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Pre-Game Report

The AFC East Division Champion New England Patriots (11-5) will host the AFC West Division Champion Oakland Raiders (11-6) in a divisional playoff game this Saturday, Jan. 19 at Foxboro Stadium.

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Foxboro Stadium (60,292) - Grass

8:00 p.m. EST

This week's game will be broadcast nationally 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.

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 23. The game will also be broadcast nationally on CBS/Westwood One Radio. Brad Sham and Bob Trumpy will broadcast the game along with John Dockery, who will report from the sidelines.

The AFC East Division Champion New England Patriots (11-5) will host the AFC West Division Champion Oakland Raiders (11-6) in a divisional playoff game this Saturday, Jan. 19 at Foxboro Stadium. The game will be broadcast nationally beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST. It will be the Patriots' fifth home playoff game in franchise history and the fourth in their last five years. The Patriots are 3-0 in their last three home playoff games. Their only home playoff loss was in 1978.

The Patriots enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winning eight of their last nine games, including six in a row. Their current six-game win streak is the longest in the AFC, tying the streak of the NFC's St. Louis Rams. The Rams, coincidentally, were the last team to defeat the Patriots over two months ago (Nov. 18). The Patriots will be well rested after earning a first-round playoff bye just one week after enjoying their regular season bye. When the Patriots host the Raiders this weekend, it will be just their second game in 27 days. The Raiders, on the other hand, snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating the New York Jets, 38-24, to advance to this week's divisional playoff game.

It will be the third time the Patriots and the Raiders have met during the playoffs. Coincidentally, both of their previous games were also played in the divisional playoff round. If history is any indicator, fans can expect another close game. In 1976, the Patriots led 21-17 in Oakland with just 40 seconds remaining, but lost 24-17 when quarterback Ken Stabler scored from a yard out with just 10 seconds to play. Patriots fans will always remember referee Ben Dreith as the Stabler enabler who called an unsportmanlike conduct penalty on Ray Hamilton to give the Raiders a first-and-goal opportunity at the 1-yard line. That year, the Raiders advanced to Super Bowl XI and defeated the Minnesota Vikings.

In 1985, it was the Patriots who defeated the Jets to advance to play the Raiders in the divisional playoff game. After trailing 20-17 at the half, the Patriots scored 10 points in four seconds (elapsed time). After the Patriots converted a 32-yard field goal, the ensuing kickoff was fumbled and Jim Bowman recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 27-20 victory. The Patriots then defeated the Dolphins to claim their first conference title in franchise history and advanced to Super Bowl XX in New Orleans. This week's game will be the first playoff game for 21 Patriots players, including 14 veterans and five drafted rookies and two first-year free agents. The most notable among the veteran first-timers is 11-year veteran Roman Phifer, who is about to be replaced as the NFL's senior-most member without playoff experience (168 games). Also making his playoff debut will be second-year quarterback Tom Brady, who enters the postseason with an 11-3 record as a starter. since 1978.

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