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Pre-Game Report

December 9, 2001

Foxboro Stadium (60,292) - Grass

1:00 p.m. EST

This week's game will be broadcast regionally on CBS (locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston). Gus Johnson will provide the play-by-play detail and will be joined by broadcast partner Brent Jones.

WBCN's Rock Radio Network 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, now in his 25th season as voice of the Patriots, will call the action along with Gino Cappelletti. The tandem is enjoying their 18th season together. For a complete listing of all local affiliates, please see page 13.

The New England Patriots (7-5) return home to host the Cleveland Browns (6-5) this week. This will be the third consecutive season that the Patriots and the Browns have clashed since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999. The Patriots defeated the Browns in 1999, 19-7, but lost in Cleveland last season, 19-11. A victory over the Browns this week would not only avenge last season's loss, but would also extend a Patriots win streak to three consecutive games. The Patriots have not won three straight since starting 4-0 in 1999.

Last week, the Patriots scored 17 second-half points to claim a 17-16 victory over the then-division leading New York Jets. The victory pulled the Patriots to within a half game of the Jets and kept them just 1-1/2 games behind the first place Miami Dolphins. With four games to play, the Patriots remain in third place in the AFC East, but moved into sole possession of sixth place in the conference standings.

The Patriots have not surrendered a turnover in either of their last two games, despite facing two of the NFL's most opportunistic teams. The Saints entered their game with the Patriots leading the NFC with a 10 turnover ratio, and last week, the Jets boasted a league-high 22 turnover ratio. The Patriots collected a pair of interceptions in each game for a 2 turnover ratio.

This week, the Patriots host another opportunistic team. The Cleveland Browns lead the league with 25 interceptions and are second in the league with 31 total takeaways. Their 13 turnover ratio is ranked second in the AFC and third in the NFL.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady continues to lead the Patriots with a precision passing game. Last week, he completed over 70 percent of his passes (20-of-28) for the fourth consecutive game and fifth time this year (see box below). He led the Patriots on three consecutive scoring drives in the second half at New York to record his second come-from-behind victory as a Patriot and improved to 7-3 as a starter. That is the best start by a Patriots quarterback since Doug Flutie went 7-3 in his first 10 starts. Babe Parilli enjoyed the greatest success of any quarterback in franchise history, winning 9 games before suffering his fourth loss.

Troy Brown remains Brady's favorite target. His 78 receptions is tied for third in the AFC and fourth in the NFL. His 944 yards receiving ties the career-high he set last season. He is currently averaging 6.5 receptions per game. He is on pace to become the first Patriot to eclipse 100 receptions in a season (pace projects 104 receptions). Last week, he moved ahead of Gino Cappelletti (292) into fifth place on the all-time reception list with 298 career receptions.

Patriots RB Antowain Smith (7th in the AFC in rushing) scored his ninth touchdown of the season last week (5th in the AFC). He now has eight rushing touchdowns (4th in the NFL) and has scored five touchdowns in the last four games. In the six games he has scored, the Patriots are 5-1.

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