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Regular Season Opener - Pats at Cincinnati

DATE:
September 9, 2001

SITE:
Paul Brown Stadium (65,393) - Grass

TIME:
1:02 p.m. EDT

TELEVISON:
This week's game will be broadcast regionally on CBS (locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston). Gus Johson will provide the play-by-play detail and will be joined by broadcast partners Brent Jones and Sam Wyche.

RADIO:
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 two are enjoying their 18th season together.

The New England Patriots travel to Cincinnati this week to kickoff its 2001 regular season against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:02 p.m.

It will be the 18th meeting in the series, a series in which the Patriots own a 10-7 advantage and a current three-game win streak. The two teams last squared off last season in Foxboro, where the Patriots claimed a 16-13 victory. The last time the two teams met in Cincinnati was in 1994. That year, the Patriots scored their first victory of the season, 31-28, in Week Three. The victory sparked a three-game win streak, propelling the Patriots toward their first playoff season in eight years. The last Bengals victory in the series was in 1992 in Cincinnati. The Patriots and the Bengals have only met once in a regular season opener, back in 1972, a game the Bengals won 31-7.

In season openers, the Patriots have fared just below .500, with 19 wins in 41 attempts. For the third time in the last four years the team will open the season on the road. This year, the Patriots won't host their home opener until Week Three, Sept. 23 vs. the New York Jets. It will be the latest regular season home opener the team has hosted since 1968 when the Boston Patriots played at Fenway Park and did not host a game until Oct. 13.

The last time the Patriots opened the season with consecutive road games was in 1996 when they traveled to Miami and Buffalo before returning to Foxboro to host Arizona. The Patriots lost each of their first two games that year, but rebounded to win 11 of their next 14 games to win the AFC East division title en route to an AFC Championship.

Oddly, if recent history is any indicator, the Patriots should hold an advantage in this year's opener. Since 1985, the Patriots are 7-1 in season openers in odd-numbered years and 2-6 in even-numbered years.

The Patriots closed out the 2001 preseason with a convincing 33-13 victory over the Washington Redskins to improve to 3-1. It was just the 10th time in the franchise's history that the Patriots won at least 75 percent of their preseason contests. While the offense showed great improvement in the preseason finale, the defense was noticeably consistent throughout the preseason, finishing first in the NFL in pass defense (112.5 ypg) and second in the NFL in overall defense (202.8 ypg). In their three wins, the Patriots allowed just 449 total yards (149.7 ypg) and only 29 first downs (9.7 pg).

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