The New England Patriots enter Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins with
a 5-0 record in AFC East games this year.
With a victory, the Patriots would finish their slate of divisional games without a loss for the second time in team history. The Patriots were a perfect 6-0 in AFC East play in 2007. New England had just one loss in division play in 1986, 1997, 2003, 2004 and 2005, 2010 and 2011.
The Patriots and Dolphins will square off for the 95th time, including three playoff games, in their 47th year as division foes and for the second time in 2012.
The Patriots beat the Dolphins in Miami 23-16 on Dec. 2. The Dolphins and Patriots began playing twice a year during the regular season in 1967. The Patriots swept the series in 2010 and 2011 and will be looking for their third straight sweep and ninth sweep in the series overall.
The Patriots have won eight of the last 10 games against Miami and hold a 28-17 record in regular-season games played in Foxborough, including an 8-2
record at Gillette Stadium. But, the Patriots are only 15-33 all-time in Miami.
Sunday's game will also mark the 13th time the Patriots and Dolphins will meet in the regular-season finale and for the seventh time in Foxborough. The Patriots are 3-3 against Miami in those games. The two teams last met in the season’s final game in 2010 when the Patriots beat the Dolphins, 38-7 on Jan. 1, 2011.
The two have played three times in the postseason with New England holding a 2-1 advantage.
This week’s game will be broadcast to a national audience by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-byplay duties with Phil Simms providing color.
On the radio, 98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. Legendary play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 36th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action for the final time in the regular season. Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak will handle the color commentary.
Here's five things you need to know about Sunday's game.
1. Foxborough Parking Ban in Effect, Stadium Parking Information and Gates Openings
Foxborough’s parking bylaw, which prohibits residents from parking vehicles on their property for a fee will be in effect Monday. Those in violation of the parking ban will be subject to a $100 fine. Click here for more information.
As for parking along Route 1, parking lots will open for game day at 12:25 p.m. Gillette Stadium's gates open at 2:25 p.m. for admission to the game.
General Parking Rates for Gillette Stadium Lots
- $40 for cars
- $125 for RVs (enter P10 N from the North, Enter P11 from the South)
- $125 for Limos (enter P1 N from north or P7 S from the south)
- $200 for buses (Enter P10 N from the North, Enter P11 from the South)
- $40 for motorcycles (one per space)
All Gillette Stadium Lots are cash only.
Allow Plenty of Time for Traffic Around the Stadium
Drivers are advised to allow themselves plenty of time when traveling near the stadium on game day. Traffic restrictions will be in place on local roads before and after Sunday's game. Fans must use I-95, I-495 or Route 140 to access Gillette Stadium.
Click here to keep an eye on game day traffic with Patch’s live traffic feature.
2. The Dos and Don’ts at Gillette Stadium
No one wants to be "that fan" that doesn't know the stadium's security protocol. Be prepared on game day by reviewing the dos and don’ts at Gillette Stadium as well as other useful information about the facility:
- Ticket Policies
- Patron Screening
- Prohibited Items
- Acceptable Items
- Banner Policy
- Smoking Policy
- Medical Supplies or Dietary Considerations
- Fan Code of Conduct
- Security Assistance During an Event
- Lost & Found
- Letters of Disinvite
- Designated Driver Program
3. The Last Time the Patriots and Dolphins Met
The , at Sun Life Stadium for their sixth consecutive victory and earned the AFC East title for the fourth straight year. The Patriots are assured of their 12th winning season in a row.
With the Patriots holding a 20-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter, QB Tom Brady started a drive at his own 20-yard line and led a 16-play drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock. After taking a knee on a third down play, K Stephen Gostkowski kicked his third field goal of the game to pad the lead. Miami scored a field goal on the ensuing drive but the Patriots recovered an onsides kick attempt with 31 seconds to play and ran out the clock for the victory.
During the game-winning drive, RB Stevan Ridley gained 46 yards on 10 carries to help drain the clock. In the process, Ridley eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Miami mistakes proved pivotal in the win. A botched punt, a
roughing the punter penalty and a fumble by Miami resulted in 17 New England points. Another penalty on Miami negated a Dolphins touchdown.
Miami also had an interception returned for a touchdown that was negated due to a penalty in the first quarter. The Patriots finished with a season-low of 321 total yards and Brady went 24 of 40 for 238 yards with one touchdown.
Brady also threw his first interception in 202 pass attempts and for only the fourth time in 2012.
WR Wes Welker tied Jerry Rice with his 17th game with 10 receptions after finishing with 12 receptions for 103 yards. He set an NFL record with his 16th game with 10-plus receptions and 100 or more yards, breaking a three-way tie with Rice and Andre Johnson.
After stopping Miami on the first series, Dolphins P Brandon Fields dropped a low snap and was tackled by Matthew Slater at the Miami 12-yard line. The Patriots scored five plays later on a 2-yard run by Ridley.
Early in the second quarter, Miami S Jimmy Wilson was called for a roughing the punter penalty to give the Patriots a first down and jump started a 75-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Welker for a 14-3 lead.
DE Trevor Scott, who led the defensive unit with two sacks, forced a fumble on a 7-yard sack of Miami QB Ryan Tannehill on the Dolphins next drive, and DL Vince Wilfork recovered the ball at the Miami 25-yard line. That turnover led to a 43-yard field goal by Gostkowski for a 17-3 lead. Tannehill avenged that
mistake with 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his 2-yard touchdown run to make it 17-10 at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, Gostkowski gave the Patriots a 20-10 lead after a 32-yard field goal. Miami responded with a 33-yard field goal to cut the New England lead to 20-13 with 8:28 left to play in the game.
4. Legendary Broadcasters Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti to be Honored by Patriots
The radio tandem of Gil Santos and Gino “The Duke” Cappelletti articulated the
sights and sounds and the play-by-play action of Patriots football for 28 years.
Cappelletti announced his retirement in July and Santos announced that the 2012 season will be his last. Prior to Sunday’s game, the two will be introduced at Gillette Stadium to give the fans a chance to honor Gil and Gino’s legendary careers.
For most Patriots fans, there has been but one “Voice of the New England
Patriots” and it belongs to Gil Santos. Now in his 36th season, Sunday’s game will be Santos’ 743rd. Santos began calling games for the Boston Patriots at Fenway Park in 1966. He called the games for the Patriots for the next 14 seasons (1966-79). He returned to the booth in 1991 and has broadcast every Patriots game since then.
Cappelletti, a member of the original Boston Patriots in 1960 and the all-time
leading scorer in the American Football League’s history, retired after 31 years as the team’s iconic analyst. A member of the Patriots Hall of Fame since 1992, Cappelletti spent his entire 11-year career with the Patriots from 1960-70 after joining the team from the University of Minnesota. He went on to earn five all-star selections as well as the AFL’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1964.
Following his playing career, Cappellletti spent seven seasons (1972-78) in the broadcast booth before returning to the sidelines as the special teams coach from 1979 through 1981 on Ron Erhardt’s staff. He returned to the broadcast booth in 1988, where he remained through the 2011 season.
5. What to Watch For During Sunday's Game at Gillette Stadium
- Tom Brady will aim to guide the Patriots to their 12th win this week. Since entering the NFL in 2000, Brady’s teams have reached 12 regular-season wins in six different seasons, tied with Brett Favre for second all-time, behind Peyton Manning.
- With one touchdown pass against the Dolphins, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 48 straight games with at least one touchdown pass. He is currently tied with Johnny Unitas (47) for the second longest streak, behind Drew Brees (54).
- Brady (9) needs one more game with four touchdowns, 300 yards and no interceptions to tie Drew Brees (10) for the all-time NFL lead.
- Brady (3,776) needs 12 completions to move past Vinny Testaverde (3,787) into 8th place on the NFL’s all-time completion list.
- Brady (44,522) needs 90 passing yards to move past Drew Bledsoe (44,611) into 9th place on the NFL’s all-time passing list.
- If Brady has one touchdown pass against Miami, he will be the first NFL player to have thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 16 games for three straight seasons.
- Since Bill Belichick became Patriots head coach in 2000, New England is 16-9 (.640) against the Miami Dolphins.
- Since 2000, the Patriots are 60-21 (.738) against AFC East opponents. The Patriots are 16-9 against the Dolphins over that span and are 18-8 against the New York Jets and 23-3 against the Buffalo Bills in that time.
- The Patriots have not been swept in their season series with a divisional opponent since 2000, when they lost both games to Miami and also to the New York Jets.
- The Patriots defense has forced a turnover in 26 straight games, dating back to 2011 and including the first 15 games of 2012. The last NFL team to have at least one takeaway in all 16 regular season games was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.
- The Patriots have 416 first downs and need one more to break the record set by New Orleans in 2011.
- Wes Welker has caught 12 passes in each of this last two games against Miami.
- In 10 career games against the Dolphins, Wes Welker has caught 87 passes for 1,084 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 8.7 catches and 108 receiving yards per game against his former club. Those averages are the best against any team Welker has faced more than once in his career. He also has six 100-yard games against Miami with a 138-yard game at Miami (10/21/07), a 120-yard game at Miami (11/23/08), a 10-catch, 167-yard game in 2009 at Miami (12/06/09), eight receptions for 160 yards, including a 99-yard touchdown at Miami (9/12) in the 2011 season-opener, 12 receptions for 138 yards vs. Miami (12/24/11) and 12 receptions for 103 yards in the first 2012 meeting. Welker has three 100-yard games each against Buffalo and the New York Jets.
- Welker needs one reception to extend his streak to 93 straight regular season games with at least one reception as a member of the Patriots to extend his franchise record. Welker has an overall streak of 109 straight
regular-season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins.
- Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history.
- Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.
- Gostkowski has 149 points in 2012 and needs seven points to break Gino Cappelletti’s single-season record of 155 points set in 1964.
- Brandon Lloyd (902) needs 98 receiving yards against Miami to become the 10th Patriots player to have a 1,000-yard receiving season.
- With 10 tackles, Jerod Mayo will have his 11th 10-plus tackle game of the season. He had his 10th 10-tackle game vs. San Francisco (12/16) to match the career-high 10 10-tackle games he had in 2010.
- Rob Ninkovich has a team-leading five forced fumbles. If he has one more forced fumble, he will break a tie with Mike Vrabel (five in 2007) for the most forced fumbles for a Patriots player within the last 20 years.
- Stevan Ridley (1,189) needs 11 yards to become the fifth Patriots running back to reach 1,200 yards in a season.