Saturday, September 15, 2012
Home-opening win streak revisited
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Patriots have won 10 straight home openers. They go for No. 11 on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
The last home-opening loss was a 10-3 setback to the Jets on Sept. 23, 2001, which was a defining game in franchise history as quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured, opening the door for Tom Brady to take over.
A look back at the home-opening win streak:
2002: Patriots 30, Steelers 14 First-ever regular-season game in Gillette Stadium. The Patriots explode for 17 third-quarter points, sparked by a Tom Brady-to-Donald Hayes 40-yard TD, breaking open a 10-7 halftime lead.
2003: Patriots 23, Jets 16 The third game of the season after trips to Buffalo and Philadelphia. Asante Samuel’s 55-yard interception return for a TD in the fourth quarter puts the capper on a game that is tied at 6 at halftime.
2004: Patriots 27, Colts 24 Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt misses a 48-yard field goal that could have tied the game with 24 seconds remaining. A Eugene Wilson forced fumble at the 1-yard line (on Edgerrin James) late in the fourth quarter is a key play.
2005: Patriots 30, Raiders 20 When Randy Moss catches a long-bomb 73-yard touchdown reception for the Raiders, who knew it would be a preview of what was to come two years later? Corey Dillon’s two second-half TD rushes break open a 17-14 game at halftime.
2006: Patriots 19, Bills 17 Trailing 17-7 at halftime after Tom Brady is strip-sacked on the first offensive play of the season (returned for a TD), the Patriots roar back in the second half sparked by a fourth-and-1 stop at their 7-yard line on the Bills’ opening drive. A Ty Warren safety of J.P. Losman provides the winning points.
2007: Patriots 38, Chargers 14 Spygate is raging and the Patriots play angry. It is 24-0 at the half and talk of an undefeated season is already picking up.
2008: Patriots 17, Chiefs 10 What many figured would be a ho-hum opener was overshadowed by Tom Brady tearing his ACL on the 15th offensive snap from scrimmage. The complexion of the season changes immediately.
2009: Patriots 25, Bills 24 Looks like a loss as the Patriots trail 24-13 with 5:25 to play. But a furious late surge, with the key play coming on Pierre Woods’ forced fumble on Leodis McKelvin’s kickoff return right before the two-minute warning, bails the Patriots out.
2010: Patriots 38, Bengals 24 A rout from the get-go. It is 24-3 at the half, with Gary Guyton’s 59-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter (against Carson Palmer) helping set the tone.
2011: Patriots 35, Chargers 21 Returning home on a short week after a Monday night opener in Miami, the Patriots are sparked by a second-quarter goal-line stop on fourth down (Jerod Mayo on Mike Tolbert). The offense then drives 99 yards for a touchdown to go up 17-7 and they never look back. Game-changer.