinator Bob Slowik and defensive line coach Clarence Brooks coached in Chicago together from 1993-98. Brooks is a native of New Bedford, Mass. *
Browns' tight end coach Ray Perkins served as the Patriots offensive coordinator for the Patriots from 1993-96. *
Numerous Browns players have Patriots ties, kicker Phil Dawson was on the Patriots practice squad last year, Scott Rehberg played from 1997-98, running back Sedrick Shaw (1997-98) and center Dave Wohlabaugh (1995-98). *
Patriots' linebacker Chris Slade and Browns running back Terry Kirby are cousins and attended the same high school, Tabb (Va.) and played on the same football and basketball teams. *
Browns' center Jim Pyne attended Milford (Mass.) High School and is part of the only three-generation AFL/NFL family in history. His father, George III played for the AFL's Boston Patriots in 1965 and his grandfather George II played for the Providence Steam Rollers in 1931-32. *
Patriots' linebacker coach Bo Pelini (1987-90) wide receiver Terry Glenn (1992-95), linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer (1996-98) all played at Ohio State.
Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe has played against the Browns four times, including one playoff game. He has won two of the four games, but has thrown eight interceptions to only two touchdowns.
The last time the Patriots visited Cleveland, they were defeated by the Browns 20-13 in a Wild Card playoff game. The Patriots won their final seven games of the 1994 season to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1986. Since the game, the Patriots have made the playoffs in three of four seasons, including a trip to Super Bowl XXXI in 1996.
The Browns were led by Vinny Testaverde, who was playing in his first career playoff game. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Drew Bledsoe, also playing in his first playoff game, completed only 21 of 50 passes for 235 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
The Patriots grabbed an early lead, 7-3, after Bledsoe teamed with running back Leroy Thompson on a 13-yard touchdown pass. However, the Browns re-captured the lead, 10-7 when Testaverde connected with Mark Carrier for a 5-yard touchdown pass. The Patriots moved 71-yards on 16 plays and with 30 seconds remaining in the first half, kicker Matt Bahr tied the game with a 23-yard field goal.
Cleveland scored the next 10 points and jumped out to a 20-10 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Patriots made a late charge when Bahr kicked a 33-yard field goal with 1:30 remaining. They attempted and recovered an onsides kick and had a chance to tie the game. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize and lost 20-13.
|New England Patriots||3||0||0||1.000|
|New York Jets||0||3||0||.000|