Note: Information courtesy of The New England Patriots Media Relations Department.
The New England Patriots improved to 8-3 with a win over the Jets last Thursday and will be aiming for their ninth victory of the season when they travel to face the Miami Dolphins.
If the Patriots win, they will earn their 12th straight winning season. Only San Francisco (1983-98) and Dallas (1970-85) with 16 straight winning seasons, have had longer stretches than 11.
New England enters this week tied with Oakland (1970-80) for the third longest streak in NFL history. While New England is 57-15 against the AFC East since 2001, almost half of those losses have been to Miami. The Patriots are 15-7 against the Dolphins during that time.
Overall, the Patriots are 14-33 (.298) all-time in Miami.
This week’s game will be broadcast on CBS and can be seen in the Boston area on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Dierdorf providing color.
98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 36th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action. Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak will handle the color commentary.
Here's five things you need to know about Sunday's game:
1. It's a 'Hat and T-Shirt' Game for Pats Sunday
Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins is the type that former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi lived for ... "hat and t-shirt." Brushci often referred to championship games as "hat and t-shirt" games and Sunday is just that for the Pats. With a win against the Dolphins, New England will clinch its ninth AFC East Division title - fourth in a row - in the past 11 years. A win also secures a 12th straight winning season for the Patriots.
2. History of the Rivalry: Patriots-Dolphins Series at a Glance
The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will square off for the 94th time, including three playoff games, in their 47th year as division foes.
The Dolphins and Patriots began playing twice a year during the regular season in 1967. The Patriots have won eight of the last 10 games against Miami, including a sweep in the two meetings in 2011. The Patriots beat Miami in the 2011 season-opener, 38-24, on Monday Night Football and then beat the Dolphins, 27-24 in the rematch at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots swept the series in 2010 and again in 2011 for their seventh and eighth series sweeps, respectively. The Patriots have had the upper hand at home against Miami, as they hold a 28-17 record in games played in New England in the regular-season, including an 8-2 record at Gillette Stadium.
But, the Patriots are only 14-33 alltime in Miami. The two have played three times in the postseason with New England holding a 2-1 advantage.
3. The Last Time the Patriots and Dolphins Met …
The New England Patriots rallied from a 17-0 first half deficit to beat the Miami Dolphins 27-24 and clinch a first round bye in the playoffs.
Tom Brady, who finished with his 44th 300-yard game with 304 yards on 27 completions, was just 7-of-19 for 87 yards in the first half. Brady was playing in front of an offensive line that was without left tackle Matt Light, who was unable to play due to an ankle injury.
Logan Mankins moved from left guard to left tackle to take his place but was forced out of the game in the second series due to a knee injury. The Patriots punted on their first six offensive possessions.
Brady completed 20-of-27 passes for 217 yards in the second half and led the Patriots on five straight scoring drives, including three in the third quarter to tie the game at 17. The Patriots took the second half kickoff and moved to the Miami 26-yard line to set up a 45-yard field goal by K Stephen Gostkowski. On the first play of the third quarter, Brady connected with TE Rob Gronkowsmki for a 22-yard gain.
Miami QB Matt Moore fumbled a snap on the next series and NT Vince Wilfork recovered at the Miami 38-yard line. Brady moved the Patriots to the 1-yard line before connecting with WR Deion Branch on a touchdown to close the Miami lead to 17-10. A 1-yard sneak by Brady tied the game at 17 heading
into the fourth quarter.
CB Devin McCourty registered his first interception of the 2011 season to end Miami’s first drive in the fourth quarter. The Patriots responded with a 10-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 42-yard field goal by Gostkowski to put the Patriots in the lead at 20-17. After stopping Miami on three straight plays, the Patriots engineered an 11-play, 59-yard drive that ended with Brady’s second 1-yard touchdown run of the day for a 27-17 lead.
The Dolphins made it close on Moore's 15-yard scoring pass to WR Davone Bess with 1:48 to play. They had three timeouts left, but their hopes faded when Brady hit WR Wes Welker for a 6-yard gain and a first down and the Patriots ran out the clock to secure the win. Welker had 12 catches for 138 yards to surpass Randy Moss (1,493) for the most receiving yards in a single season with 1,518. Miami took a 3-0 first quarter lead after scoring on their opening possession. Miami scored on its first two possessions in the second quarter to take a 17-0 halftime lead.
Gronkowski set the team franchise record for most yards by a tight end with 1,219 and Brady set a single-season best with 4,897 passing yards.
4. What to Watch for Sunday
Bill Belichick (200) needs one more win to tie Dan Reeves for seventh place all-time.
With one touchdown pass against the Dolphins, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 44 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and continue his third longest streak all time, behind Drew Brees (54) and Johnny Unitas (47).
Brady has 52 career 300-yard games in the regular season and needs one more to break a fifth place tie with Kurt Warner. Drew Brees and Brett Favre are tied for third with 62 300-yard games.
Brady tied Drew Brees with his ninth NFL game with four touchdowns, 300 yards and no interceptions against St. Louis and needs one more such game to be alone in first place.
Brady has 35 games with three touchdowns and no interceptions and needs one more such game to tie Brett Favre (36) for second place, behind Peyton Manning (37).
Brady (3,671) needs 16 completions to move past Fran Tarkenton (3,686) into 9th place on the NFL’s all-time completion list. Vinny Testaverde is in 8th place with 3,787 completions.
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.
With 10 tackles, Jerod Mayo will have his sixth straight 10- plus tackle game and his 10th 10-plus tackle game of the season. He had a career-best with 10 double digit tackle games 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.
Ninkovich has 6.0 sacks in 2012 and needs one more to set a career best. He had 6.5 sacks in 2011.
Stevan Ridley (93:9) needs 61 yards rushing to reach 1,000 yards and give New England its 15th 1,000-yard rushing season. He will be the 12th Patriots player to reach 1,000 yards and first since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2010.
Wes Welker (16) needs one more 10-plus catch game to break a second place tie with Marvin Harrison (16) and Andre Johnson (16) and tie Jerry Rice (17) for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.
Welker needs one reception to extend his streak to 89 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 105 straight regular-season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins.
Welker (961) needs 39 receiving yards for his 5th career 1,000 yard season.
5. Did You Know …
- The Patriots are 19-0 in the second half of the season since 2010. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the season. Their last loss in the second half was in the 2009 season-finale at Houston, a 34-27 loss, on Jan. 3, 2010.