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Game notes

Posted by Mike Reiss, Globe Staff December 21, 2008 07:23 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Game notes from the Patriots' 47-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, courtesy of the team's media relations staff:

PATRIOTS TIE TEAM RECORD FOR MOST 40-POINT GAMES IN A SEASON
The Patriots scored 47 points today, marking their fourth game this season scoring 40 or more points. New England also broke the 40-point mark against Denver on Oct. 20 (41-7), at Miami on Nov. 23 (48-28) and at Oakland on Dec. 14. New England has equaled the team record for most games scoring 40 or more points, also achieved in 2007. The Patriots have broken the 40-point mark three times in a season on three occasions (1996, 1963, 1961).

PATRIOTS SET THIRD HIGHEST TWO-GAME POINT TOTAL
The Patriots scored 47 points today and coupled with their 49-point output last week in Oakland have scored 96 points in the last two weeks. The 96 points over a two-game span mark the third-most prolific two-game span in team history, trailing only two overlapping two-game spans from the Patriots’ record-setting 2007 season. New England’s 96 points are the most for any NFL team in any two-game span this season, and the Patriots are the only NFL team this year to have back-to-back 40-point games.

PATRIOTS POST SIXTH 40-POINT WIN IN TEAM HISTORY
The Patriots’ 40-point victory over the Cardinals is the sixth win in team history by 40 points or more and is the fourth-biggest home victory in franchise annals. New England’s 47 points scored are the team’s second highest home point output in the last 25 years, trailing only last year’s 52-point output against Washington on Oct. 28, 2007.

GOSTKOWSKI SETS FRANCHISE RECORD FOR MOST FIELD GOALS IN A SEASON
Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect four-for-four on field goals despite inclement conditions, and with his third boot of the day set a new Patriots single-season franchise record for most field goals in a season. Gostkowski’s third kick of the day was his 33rd field goal of the season, eclipsing Tony Franklin’s old team mark of 32, achieved in 1986. Following his four field goals today, Gostkowski is 34-for-37 (91.9 percent) this season. His 91.9 percent accuracy rate is the second best single-season mark in franchise history, trailing only Adam Vinatieri’s 93.9 percent performance (31-for-33) in 2004. For his career, Gostkowski is 75-for-87 (86.2 percent), giving him the best career field goal percentage in Patriots history. Gostkowski was named to the 2009 AFC Pro Bowl squad last week, earning his first career Pro Bowl nod.

CASSEL THROWS FOR 345 YARDS, THREE TOUCHDOWNS
Despite inclement conditions, Matt Cassel completed 20-of-36 passes (55.6 percent) for 345 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, good for a 116.1 passer rating. The 300-yard passing game was Cassel’s third of the year and the third of his career - he previously had 400 yards on Nov. 13 against the N.Y. Jets and had 415 yards at Miami on Nov. 23. Today’s game was Cassel’s fifth of the season with three or more touchdown passes and came on the heels of a career-high four touchdown game at Oakland on Dec. 14. Today’s game was Cassel’s sixth of the season with a passer rating of 100.0 or better and was his fourth such performance in the last six weeks.

CASSEL THROWS 19th, 20th and 21st TOUCHDOWN PASSES OF SEASON
Matt Cassel threw three touchdown passes - a 15-yard toss to Kevin Faulk in the second quarter, an 11-yard scoring strike to Wes Welker in the second quarter and a 76-yard screen pass to Randy Moss in the third quarter - bringing his season total to 21 touchdown passes. Cassel’s 21 touchdown passes are the most for a Patriots quarterback in his first year as a starter since Tony Eason had 23 scoring passes while starting 13 games in 1984. Cassel is the seventh quarterback in Patriots history to have 20 or more touchdown passes in a season, joining Tom Brady (6), Drew Bledsoe (4), Babe Parilli (2), Steve Grogan (1), Tony Eason (1) and Butch Songin (1) as the only Patriots passers to achieve the feat.

MOSS HAS 76-YARD TOUCHDOWN CATCH; LONGEST CATCH BY A PATRIOT SINCE 2003
Randy Moss gave the Patriots a 38-0 lead on a 76-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass in the third quarter. The 76-yard score was Moss’s longest reception as a Patriot and was his longest catch since hauling in a 79-yard (non-scoring) pass while playing for the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 2, 2005 against the Dallas Cowboys. Moss’s 76-yard scoring catch was the longest reception (and the longest play from scrimmage) by the Patriots since Oct. 19, 2003, when Troy Brown hauled in an 82-yard touchdown from Tom Brady in overtime to defeat the Miami Dolphins 19-13. Moss’s touchdown was his 11th scoring reception of the season, a total that stands as the third highest single-season total in team history.

MOSS TIES SIXTH-BEST CAREER TOUCHDOWN TOTAL IN NFL HISTORY
Randy Moss’s 76-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was the 136th touchdown of his career (135 receiving, 1 via punt return), tying him with Marshall Faulk for the sixth-highest career touchdown total in NFL history. Faulk also had 136 career touchdowns (100 rushing, 35 receiving) from 1994-2005. Jerry Rice is the NFL’s all-time leader with 208 career touchdowns (197 receiving, 10 rushing, 1 via return).

STREAKS EXTENDED

  • The Patriots won their 11th straight game in the month of December, improving to 23-2 in December since the beginning of the 2003 season.
  • The Patriots won their 15th consecutive regular-season game against NFC opposition, finishing their third straight regular-season with a perfect 4-0 record against the NFC. The Patriots have not lost a regular-season game to an NFC team since Sept. 18, 2005 at Carolina.
  • The Patriots won their 10th straight game against an NFC West team. The last time the Patriots lost to an NFC West club was on Nov. 18, 2001, when St. Louis claimed a 24-17 win at Foxboro Stadium.
  • Today’s game was the 159th consecutive home sellout for the Patriots, a streak that includes every regular-season game, playoff game and preseason game since the beginning of the 1994 regular season.

    JORDAN SCORES TWICE IN FIRST QUARTER
    LaMont Jordan scored two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, powering the Patriots to a 14-0 lead and recording his fourth career game with two or more touchdowns on the ground. Jordan’s three previous games with two or more rushing scores all came in 2005 while a member of the Oakland Raiders. He had a career-high three rushing touchdowns on Oct. 23, 2005 for Oakland in a game against Buffalo. Jordan’s two touchdowns today came on back-to-back drives, the Patriots’ first two offensive possessions of the game. He scored on a 1-yard plunge with 8:57 left in the first quarter and a 3-yard score with 3:46 left in the first quarter. Jordan also reached the end zone last week at Oakland on a 49-yard run - his first touchdown of the season and the longest rush by a Patriots player this season. His touchdowns against the Cardinals bring his season total to three and his career total to 27. Jordan joined the Patriots as a free agent on July 26.

    HOBBS RECORDS THIRD INTERCEPTION OF SEASON, NINTH OF REGULAR-SEASON CAREER
    Ellis Hobbs picked off a Matt Leinart pass at the Patriots’ 30-yard line in the fourth quarter, thwarting what looked to be a possible Arizona scoring bid. The interception was Hobbs’s third of the season, tying his single-season career high also set as a rookie in 2005. Hobbs’s interception was the ninth of his regular-season career - he also has two career playoff picks.

    MERIWEATHER STRIP-SACK IS HIS SECOND IN THREE WEEKS
    Safety Brandon Meriweather had his second strip-sack in three weeks, coming in on a blitz late in the third quarter, sacking Matt Leinart for a 12-yard loss and forcing him to fumble on the play. Jarvis Green recovered the ball for the Patriots at the Cardinals’ 15-yard line, setting up a 30-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski that gave the Patriots a 47-0 lead. Meriweather also had a strip-sack in the final minutes of the Patriots’ 24-21 victory over Seattle on Dec. 7, coming in on a blitz and sacking Seattle’s Seneca Wallace to force a turnover that allowed the Patriots to run out the clock on a tight win. Meriweather, who leads the team with four interceptions this season, now has two career sacks and two career forced fumbles.

    FAULK SCORES SIXTH TOUCHDOWN OF SEASON
    Kevin Faulk scored on a 15-yard pass play in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 21-0 lead. The touchdown was Faulk’s sixth of the season and his third receiving touchdown (he also has scored three times rushing). Faulk’s six touchdowns from scrimmage are a new single-season career high. In terms of total touchdowns, Faulk’s six scores are the second highest of his career, trailing only his seven touchdowns in 2002 (two rushing, three receiving and two via kickoff returns).

    FAULK SETS CAREER HIGH FOR RECEIVING YARDS
    Kevin Faulk has set a new single-season career high for receiving yards, passing his old career best of 465 receiving yards in 2000. Following his 15-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, Faulk had 471 receiving yards this season. His 478 receiving yards this season are the fourth-most by a running back in Patriots history and are the most by a New England running back since Tony Collins set a Patriots running back record with 684 receiving yards in 1986.

    WELKER SCORES THIRD TOUCHDOWN OF SEASON
    Wes Welker caught his third touchdown pass of the season, an 11-yard strike from Matt Cassel in the second quarter that gave the Patriots a 28-0 lead. Welker, who was been named to his first career Pro Bowl last week, is the first player in Patriots history with back-to-back 100-catch seasons and is also the first player in Patriots history with back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

    WELKER’S LONG RETURN SETS UP PATRIOTS’ FIRST TOUCHDOWN
    Wes Welker returned an Arizona punt 28 yards to the Cardinals’ 33-yard line, allowing the Patriots to begin their first offensive possession in Arizona territory and set up a 33-yard drive that ended in a LaMont Jordan touchdown and a 7-0 Patriots lead. Welker’s 28-yard punt return was the second longest of the season by the Patriots, trailing only Welker’s 44-yard punt return against Denver on Oct. 20 - a return that was the longest by a Patriot since 2000.

    VRABEL TACKLE FOR LOSS FINISHES THREE-AND-OUT
    Mike Vrabel stopped Arizona running back Tim Hightower behind the line of scrimmage for a three-yard loss on third down on the Cardinals’ first possession of the game, finishing off a game-opening three-and-out for the Patriots defense. Wes Welker brought back the ensuing punt 28 yards to the Arizona 33-yard line, setting up a Patriots touchdown drive and a 7-0 New England lead

    HOT WHEN IT’S COLD
    The Patriots have enjoyed tremendous recent success in cold weather and improved to 17-1 since 1993 when the kickoff temperature is 30 degrees or colder. Additionally, the Patriots improved to 10-0 all-time in snowy games in Foxborough since moving from Boston in 1971. New England is now 9-0 in snowy games since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000, including a 7-0 home record and a 2-0 road mark.

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