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Week Three - New England vs. Minnesota Vikings

The New England Patriots (0-2) return home this week to host the Minnesota Vikings (2-0). It is just the eighth regular season matchup in the history of the two franchises.

**DATE:**Sunday, September 17, 2000
**SITE:**Foxboro Stadium (60,292) - Grass
**TIME:**4:15 p.m., EDT
**TELEVISION:**This week's game will be broadcast nationally on FOX (locally on WFXT Channel 25 in Boston). Sam Rosen will provide the play-by-play detail and will be joined by broadcast partner Bill Maas.
**RADIO:**WBCN's Rock Radio Network 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, now in his 24th season as voice of the Patriots, will call the action along with Gino Cappelletti. The tandem is enjoying their 17th season together.

The New England Patriots (0-2) return home this week to host the Minnesota Vikings (2-0). It is just the eighth regular season matchup in the history of the two franchises. The Patriots hold a one-game series advantage (4-3). The last time the Patriots hosted the Vikings was in 1994 when Drew Bledsoe led the Patriots to a dramatic come-from-behind 26-20 overtime victory. In that game, he established NFL passing records with 70 attempts and 45 completions and set a franchise record with 426 yards. In the second half of that game (including overtime), he completed 37 of 53 attempts for 354 yards and three touchdowns without a sack or an interception.

The Patriots have not fared well against the NFC Central in recent years. A victory this week would snap a four-game losing streak to their division, a streak that includes the season-opening loss to the Buccaneers two weeks ago and a loss to the Vikings in Minnesota in 1997. The Patriots last victory over an NFC Central opponent was a 31-3 decision over the Chicago Bears on Sept. 21, 1997.

The Patriots are 0-2 for the first time since 1996. The last two times that the Patriots started 0-2, the team responded by qualifying for the playoffs. Both seasons, the Patriots losses were to divisional opponents (Miami and Buffalo each time). In 1994, the Patriots started 0-2 and were just 3-6 after nine games. The 26-20 overtime victory over the Vikings provided the spark that ignited a seven-game win streak and propelled the Patriots into the playoffs for the first time in eight years. In 1996, the Patriots started 0-2, but responded by winning 11 of their next 14 games to claim the division title. That year, they claimed their second conference title in franchise history and advanced to the Super Bowl. In both 1994 and 1996, the Patriots claimed their first victory in the third week of the season.

Troy Brown earned Patriots Miller Lite Player of the Game honors for the third consecutive game after averaging over 23 yards on four punt returns and adding four receptions for 27 yards. Brown continues to lead the NFL in punt returns with a 26.4-yard average. In addition, he ranks second on the team with 11 receptions and ranks third in rushing with 33 yards on two carries.

Despite heavy pressure, Bledsoe has yet to throw an interception and has completed 62.2 percent of his passes, fourth best in the AFC.

Defensively, Tedy Bruschi leads the team with 17 tackles while Henry Thomas boasts a team-leading 1.5 sacks.

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