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Pre-Game Report

New England (5-2), Arizona Cardinals (2-4)Sunday, Oct. 31, 1999, 4:00 p.m. ETat Sun Devil Stadium

Where can you catch the game?

Television:This week's game will be broadcast regionally on CBS (locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston). Kevin Harlan will provide play-by-play detail alongside broadcast partner Sam Wyche.
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.

The New England Patriots (5-2) will travel to Phoenix this Halloween weekend to take on the Arizona Cardinals (2-4). Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET. It is the only 4 p.m. start of the season for the Patriots.

Games on Halloween night have historically spooked the Patriots. They are just 1-4 in the five games they have played on Halloween. Their only win was a 22-6 decision over San Diego in 1965.

Last week, the Patriots warmed up for this week's Halloween haunt by exorcising the two-time defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos, who have haunted the Patriots for over 19 years. In the end, a 59-yard field goal attempt by Jason Elam fell well short with just 1:45 to play in the game, securing a long overdue 24-23 victory for the Patriots. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak in the series. The last time the Patriots defeated the Broncos was on Sept. 29, 1980. At the time, Patriots 1999 first round draft choices Damien Woody and Andy Katzenmoyer were each just 2-years old.

With the win, the Patriots improved to 5-2 for the second time in the last three years, and remain just half a game behind the division leading Miami Dolphins. A victory this week would give the Patriots their fifth 6-2 start in franchise history and the first since 1980. The longest any Patriots team has gone before surrendering their third loss of the season was in 1978 when they opened the season 8-2 and finished the year 11-5.

The victory over the Broncos improved the Patriots' home record to 21-7 since 1996. Unfortunately, the Patriots have not fared nearly as well on the road. Traveling to Arizona this week may be one of the most challenging quests for the Patriots all season. Since 1990, the Patriots have played 14 games west of the Mississippi and are just 2-12 in those games. The good news for Patriots fans, one of those two victories was over the Cardinals. In fact, Drew Bledsoe is 2-0 as a starter at Sun Devil Stadium, including that victory in 1993. Unfortunately, Bledsoe was unable to finish the game after being sidelined due to a first half injury in the Patriots' 23-21 victory. His first game in Sun Devil Stadium came in 1991 when he guided the Washington State Cougars to a 17-3 victory over Arizona State.

The Cardinals hold a 6-3 series advantage, but the Patriots have won each of the last two games in the series.

Making their point

Through their first seven games this season, the Patriots have been involved in six games that have been decided by three points or less. They improved to 4-2 in those games with their 24-23 victory over the Broncos last week. The Patriots played in a franchise-high eight games which were decided by three points or less in 1993, but were 2-6. In 1988 they played six games but won only three. They have tied their record for most wins of three points or less in a season (four, in 1997). Under Pete Carroll the Patriots have an 11-5 record in games of three points or less.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals will meet for the 10th time this weekend. The Patriots have won the last two games of the series, but the Cardinals have won six of the nine games between the two teams. This will be the fourth time in the last five meetings the Patriots have had to travel to play the Cardinals.

LAST MEETING

The last time these two teams met, the Patriots shut out the Cardinals, 31-0 at Foxboro Stadium on Sept. 15, 1996. It was the Patriots last shutout, as well as the last time the Cardinals have been shut out. The Patriots rushed for 163 yards on 43 attempts (3.8 avg.) and scored one touchdown and were able to control the football for 39:21. Drew Bledsoe completed 60 percent of his passes (21-35), including three touchdowns to help lead the Patriots to victory.

The defense limited the Cardinals to 170 total net yards, including just 46 yards rushing. In addition, the defense stymied Cardinals quarterback Boomer Esiason, who connected on just four of 12 attempts for 22 yards and threw two interceptions before being benched in the third quarter. In all, the defense accounted for three interceptions for the second consecutive week and allowed just 86 total net yards through three quarters.

Bledsoe earned Miller Lite Player of the Game for his efforts, powering the Patriots to 384 total yards of offense. He passed for 221 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Yet, it was his 2-yard run on 4th-and-1 that may have had the greatest impact on the game. The diving run extended a drive which led to a 2-yard touchdown pass to Ben Coates with just 20 seconds remaining in the half to give the Patriots a 20-0 lead.

"When a quarterback is willing to sacrifice his body like Drew did," said Shawn Jefferson. "It sets quite an example for the rest of us. If a quarterback is willing to do that, we all have to be willing to do that. It fired us up."

CONNECTIONS

Patriots' wide receiver coach Ivan Fears coached Cardinals' wide receiver Rob Moore at Syracuse University.

Patriots' defensive line coach Ray Hamilton was the head coach of the Bay State Titans when Cardinals' defensive tackle Eric Swann played there in 1990. Swann was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 1991 draft by the Cardinals.

Patriots' tight end coach Carl Smith was the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL, while the Cardinals head coach Vince Tobin coordinated the defense.

Patriots' first round draft pick (28th overall), linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer and Cardinals' first round pick (8th overall), wide receiver David Boston were teammates at Ohio State.

Patriots' linebacker Tedy Bruschi played his collegiate football at the University of Arizona. He is tied for the all-time NCAA Division 1-A record of 52 career sacks, a mark he set while leading the "Desert Swarm" defense at Arizona.

BYE THE BYE

The Cardinals, who were idle last week, will be well rested for this week's game against the Patriots. Coming off bye weeks, the Cardinals are 4-2 at home. One of those losses, however, was to the Patriots in 1993. The Patriots will enjoy their bye next week. In games leading into the bye week, the Patriots are only 3-6 since 1990, but those three wins have come in the last three years.

AFC EAST STANDINGS

WLTPct.
New England Patriots520.714
Miami Dolphins510.833
Indianapolis Colts420.667
Buffalo Bills430.571
New York Jets160.143
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