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Pre-Game Report

New England (7-7), Buffalo Bills (9-5)Sunday, December 26, 2000, 1:00 p.m. ETat Foxboro 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). Verne Lundquist will provide play-by-play detail alongside broadcast partner Dan Diefdorf. Bonnie Bernstein will report from the sidelines.
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.
Patriots Monday:Patriots Monday, from 4pm-7pm every Monday (WNRB-AM 1510 or through Patriots.com) with hosts Butch Stearns and Jim Donaldson. Guests include Drew Bledsoe, Pete Carroll, Ty Law, Henry Thomas and others.

The New England Patriots (7-7) return home for the holidays to host the Buffalo Bills (9-5) this Sunday, Dec. 26. Next week, they will close out the 1999 season when they host the Baltimore Ravens (7-7) on Jan. 2.

For the Patriots and their fans, there's no place like home. After losing four consecutive road games and five of their last six road games, the Patriots are looking forward to getting back on their home turf to close out the season. This year, the Patriots are 4-2 at home and can equal the 6-2 marks established in 1997 and 1998 with wins over the Bills and Ravens in the next two weeks.

Since 1994, the Patriots have played before capacity crowds at Foxboro Stadium. This week's game will be the 60th consecutive sellout in Foxboro and have helped create a homefield advantage, which has resulted in a 39-20 overall record.

Last week, the Patriots traveled to Philadelphia in pursuit of their eighth win and a chance to remain alive in the AFC playoff race. A 24-9 loss, however, put their playoff fate in the hands of their division rival Buffalo Bills, who ultimately eliminated the Patriots' from playoff contention with a win over the Cardinals in the Sunday night prime time match-up at Arizona. Now, the Patriots will play the role of playoff spoiler instead of playoff contender and will have an opportunity to avenge their 17-7 loss in Buffalo almost a month ago. The Bills are one of three teams tied at 9-5 and are in strong contention for a wild card berth. A Patriots victory, however, would drop the Bills to 9-6 and the prospects of needing a win over the division champion Indianapolis Colts in the season finale to clinch a playoff berth.

With just two games remaining, Drew Bledsoe leads the AFC with 3,776 passing yards and needs just 224 yards passing to eclipse the 4,000-yard plateau for the third time in his seven-year career. He needs just 311 yards in the last two games to move ahead of his 1996 passing total into second place on the team's all-time single season passing annals. He set the team record with 4,555 yards passing in 1994.

Breaking New Ground

This week against the Bills, Patriots' tackle Bruce Armstrong will play in the 195th game of his career and will move past Mosi Tatupu (194 games played) into second place in team history. DE Julius Adams leads all Patriots with 206 games played. Armstrong is the only player to participate in every year of the 1990's for the Patriots. During that time span, he had protected eight different quarterbacks (Drew Bledsoe, Jeff Carlson, Steve Grogan, Tommy Hodson, Hugh Millen, Scott Secules, Marc Wilson and Scott Zolak).

Since Armstrong moved from right to left tackle in 1990, he has started 150 of a possible 158 games at that position. Over that span, 10 different players have started beside him (Eugene Chung, Elbert Crawford, Damon Denson, David Douglas, Chris Gambol, Heath Irwin, Bob Kratch, Max Lane, Reggie Redding, William Roberts).

SERIES HISTORY

This week's game will be the 77th encounter between the two AFC East rivals, dating back to the inception of the AFL in 1960. The Patriots will welcome the Bills to Foxboro this week, where the Patriots have a four-game winning streak against the Bills. In fact, the home team has recently held the advantage in the series, winning seven of the last 10 games. New England has won seven of the past 10 games.

LAST MEETING

The New England Patriots lost a hard fought battle against the Buffalo Bills, 17-7 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Patriots suffered two costly turnovers inside the Bills' 20-yard-line and were unable to enter the end zone until the fourth quarter. They fell to 6-5 on the season and 2-4 within the AFC East.

At the beginning of the second quarter, trailing 3-0, the Patriots had a 10-play 52-yard drive ended when quarterback Drew Bledsoe was intercepted on the Bills' 16-yard-line. Then midway through the third quarter, trailing 17-0 but with a chance to get back into the game, they suffered their second turnover. Running back Kevin Faulk fumbled on the Buffalo 5-yard-line, ending a 10-play, 59-yard drive, in which they had distributed the ball evenly, running five times and passing five times. Each turnover proved costly in a low scoring game, ending Patriots opportunities inside the red zone.

The Patriots finished the game with a turnover ratio of –1, gaining one fumble recovery while relinquishing a fumble and interception.

The Bills, however, were able to capitalize on big plays, scoring on touchdown passes of 54 and 31 yards. Buffalo quarterback Doug Flutie hit wide receiver Eric Moulds on a 54-yard pass with just 36 seconds remaining in the first half. Patriots defender Steve Israel, who was covering on the play, fell down and Moulds was free for the score. The Bills went into the locker room leading 10-0.

On their second series of the third quarter they struck again and extended their lead by seven points on back-to-back big plays. Flutie completed a 45-yard pass to tight end Bobby Collins and then hooked-up with fullback Sam Gash for a 31-yard touchdown completion and the Bills led 17-0.

In the first half, the Patriots were able to move the ball, registering three drives of nine plays or more and led time of possession with 17:54, but were not able to put any points on the board. Defensively, they held the Bills to only 11 yards rushing on 12 attempts (0.9 avg.) and Flutie had 96 yards passing, including a 54-yard scoring pass.

New England got on the scoreboard late in the game with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Bledsoe to Glenn. It was the fourth time they had teamed together for a score this season. Glenn led the team with 69 yards receiving on three catches.

The Patriots was able to rush for 93 yards on 25 carries (3.7 avg.) against a Bills defense that ranked third in the NFL with 82.9 yard average. Terry Allen led the Patriots with 47 yards on 13 carries.

AFC EAST STANDINGS

WLTPct.
Indianapolis Colts1220.852
Miami Dolphins950.643
Buffalo Bills950.643
New England770.500
New York Jets680.429

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