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Pre-Game Report

New England (2-0), New York Giants (1-1)Sunday, Sept. 26, 1999, 8:20 p.m. ETat Foxboro Stadium

Where can you catch the game?

Television:This week's game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN (locally on WCVB Channel 5 in Boston). Mike Patrick will provide play-by-play detail alongside broadcast partners Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire.
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.

This week, the New England Patriots (2-0) will host the New York Giants (1-1) in their first of four intra-conference games of the season. In the past two seasons, the Patriots are 3-5 vs. the NFC. It has been three years since the Patriots last drew the NFC East. That year, the Patriots split with a 2-2 record, including a victory over the Giants. This week's game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. It is their first of three nationally televised games this year.

Both the Patriots and the Giants dug themselves deep holes in Week 2, as each team found themselves trailing 21-0 in the first half. While the Patriots pulled themselves out of that hole to score a 31-28 victory, the Giants were buried by the Redskins, 50-21.

Trailing 28-7 at the half, the Patriots responded by shutting out the Colts in the second half, while scoring 24 unanswered points of their own. Drew Bledsoe led the Patriots to victory, tying a career-high with four touchdown tosses without an interception. It was the fourth time in Bledsoe's career that he has helped the Patriots overcome a 20-point first half deficit to win the game. His greatest accomplishment came in 1996, when he led the Patriots back from a 22-0 halftime deficit against the Giants to win the game 23-22.

This week's game will be just the sixth meeting since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. The Giants currently hold a 3-2 series advantage. With their 23-22 victory in the 1996 season finale, the Patriots claimed their first division title in 10 years and secured the Patriots a first-round bye in the playoffs.

The victory over the Colts improved the Patriots to 2-0 for just the fifth time in franchise history, including the second time in the last three years. Three of the previous four 2-0 starts have resulted in at least 10 wins during the year. Of the first four 2-0 starts, the Patriots have finished no worse than .500.

The victory over the Colts improved Pete Carroll's Patriots record within the division to 13-5 since 1997. He holds a three-game lead over second place. He is 5-0 against the Colts and 3-1 against both Miami and Buffalo.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and the New York Giants will meet for only the third time in the 1990s and the sixth time overall this weekend. The last two meetings have been on the final weekend of the season and the winner has advanced to the Super Bowl. The Giants qualified for Super Bowl XXV following the 1990 season, while the Patriots played in Super Bowl XXXI in 1996. This will be only the second time they have met in Foxboro Stadium and the Giants took the first meeting, 13-10.

CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots' strength and conditioning coach Johnny Parker held the same position with the New York Giants from 1984-92.
  • Patriots defensive coordinator Steve Sidwell and tight ends coach Carl Smith coached with the Giants offensive coordinator / running backs coach Jim Skipper at the New Orleans Saints from 1986-95.

Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely coached with Giants offensive line coach Jim McNally in Carolina from 1995-98. *

Patriots first round pick, linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, played with Giants second round pick, running back Joe Montgomery at Ohio State. *

Giants guard Ron Stone played his collegiate football at Boston College.

LAST TIME (Dec. 21, 1996)

The New England Patriots scored 23 unanswered second half points and escaped from New York with a dramatic 23-22 victory over the Giants to score a first-round playoff bye. The Giants dominated the first half of the game, building a 22-0 first half lead which was capped by a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jason Sehorn with 2:45 remaining in the half.

After completing just 12 of 20 passes for 64 yards and two interceptions in the first half, Drew Bledsoe responded with a second-half passing clinic, completing 19 of 27 attempts for 237 yards and two touchdowns. His final completion came with 1:23 remaining in the game, a 13-yard game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Ben Coates. It was the 10th of Bledsoe's 17 come-from-behind victories in his career.

The Giants took their first possession to the Patriots' 1-yard line, but were turned away by a stingy New England defense which downed running back Gary Downs for no gain on fourth-and-goal. The Giants took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter when Bledsoe was flagged for intentionally grounding the ball from his own end zone, resulting in a safety. Running back Charles Way scored from a yard out in the second quarter, followed by two Brad Daluiso field goals to give the Giants a 15-0 lead. On the Patriots' next possession, Sehorn stepped in front of Terry Glenn at the 23 and raced untouched into the end zone.

The Patriots picked up the pace in the second half when David Meggett fielded a punt at his own 40-yard line and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. The return came just 1:11 after a touchdown pass to Glenn and pulled the Patriots to within five, 22-17, with 11:09 remaining in the game. Bledsoe led the fourth quarter revival, completing 12 of 18 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

HEAD COACH NOTES

The Patriots head coach Pete Carroll and the Giants Jim Fassel were two of 10 coaches appointed to their posts prior to the 1997 season. The Patriots are one of only two teams (San Francisco is the other) to make the playoffs in both seasons. Carroll ranks second among the 10 coaches with 21 wins and Fassel is fifth with 19. Two of those coaches have already been replaced.

AFC EAST STANDINGS

WLTPct.
New England Patriots2001.000
Miami Dolphins000.000
Indianapolis Colts110.500
Buffalo Bills010.000
New York Jets010.000

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

Last week, Drew Bledsoe led the Patriots back from a 21-point second half deficit to defeat the Colts 31-28. His last five drives resulted in four scores (24 points) as he completed 16 of 21 attempts for 162 yards and three touchdowns (QB rating of 137.3) and set up Adam Vinatieri for the game-winning field goal with just 0:35 remaining in the game. Bledsoe's performance earned him Miller Lite Player of the Week and AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. It was the fourth time of his career that he has overcome at least a 20-point deficit to lead his team to victory.

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