The Patriots bring an unblemished 3-0 record into their final preseason game of 2003, as the Chicago Bears (1-2) pay a visit to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will make a bid to go undefeated in the preseason for just the third time in their history, trying to join the 1978 and 1981 squads in preseason perfection.
New England has won its first three preseason games for just the fifth time in franchise history and heads into the Chicago contest having won its last six preseason contests. The Patriots return to Gillette Stadium after posting two preseason road wins against Washington and Philadelphia. The Patriots have won their last six preseason home games and sport an 8-3 (.727) record at Gillette Stadium, including preseason and regular season games.
So far in the 2003 preseason, the Patriots have been proficient on both sides of the ball. The New England defense has not allowed a point in the first quarter all preseason and did not allow Philadelphia to score an offensive touchdown last week. Tom Brady has paced the Patriots offense with five touchdowns and no interceptions while earning a passer rating of 114.2. This week against Chicago, New England will get its final tune-up before traveling to Buffalo to open the regular season on Sept. 7.
This week's game is the last of three preseason telecasts broadcast locally by WCVB-TV, Channel 5 in Boston, the flagship station on the Patriots preseason television network. Veteran CBS broadcaster Don Criqui provides play-by-play and is joined by three-time NFL Pro Bowler and CBS analyst Randy Cross. WCVB principal sports anchor Mike Lynch offers on-field reports from the sideline.
WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 27th season as the voice of the Patriots, and calls the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. In 2003, Santos and Cappelletti celebrate their 20th season as a broadcast tandem.
Patriots in the Preseason
Including the 24-12 win over the Eagles last week, the Patriots are 26-15 (.634) in the preseason since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. New England has had a winning record in seven of its last eight preseasons, including 2003. A winning record in the preseason has historically translated into regular-season success for New England. The Patriots have qualified for the playoffs six of the last eight times they recorded a winning preseason record. Prior to 1994, the Patriots were 60-96-1 in the preseason.
Bill Belichick in the Preseason
Bill Belichick has compiled an overall record of 23-13 (.639) in the preseason, including a 12-4 (.750) mark as Patriots head coach. With three wins to start off the 2003 preseason, Belichick is assured of another preseason with a record of .500 or above. Including this preseason, Belichick's teams have been .500 or above in all nine of his preseasons as a head coach in the NFL.
Training Camp at Gillette Stadium
In 2003, the Patriots held training camp at their own state-of-the-art, year-round facility for the first time. And by all accounts, it was a resounding success. Patriots fans of all ages came on a daily basis to the newly renovated practice fields behind Gillette Stadium in numbers never before seen in franchise history. Patriots players and coaches were able to utilize one of the country's finest football facilities to prepare for the upcoming season and were able to make a seamless transition into their regular-season routines. The opportunity for record numbers of fans to see their favorite stars in action up close combined with the improved work environment for the team to make the Patriots' 2003 training camp a hit for everyone.
This week's game will be the 12th meeting between the Patriots and Bears (including Super Bowl XX), and just the second time the teams have met in the preseason. The Patriots have won four of the five meetings between the teams since Super Bowl XX, including a memorable come-from-behind win in Champaign, Ill. last November. The last time the Bears came to Foxborough was in 1997, when the Patriots posted a 31-3 regular-season win. The two teams met in Super Bowl XX following the 1985 season, and the Bears defeated the Patriots 46-10 at the Superdome in New Orleans. A game-by-game recap of the series is listed below:
|**Preseason - Patriots 1, Bears 0**|
|Aug. 20, 1972||at Patriots 27, Chicago 17||10||Schaefer Stad.|
|**Regular Season - Patriots 6, Bears 4**|
|Oct. 21, 1973||Patriots 13, at Chicago 10||3||Soldier Field|
|Oct. 14, 1979||Patriots 27, at Chicago 7||20||Soldier Field|
|Dec. 5, 1982||at Chicago 26, Patriots 13||-13||Soldier Field|
|Sept. 15, 1985||at Chicago 20, Patriots 7||-13||Soldier Field|
|Jan. 26, 1986*||Chicago 46, Patriots 10||-36||Superdome|
|Oct. 30, 1988||at Patriots 30, Chicago 7||23||Sullivan Stadium|
|Dec. 24, 1994||Patriots 13, at Chicago 3||10||Soldier Field|
|Sept. 21, 1997||at Patriots 31, Chicago 3||28||Foxboro Stad.|
|Dec. 5, 2000||at Chicago 24, Patriots 17||-7||Soldier Field|
|Nov. 10, 2002||Patriots 33, at Chicago 30||3||Memorial Stad.|
|* - Super Bowl XX|
The Last Meeting - November 10, 2002
The Patriots rallied from a 27-6 deficit with 3:04 left in the third quarter to post a memorable 33-30 victory over the Bears in Champaign, Ill. David Patten made a tiptoe grab of a 20-yard Tom Brady pass in the back of the end zone with 21 seconds left in the game to give the Patriots an improbable win.
Chicago scored three third-quarter touchdowns to break a 6-6 halftime deadlock and take a commanding 27-6 lead late in the third quarter. But the Patriots scored on their final five possessions to steal the win. Brady completed nine of 14 passes for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the final 5:16, as the Patriots rallied after trailing 30-19 with 2:46 left.
New England began to chip into the Chicago lead with 3:04 left in the third quarter, as Kevin Faulk hauled in a pass from Brady and scampered for a 15-yard touchdown that made the score 27-13. Adam Vinatieri hit a 42-yard field goal to send the game into its final period with the Patriots staring up out of a 27-16 hole.
The fourth-quarter heroics began with the teams trading field goals, making the score 30-19 with 5:22 to go. Brady led the Patriots on a 63-yard, 7-play drive that ended in a 36-yard touchdown toss to Faulk. The Patriots saw their 2-point conversion try snuffed out by Brian Urlacher, but were within five points, 30-25, with 2:46 left. From there, the defense kept the comeback on track, stopping Chicago running back Anthony Thomas for no gain on second-and-one and then knocking him back a yard on third-and-one to force a Chicago punt and give the Patriots the ball back trailing by five with 1:50 left.
The Patriots' final drive was a complete dramatic act in itself. New England took control of the ball at its own 44-yard line and Brady quickly found Patten for a 19-yard gain to bring the ball into Bears territory. Two plays later, on third-and-three, the Bears' Bryan Robinson appeared to intercept a Brady pass, but the call was reversed when the replay showed that Robinson had not fully gained control of the ball. On the ensuing fourth-and-three situation, Brady boldly called his own number and converted a three-yard quarterback sneak to pick up a first down. Three plays later, on another third down with 28 seconds left, Brady lofted the ball high into the end zone and Patten snared it as he was running out of bounds to put the Patriots in front. New England converted the 2-point conversion to take a 33-30 lead. The Patriots snuffed out a final Bears drive as time ran out to claim the comeback win.
- Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears was a receivers coach for the Bears for six years (1993-98).
- Patriots Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Markus Paul was a fourth-round draft pick of the Bears in the 1989 NFL draft, and played for Chicago for five seasons.
- Chicago head coach Dick Jauron attended Swampscott High School in suburban Boston and starred in football, basketball and baseball. The Boston Globe named Jauron one of the top 10 prep athletes of the 20th century in the state of Massachusetts.
- Patriots nose tackle Ted Washington was acquired from the Bears in a trade on Aug. 19, 2003.
- Patriots Tight End Fred Baxter played for the Bears for one and a half seasons (2001-02), participating in 19 regular season games and recording 17 starts.
- Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown became the franchise's all-time punt return leader, passing Irving Fryar with a 16-yard return late in the third quarter against Chicago (11/10/02).
- Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin was originally drafted by Chicago in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft, and played four seasons with the Bears. Colvin started 36 of the 56 games he participated in, accumulating 211 tackles, 26 sacks, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles.
- Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was born in Markham, Ill. and was an all-conference selection in football, basketball and track for Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights, Ill.) High School.
- Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed a franchise-long, 57-yard field goal against the Bears (11/10/02).
- Chicago offensive coordinator John Shoop began his coaching career as a volunteer quarterback coach at Dartmouth College.
- Chicago special teams coach Mike Sweatman and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick coached together for 10 years on three different teams: the N.Y. Giants (1985-90), the Patriots (1996) and the N.Y. Jets (1997-99).
- Chicago cornerback Jerry Azumah played at University of New Hampshire and led St. Peter Marion (Worcester, Mass.) High School to three state titles.
- Chicago wide receiver Dez White's uncle, Adrian White, played for New England in 1993.
By the Numbers
10.5: The average number of points the Patriots defense has allowed through three preseason games.
23.3: The number of points the Patriots offense has averaged through three preseason games.
5.0: The number of sacks the Patriots have averaged through three preseason games.
2.1: The number of sacks per game the Patriots averaged in the 2002 regular season.
54-3: The aggregate advantage the Patriots have over their opponents in the first and third quarters combined this preseason.
33: The number of points the Patriots have scored in the first quarter this preseason, through three games. In the 2002 regular season, they averaged 4.1 points per game in the first quarter.
0: The number of points the Patriots defense has allowed in the first quarter this preseason. In the 2002 regular season, they allowed just 3.6 points per game in the first quarter.
8-2: The Patriots' record in their last 10 preseason games.
6: The number of consecutive preseason games the Patriots have won.
8: The longest preseason winning streak in Patriots history (08/28/77 to 08/04/79)
6: The number of consecutive home preseason games the Patriots have won.
15-4: The Patriots' record at home in the preseason since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 (.789 winning percentage).
6-1: The Patriots' preseason record at home under Head Coach Bill Belichick.
4: The number of consecutive preseasons the Patriots have posted a winning record (including 2003).
7: The number of times in the past eight preseasons that the Patriots have finished their exhibition slate with a winning record (including 2003).
6: The number of times in the past seven seasons the Patriots have finished the regular season with a record of .500 or better.
SEVEN YEARS AND COUNTING
89-61: The Patriots' record in preseason, regular-season and postseason games since 1996 (.593 win pct.).
20-9: The Patriots' preseason record since 1996 (.690 win pct).
63-49: The Patriots' regular season record since 1996 (.563 win pct).
6-3: The Patriots' postseason record since 1996 (.667 win pct.).
THE KRAFT ERA
93: The number of consecutive Patriots preseason, regular season and postseason home games that have been sold out since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994.
195: The number of consecutive Patriots games that have been televised locally.
62-33: The Patriots record at home since 1994, including preseason, regular season and postseason games.
8-3: The Patriots record at Gillette Stadium, including preseason and regular season games (.727 winning percentage)
29-11: Tom Brady's record as a starting quarterback in the NFL, including preseason, regular season and postseason games.
.725: Brady's winning percentage as a starter (including all games).
3-0: Brady's career postseason record.
5-0: Brady's career overtime record (including postseason).
65: The maximum number of players the Patriots may carry on their roster after 4:00 p.m. on Aug. 26.
53: NFL regular season roster limit as of Aug. 31.
45: NFL regular season day-of-game active roster limit, plus a third quarterback.
10: The number of games the Patriots will play against teams that finished the 2002 season at .500 or better.
7: The number of games the Patriots will play against teams that qualified for the 2002 playoffs.
8: The Patriots have the eighth hardest schedule in the NFL this season, based on opponents' 2002 winning percentage.
14,770: The total number of air miles the Patriots will log in 2003, including the preseason and the regular season. Seattle will travel the furthest, logging 31,976 miles, and the New York Giants will travel the least, at 9,076 miles.
NOT HALF BAD
6-0: The Patriots record in 2002 when leading at halftime.
13: The number of consecutive games the Patriots have won when leading at halftime.
16-1: The Patriots record in their last 17 games in which they have led at halftime.
16: The number of consecutive games the Patriots have won when leading after three quarters.