Note: Information courtesy of Patriots Media Relations.
The New England Patriots will attempt to improve to a 3-0 record for the eighth time in team history and for the fourth time under Head Coach Bill Belichick when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. It will be the first of two straight games against NFC South opponents for the Patriots. After playing Tampa Bay, the Patriots will travel to face Atlanta on Sunday Night Football from the Georgia Dome on Sept. 29.
The Patriots conducted three days of joint practices with Tampa Bay this past summer during training camp prior to a nationally-televised preseason contest that was played at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 16. The Patriots won that game, 25-21. It marked the second straight season that the two teams worked together during training camp. In the summer of 2012, the Patriots held joint sessions with the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay prior to a preseason game, a 30-28 Buccaneers victory.
The Patriots are 5-2 against the Buccaneers all-time in the regular-season. Head coach Bill Belichick’s first game as head coach of the Patriots came against Tampa Bay on Sept. 3, 2000. Tampa Bay claimed a 21-16 victory in that game, but the Patriots have won five of the seven total games in the regular season series, which dates back to 1976, the first year of existence for the Buccaneers franchise. New England won the first three games in the series from 1976-88. Tampa Bay claimed the next two meetings, before a Patriots 28-0 shutout victory in a meeting between the two teams in 2005.
The Patriots beat the Buccaneers in 1988 and then went 17 years before their next win against Tampa Bay in 2005. The 17-year victory gap is the second longest for the Patriots, trailing only a 33-year win drought against the Washington Redskins, which lasted from 1973-2007.
To get you prepared for today’s game, here is what you need to know!
1. Parking Lot Information and Traffic
The stadium lots will open at 9 a.m. Parking at Gillette Stadium is $40 for cars and motorcycles and $150 for busses, RVs, and limos.
In addition, the following vehicles will not be allowed in the lots:
- Any vehicle towing a trailer (this includes fifth-wheel RV units).
- Professional catering trucks and or services without prior written approval from Stadium Management.
- Excessive tailgate setups that impede on customers parked around your vehicles, emergency access or deemed to be unsafe or inappropriate by Stadium Management.
- Any type of swimming pool, portable pool, hot tubs, water filled pickup trucks, or the like.
Allow Plenty of Time for Traffic Around the Stadium
With a capacity crowd expected, 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 the game. Fans must use I-95, I-495 or Route 140 to access Gillette Stadium.
Those not going to the game should seek alternate routes to their destination.
2. Where to Watch and Listen to the Game
This week’s game will be broadcast to a regional audience by FOX and can be seen in Boston on WFXT-TV Channel 25. Kevin Burkhardt will handle play-by-play duties with John Lynch providing color and Erin Andrews will serve as the sideline reporter. The game will be produced by Pete Macheska and directed by Artie Kempne
FOX 25 Boston can be seen on Ch. 13(SD) and 806(HD) on Comcast Xfinity and Ch. 8(SD) and 508 (HD) on Verizon FiOS.98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis.
3. The New NFL Bag Policy is in Effect
During the offseason, the NFL Committee on Stadium Security unanimously recommended the implementation of an NFL Stadium Bag Policy that limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into all stadiums for NFL games.
Prior to each preseason game, the Patriots distributed policy reminders upon entry into the parking lots and offered complimentary freezer bags upon request to patrons needing a free replacement bag. The organization will continue those practices for Thursday night’s regular season home opener as well.
Patriots fans arriving at Gillette Stadium gates and plaza areas must have bags that are in compliance with the new policy. Fans arriving with bags that are not in compliance will be asked to return their bags to their cars. There is no bag check. A description of the style and size of the bags that will be allowed is described below:
- Bags that are clear (see through) plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12.”
- One-gallon clear (see through) plastic freezer bag or similar.
- Small clutch bags, not to exceed 7” x 4” x 2” (approximately the size of a hand), with or without a handle or strap, may be carried into the stadium along with one of the clear bag options.
Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: non see-through purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, luggage of any kind, seat cushions, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.
For additional information, go to NFL.com/allclear.
4. Quick Hits
- Tom Brady needs one touchdown pass against the Buccaneers to extend his streak to 51 straight games with at least one touchdown pass. It is the secondlongest streak of all time, behind Drew Brees (54).
- Brady tied Drew Brees with his ninth NFL game with four touchdowns, 300 yards and no interceptions against St. Louis (10/28/12) and needs one more such game to be alone in first place.
- Brady has the fifth most 300-yard games in NFL historywith 53, behind Peyton Manning (74), Drew Brees (69), Dan Marino (63) and Brett Favre (62).
- Brady (337) needs five touchdowns against the Buccaneers to move into a tie with Fran Tarkenton (342) for fourth place all-time.
- Brady needs three more touchdowns to become the fifth NFL player with at least 340 career touchdown passes.
- Julian Edelman to keep his punt return average at 12.9. He has the highest punt return average in NFL history at 12.9 (81-1047) and is one of seven NFL players with a punt return average of 12.0 or above.
- Edelman needs one more punt return for a touchdown to set the team mark with his fourth punt returned for a touchdown. He is tied with Irving Fryar and Troy Brown with three returns for a touchdown.
- Stephen Gostkowski has seven career 50-yard field goals and needs one more to tie Adam Vinatieri for the most in Patriots team history.
- Jerod Mayo to start the season with 10-plus tackles in the first three games for the second straight season. Mayo had 15 tackle at Buffalo and 10 tackles vs. the New York Jets.
- Rob Ninkovich has the most fumble recoveries of any NFL player over the last four years (2010-13) with 10 and can add on to that total with a fumble recovery against the Buccaneers.
- Leon Washington needs one more kick returned for a touchdown to set the NFL record. He is tied with Josh Cribbs with eight career returns for a touchdown.
- The Patriots have forced a turnover in 29 straight games dating back to 2011. The NFL record for most consecutive games with a turnover since the merger in 1970 is 71 by Philadelphia from 1985-1990. The last time the Patriots did not register at least one turnover was on Oct. 9, 2011 vs. the New York Jets.
5. What to Look For Today
- It could be another ugly game for the Patriots. The Buccaneers are 0-2 but have lost both games by a total of three points. The team’s pass rush could hurt the Patriots if Tom Brady is unable to find his receivers.
- Coming into the game with a passer rating of 63, Tampa Bay QB Josh Freedman enters the game against a Patriots defense that held Jets QB Geno Smith to a rating of 27.6. Until the offense can improve, it may be the defense that has to carry this team. The Patriots also rank fourth in pass defense and eighth in total defense.
- With a young Patriots receivers struggling through two weeks and a Tampa Bay quarterback prone to risky plays, this could end up being a defensive battle. Against the Jets, the Pats ended three of the Jets’ last five drive on interceptions and the Bucs are tied for eight in the league for points allowed.
- Expect Doug Martin to be a useful weapon for the Buccaneers who ranks second in the league in rushing yards. The Patriots will have to keep an eye on Martin and try to jam him at the line.
- On Friday, tight end Rob Gronkowski was upgraded from doubtful to questionable for today’s game. After the Patriots’ receivers struggled against the Jets in week two, fans will be looking for number 87 during warmups. Even if Gronkowski isn’t 100 percent, the tight end could still be a game-changer for a team desperate for quality receivers.