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GAME NOTES: Patriots Lose First Home Opener Since 2001; Welker Breaks Franchise Record

The New England Patriots lost to the Arizona Cardinals 20-18 Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Despite all the mistakes, the New England Patriots were in a position to win its 11th consecutive home opener at Gillette Stadium in the closing seconds of Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

But it wasn’t that kind of day for the Patriots – though it appeared to be in the final minute of New England’s loss.

Leading 20-18, the Cardinals were attempting to run out the clock with less than two minutes to play but running back Ryan Williams fumbled at Arizona’s 30-yard line and the ball was recovered by Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.

Trailing by two points with a minute to go, the Patriots’ offense took the field and appeared to score on a 30-yard Danny Woodhead run but was called back on a Rob Gronkowski holding penalty.

From there, the Patriots were hit with a false start penalty but managed the clock from there to set up kicker Stephen Stephen Gostkowski for the potential game-winning field goal with just seconds remaining on the clock.

Gostkowski was four-for-four in field goal attempts prior to his game-winning attempt, including two field goals from over 50 yards. Gostkowski, however, pushed the 42-yard attempt wide left and the Patriots lost its first home opener ever in Gillette Stadium.

“Unfortunately that wasn’t our best effort out there [Sunday],” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. “But give Arizona credit. They’re a good football team. They made the plays they had to make to win. We had our chances and in the end we just couldn’t make enough of them, we just couldn’t do enough. Hopefully we can play better, coach better next week; do a better job. Just didn’t do well enough [Sunday], it’s as simple as that – in any phase of the game. Plenty of mistakes out there. We need to correct them. We need to coach better, we need to play better, we need to do better than that.”

The Patriots entered the game with a 10-0 record in home openers at Gillette Stadium, which was the longest active winning streak in home openers in the NFL. The last time the Patriots lost a home opener was Sept. 23, 2001 at Foxboro Stadium when the Patriots fell to the New York Jets, 10-3.

For those frustrated with Sunday’s outcome remember this – after the Patriots lost its home opener in 2001, it went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans. And where is this year’s Super Bowl being played? You guessed it … New Orleans.

The Patriots (1-1) will look to rebound next week when they travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens on Sunday Night Football.

The following game notes were provided by Patriots Media Relations:

Wes Welker Becomes Patriots All-Time Reception Leader

Wes Welker became the Patriots’ all-time leader in receptions on a 25-yard pass from Tom Brady in the second quarter. That catch was the 558th reception of Welker’s Patriots career, moving past Troy Brown (557). Welker entered the game one catch behind Brown’s mark. Welker finished the day with five receptions and now has 562 as a member of the Patriots.

Welker Close to Passing Troy Brown to Move into Second on Patriots All-Time Receiving Yards List

Welker finished with 95 yards receiving against Arizona and now has 6,214 receiving yards as a member of the Patriots. Welker needs 153 more receiving yards to move past Troy Brown (6,366) into second place on the New England all-time receiving yards list. Stanley Morgan is in first place with 10,352 yards.

Welker is Streaking

Welker extended his streak to 79 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 96 straight regular-season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins. Welker has caught at least one pass in each of his 86 games with the Patriots, including seven postseason games. The last time that Welker did not catch a pass in a game was Dec. 24, 2005 when he was with Miami.

Brady Passes Johnny Unitas for 13th Place on All-Time Passing List

Tom Brady (40,531 passing yards) moved past Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (40,239) into 13th place on the NFL’s all-time passing list with a 16-yard completion to running back Stevan Ridley in the first quarter. He passed for 316 yards against Arizona and needs 21 passing yards to move past Joe Montana (40,551) into 12th place all-time. 

Brady Now Has 46 Career 300-Yard Games

Brady had his 46th career 300-yard game after finishing with 316 yards against Arizona. He is 8th all-time for most 300 yards game in a career. Hall of Famer Warren Moon is in seventh place with 49 300-yard games. In 2011, Brady had a personal best 11 300-yard games. The NFL record for most 300-yard games in a season is 13 by Drew Brees (2011).

MOST 300-YARD PASSING GAMES IN NFL HISTORY’

Peyton Manning 63 (Denver plays on Monday)

Dan Marino 63

Brett Favre 62

Drew Brees 59

Kurt Warner 52

Dan Fouts 51

Warren Moon 49

Tom Brady 46

Joe Montana 39

MOST 300-YARD PASSING GAMES IN A SEASON

13            Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2011

11            Tom Brady, Patriots, 2011

10            Rich Gannon, Oakland, 2002

10            Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2008

9            Dan Marino, Miami, 1984

9            Warren Moon, Houston, 1990

9            Kurt Warner, St. Louis, 1999

9            Kurt Warner, St. Louis, 2001

9            Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2009

9            Matt Schaub, Houston, 2009

Consecutive Games with at Least One Touchdown Pass Continues for Brady

Brady has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 34 straight regular season games, extending his team mark on a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the fourth quarter. Brady’s current streak started when he threw a touchdown pass in all 16 games in 2010 and 2011 and now the first two games of 2012. The old team record was 19 games, also set by Brady. Brady’s 34 straight games is fourth all-time in NFL history. The NFL record is 47 set by Johnny Unitas (1956-7), followed by Drew Brees with 45-current and Brett Favre with 36.

Gronkowski Moves into Sole Possession of Second on Patriots List for Touchdown Catches by a Tight End

Gronkowski’s five-yard touchdown reception from Brady in the fourth quarter was his 29th touchdown reception for his career, moving him out of a second place tie with Russ Francis (28) into sole possession of second place for most touchdown receptions by a Patriots tight end. Ben Coates is first with 50 touchdown receptions.

Most Receiving Touchdowns by a Patriots Tight End

Player TD Years

  • Ben Coates 50 1991-99
  • Rob Gronkowski 29 2010-Present
  • Russ Francis 28 1975-88
  • Ben Watson 20 2004-09

First Time in Patriots History a Kicker has Connected on Two 50 Yard Field Goals in the Same Game

Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter and a 53-yarder in the fourth quarter. The 53-yarder ties a career-long mark. He also had a 53-yarder at Denver on Nov. 11, 2009. It is the first time in Patriots history that a player has connected on two 50-yard field goals in the same game. Gostkowski is 7-of-10 from 50 yards or more during his career. He was 1-of-2 last season when he connected on 50-yarder at the New York Jets (11/13/11) and missed a 51-yarder vs. Miami (12/24/11).

Gostkowski’s 53-yarder is the Longest by a Patriot Player at Gillette Stadium

Gostkowski’s 53-yard field goal is the longest by a Patriots player at Gillette Stadium, besting his 52-yard field goal vs. Chicago on Nov. 26, 2006. It ties for the second longest field goal ever at Gillette. Buffalo’s Rian Lindell (Sept. 10, 2006) and Cincinnati’s Mike Nungent (Sept. 12, 2010) each had 54-yard field goals at Gillette Stadium.

Gostkowski Matched a Career High with Four Field Goals

Gostkowski had four field goals against Arizona (46, 34, 51 and 53) to tie a career high. He has now had four field goals in a game six times. Before today, the last time he had four field goals in a game was vs. Miami on Nov. 8, 2009.

Mayo is a Tackling Machine

LB Jerod Mayo had a team-leading 13 tackles in the season-opener at Tennessee (Sept. 9) a team-leading 9 tackles vs. Arizona. Mayo finished the 2011 season with 103 tackles, registering 100 tackles for the fourth straight year. He is the first player in New England history to register 100 tackles in his first four NFL seasons. He is the fifth Patriots player to register at least four consecutive 100 tackle seasons.

 

Ninkovich Makes an Impact

Rob Ninkovich sacked Kevin Kolb on third-and-one in the first quarter, forcing a Cardinals punt on the next play. Then, on the first play of the Cardinals’ next drive, Ninkovich tackled Ryan Williams for a five-yard loss, starting a defensive series for the Patriots that resulted in an Arizona punt from its own end zone. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Ninkovich leads the team with a total of 11.5 sacks over that span.

Jones Continues Strong Start

Rookie Chandler Jones caused an opponent turnover for the second time this season after forcing a fumble in the season opener last week against the Titans. Against Arizona today, Jones forced Kevin Kolb to fumble on a third-down rushing play in the second quarter and Tavon Wilson recovered the ball to give the Patriots possession. Earlier in the second quarter against the Cardinals, Jones broke into the backfield and drew a holding penalty on an Arizona lineman on third down helping to force a Cardinals punt from their own end zone on the drive.

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