The Patriots and Colts will meet for the 66th time, as the former AFC East rivals kick off the 2004 NFL season in a nationally televised prime-time matchup. The teams squared off in last season's AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium and also played in a memorable regular-season shootout last November. But a rivalry between the teams is nothing new. The Patriots and the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts played twice each year from 1970 to 2001 as members of the AFC East, with the exception of the 1982 strike year. New England has had more success against the Colts than any other team in the NFL, with the Patriots' .631 winning percentage ranking as their highest against any team they have played more than 10 times. New England is 15-4 against Indianapolis since 1993, and has won 12 of the series' last 14 games, including the last four in a row dating back to the 2000 season. The games have tended to be high-scoring affairs, as the Patriots have scored 20 or more points against the Colts in 13 of their last 14 meetings and have scored 38 or more points in three of the last four clashes.
REMATCH REDUX: For the second time in three seasons, the Patriots will open the season by hosting a rematch of the previous season's AFC Championship Game and unveiling a Super Bowl championship banner. Exactly two years ago, on Sept. 9, 2002, the Patriots unveiled their Super Bowl XXXVI championship banner at the Grand Opening of Gillette Stadium and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-14 on Monday Night Football.
SEPT. 9 OPENERS: This week's game will mark the third time in the last four seasons the Patriots will have opened the season on Sept. 9. New England opened the 2001 season on Sept. 9 (a 23-17 loss at Cincinnati) and also began the 2002 season on that date (a 30-14 win vs. Pittsburgh).
UNVEILING VS. INDY: The Patriots will unveil a championship banner prior to a season-opener against the Colts for the second time in team history. On Sept. 7, 1986, the Patriots raised their 1985 AFC championship banner at Sullivan Stadium prior to a 33-3 opening-day victory over Indianapolis. This year, the Patriots will unveil their Super Bowl XXXVIII banner prior to their season opener against the Colts.
HAPPY 44TH ANNIVERSARY: This week's game will take place exactly 44 years to the day from the first game in Patriots history, played on Sept. 9, 1960 at Boston University Field. On that day, the Boston Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos, 13-0.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will lead their offensive teams against each other for the fifth time. Brady has compiled a 4-0 record against the Colts, helping the team put up an average of 36 points per game in games he has started. Brady's first NFL start came against Indianapolis in a 44-13 win on Sept. 30, 2001. Brady recorded the highest passer rating of his career (148.3) against the Colts on Oct. 21, 2001. The Patriots defense has had past success against Peyton Manning and the Colts offense, leading New England to wins in eight of the 10 games Manning has started against the Patriots.
The Patriots have an all-time record of 65-41-1 (.612) against the teams that make up the AFC South. It is the only division in the NFL where the Patriots own a winning record against each team. New England owns winning marks against Tennessee (20-16-1), Indianapolis (41-24), Jacksonville (4-1) and Houston (1-0). In 2003, the Patriots were 6-0 against AFC South teams, sweeping the division in the regular season and defeating Tennessee in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game and Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game.
- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick began his NFL coaching career 30 years ago as a special assistant for the Baltimore Colts in 1975 under head coach Ted Marchibroda.
- Patriots assistant head coach/offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was the offensive line coach for the Colts from 1989-90. Outside of those two seasons, Scarnecchia has been on the Patriots sidelines for each year since 1982.
- Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely got his first NFL coaching job as the special teams and tight ends coach of the Colts. He spent five years with the organization.
- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his first NFL start against the Colts and completed 13 of 23 passes for 168 yards in a 44-13 victory on Sept. 30, 2001.
- Patriots tackle Brandon Gorin was born on July 17, 1978, in Muncie, Ind., and earned first-team all-state honors as a defensive tackle at Southside High in Muncie. Gorin was a three-year starter at right tackle for the Purdue Boilermakers.
- In 14 games played against the Colts, Patriots cornerback Ty Law has had 74 tackles and seven interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
- Patriots tackle Matt Light earned four letters at Purdue University (1996, 1998-2000), earning All-Big Ten conference first-team honors in 2000.
- Patriots cornerback Tyrone Poole spent three seasons with the Colts (1998-2000), starting in 41 of the 45 games he appeared in and notching 150 tackles and four interceptions.
- Patriots cornerback Eugene Wilson was born on Aug. 17, 1980 in Merriville, Ind. where he attended Merriville High. He earned an All-Duneland Athletic Conference selection, Conference MVP, two All-Indiana selections and Defensive Player of the Year.
- Colts strength and conditioning coach Jon Torine played football at Springfield College in Massachusetts, where he received his bachelor's degree in exercise science.
- Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney was born in Hartford, Conn., and attended Bloomfield High School, where he was a SuperPrep, Prep Football Report, USA Today, New Haven Register, Hartford Courant and Blue Chip Illustrated All-American selection.
PATRIOTS - COLTS QUICK HITS
- The Patriots have won seven of their last nine home openers and are 2-0 in home openers at Gillette Stadium.
- Patriots CB Ty Law has recorded seven interceptions against Peyton Manning and has returned two for touchdowns
- Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is 5-1 against the Colts as the head man in New England and is 7-3 against Indianapolis as a head coach overall.
- Coach Belichick's teams are 6-4 against Colts teams led by Peyton Manning, including victories in each of his last four games.
- Patriots QB Tom Brady is 4-0 against the Colts and owns a completion percentage of 67 percent in his four games against Indianapolis.
- Patriots K Adam Vinatieri is 28-29 in his career for a field goal percentage of .966 against the Colts.
- The Patriots have not lost a home game to the Colts since a 14-point defeat on Nov. 19, 1995.