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Pre-Game Report

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             **DATE:**  

December 22, 2001

SITE:
Foxboro Stadium (60,292) - Grass

TIME:
1:30 p.m. EST

TELEVISON:
This week's game will be broadcast regionally on CBS (locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston). Greg Gumbel will provide the play-by-play detail and will be joined by broadcast partner Phil Simms. Armen Keteyian will report from the sidelines.

RADIO:
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 eight.

The New England Patriots (9-5) will play their final regular season game in Foxboro Stadium when they host the division-leading Miami Dolphins (9-4) this Saturday, Dec. 22. It will be a fight for first place in the AFC East and has significant playoff implications for both teams. The game will be televised nationally on CBS beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The Patriots are among the hottest teams in the NFL, having won six of their last seven and eight of their last 10 games. Last week, they extended their current win streak to four games, second longest in the NFL (Steelers own a six-game streak). With two games remaining, the Patriots already enjoy a four-game improvement over last year's record. Only the Chicago Bears have had a greater turnaround ( 5 games). A Patriots victory over the Dolphins this week would propel them into sole possession of first place in the division for the first time since they opened the 1999 season 4-0. It would also extend their win streak to five games for the first time since they closed out the 1994 season winning seven straight to claim a wild-card playoff berth.

While the Patriots prepare for their final regular season game at Foxboro Stadium, a victory over the Dolphins could very well extend the life of the stadium by putting the Patriots in the position to host a playoff game. The Patriots are 3-1 in home playoff games, having won each of the last three games they have hosted, including both playoff games in 1996.

The Patriots hope to avenge the 30-10 loss suffered in Miami (10/7/01) and to snap the Dolphins' current five-game series win streak. If history is any indicator, expect another close, hard-fought game again this week, as six of the last nine regular season matchups between the Patriots and the Dolphins have been decided by three points or less, including each of the last three Patriots victories in the series.

While the Patriots are riding the momentum of a four-game win streak, the Dolphins are anxious to rebound from a shutout loss in San Francisco. The 21-0 loss snapped a three-game Dolphins win streak.

Last week, the Patriots claimed a 12-9 overtime victory against the Buffalo Bills. It was the first time the Patriots had won without scoring a touchdown since scoring a 12-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in 1994 (11/27). It was also the lowest point production for a win for Coach Belichick since his Cleveland Browns defeated the Houston Oilers 11-8 on Oct. 13, 1994. The victory guaranteed the Patriots their first winning season since 1998 and was Coach Belichick's 50th career regular season victory.

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