|**DATE:**||Sunday, August 20, 2000|
|**SITE:**||Foxboro Stadium (60,292) - Grass|
|**TIME:**||4:00 p.m., EDT|
|**TELEVISION:**||This week's game will be broadcast nationally on FOX (locally on WFXT Channel 25 in Boston.) Pat Summerall will provide the play-by play detail and will be joined by long-time broadcast partner John Madden. They will be joined by D.J. Johnson from the sidelines.|
|**RADIO:**||WBCN's Rock Radio Network 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, who enters his 24th season as voice of the Patriots, will call the action along with Gino Cappelletti. The tandem is entering their 17th year together.|
The New England Patriots (2-1) will prepare to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) this week in their 2000 preseason home opener. The game will be played before a sellout crowd at Foxboro Stadium, the 62nd consecutive sellout, and will be televised to a national audience on FOX Sports. FOX's broadcast team of Pat Summerall and John Madden will call the game. It will be their first visit to Foxboro Stadium and the first Patriots game they have announced since Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans on Jan. 26, 1997.
The game will be a prelude to the regular season opener just two weeks later, when the Patriots host the Buccaneers again. The Patriots have struggled against Tampa Bay during the preseason. Their only victory over the Buccaneers in the preseason came in 1981. Since then, the Bucs have won three straight, scoring over 40 points in each contest, including a 45-14 victory over the Patriots a year ago in Tampa. The Patriots have enjoyed more success during the regular season series, winning the first three games before losing to the Bucs in Tampa in 1997, 27-7.
Scoring should be much more conservative this year. Through three games, the Patriots have allowed just 40 points (13.3 ppg.), while the Bucs are allowing just 13.5 points per game. Both teams boasted strong defensive units a year ago. The Patriots ranked eighth in the league in total defense, while Tampa Bay finished third.
One of the most exciting matchups of the game will be the battle between Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson, acquired in a trade with the Jets during the offseason, and Patriots CB Ty Law. The rivalry enters its fifth season in the pros and pits two of the best players at their respective positions against one another. In the 1999 Pro Bowl, both Law and Johnson shared MVP honors for the AFC.
This week's game will be the final auditions for at least 15 Patriots, as the team will have to trim the roster to 65 players by Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. With a number of veterans scheduled to return from injuries in the next few weeks, the competition for final roster spots should be intense. The final cuts will be made a week after Sunday's game on Aug. 27, when all teams must be down to 53.
The Patriots opened their preseason 2-0, making Coach Belichick just the second coach in franchise history to start 2-0 before suffering his first loss, a 30-20 decision at Washington. Drew Bledsoe started and played three quarters before giving way to John Friesz in the fourth. Bledsoe finished the game completing 14 of 23 attempts for 201 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice. He opened the third quarter completing his first five passes, including a 12-yard touchdown strike to Tony Simmons.
The Buccaneers opened their preseason with a 13-12 victory over the Redskins, but lost last week in Miami, 15-13.
The Patriots close out the preseason with another short week, playing two games in four days when they host the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 24. The short week will allow them 10 days rest to prepare for the 2000 season opener against the Buccaneers on Sept. 3.