In 2011, the Patriots captured their fifth conference title and ninth AFC East crown in the last 12 years under head coach Bill Belichick.
They advanced to Super Bowl XLVI, where they suffered another heartbreaking loss to the New York Giants, 21-17. The Patriots have won three Super Bowls during Belichick’s tenure.
Quarterback Tom Brady has been under center for each of those title teams. The two-time NFL MVP is entering his 13th season since being selected out of Michigan in the sixth round of the 2000 draft. In 2011, he passed for 5,235 yards, claiming one of five 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history.
New England was 1-3 during the preseason, which yielded limited playing time for many of its regulars. The games begin to count Sunday at 1 p.m. and that's good news for the Pats, who will be in Tennessee facing the Titans.
In season openers, the Pats are 28-24, including an eight-game season opener win streak.
Here's five things you need to know about Sunday's game against the Titans:
1. Today's Broadcast (TV and Radio)
TV: This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS (WBZ) at 1 p.m. The NFL Today pregame show begins at noon. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties in Tennessee, while Phil Simms provides analysis.
RADIO: This will be the first New England Patriots regular season game in 32 years that Gino Cappelletti will not be broadcasting. Legendary play-by-play man Gil Santos will be joined by former Patriots quarterback and current 98.5 The Sports Hub personality, Scott Zolak. "Zo" joins Santos in the booth to provide analysis in Cappelletti's absence. Tune in to 98.5 The Sports Hub to listen to Sunday's game. And for fans anxiously awaiting Sunday's opener, pre-game on 98.5 The Sports Hub begins at 10 a.m..
2. Patriots-Titans Series at a Glance
The Houston Oilers and Boston Patriots were charter members of the American Football League (AFL) in 1960. In the league’s inaugural season, the Oilers swept both games, winning 24-10 in New England and 37-21 in Houston. The teams met 20 times as part of the AFL (1960-69), with the Patriots earning a 10-9-1 advantage.
Upon the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Oilers moved to the AFC Central Division, and the Patriots began play in the AFC East. They officially became the New England Patriots in 1971.
Since 1989, the Patriots and Titans have met nine times, and all but two of those games were played in New England.
The last time these two teams played at LP Field (the site of Sunday's game) was the 2006 regular-season finale, when the Titans needed a victory against the Patriots to clinch a playoff berth. However, a 40-23 loss dropped their record to 8-8 and ended their Wild Card hopes.
Prior to the 2006 meeting, the clubs met in New England in a 2003 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium. In the coldest game in Oilers/Titans history (four degrees at kickoff), the Titans fell to the Patriots by a final score of 17-14. The game was tied at 14 going into the fourth quarter, but Adam Vinatieri booted a 46-yard field goal with four minutes to play that would prove to be the game-winner.
Tennessee had a shot at the end as Drew Bennett caught two passes from Steve McNair in the final two minutes, but a third pass to Bennett fell incomplete
on fourth-and-12, ending the drive. New England advanced to the AFC Championship and then won Super Bowl XXVIII.
The 2003 playoff game was the second postseason contest between the teams. In a 1978 Divisional Playoff contest, the Oilers traveled to Schaefer Stadium and advanced with a 31-14 win, courtesy of three touchdown passes by Dan Pastorini and 118 rushing yards by Earl Campbell.
TITANS-PATRIOTS SERIES AT A GLANCE
- Overall series (regular & postseason): Patriots lead 22-16-1
- Regular Season Series: Patriots lead 21-15-1
- Postseason Series: Tied 1-1
- Total Points: Patriots 957, Titans 794
- Current streak: Four wins by Patriots
- Titans at home vs. Patriots: 10-6
- Titans on the road vs. Patriots: 6-16-1
- Longest Winning Streak by Titans: 4 (1975-80)
- Longest Losing Streak by Titans: 4 (1965-67; 2003-present)
- Titans vs. Patriots at LP Field: 1-1
- Last Time at LP Field: PATRIOTS 40 at Titans 23 (12/31/06)
- Titans vs. Patriots at Gillette Stadium: 0-3
- Last Time at Gillette Stadium: Titans 0 at PATRIOTS 59
- First Time: OILERS 24 at Boston 10 (11/25/60)
- Mike Munchak’s Record vs. Patriots: 0-0
- Bill Belichick’s Record vs. Titans: 8-7 (4-6 with Cle.; 4-1 with
- Mike Munchak’s Record vs. Bill Belichick: 0-0
3. Titans-Patriots Connections
Titans cornerback Jason McCourty and Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty are identical twin brothers from Montvale, N.J., who played together at St. Joseph’s High School and later with Rutgers University. They were born on Aug. 13, 1987.
Former Titans with the Patriots
- Patriots senior football advisor Floyd Reese served as the general manager of the Titans for 13 seasons (1994-06). Prior to taking the general manager’s post, he was an assistant coach with the then-Oilers from 1986-89 and assistant general manager from 1990-93. The Titans won 111 games during Reese’s tenure, which set a record by a franchise general manager. There are four players still with the Titans who were acquired while Reese was with the team: Eugene Amano, Michael Roos, David Stewart and Rob Bironas.
- Patriots cornerback Marquice Cole spent time on the Titans practice squad in 2007 and was with the Titans through the 2008 preseason.
- Patriots linebacker Mike Rivera spent the entire 2009 season with the Titans on the practice squad and was with the team through the first week of the 2010 campaign.
Former Patriots with the Titans
- Titans media relations assistant Jared Puffer served on New England’s public relations staff for four years before joining the Titans in July 2007.
- Titans cornerback Terrence Wheatley (injured reserve) played for the Patriots for two seasons (2008-2009).
Collegiate Connections to Tennessee
- Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo was a first-round draft pick in 2008 after completing his college career at Tennessee. As a Volunteer, he recorded 236 tackles in 32 games (26 starts).
- Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski finished his career at the University of Memphis 13th in NCAA Division 1-A history with 369 career points, which also set a school record.
From the Area
- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was born in Nashville on April 16, 1952, and his father, Steve, coached at Vanderbilt University.
- Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck graduated from Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, before attending Boston College, where he was a two-year starter and finished his career as the Eagles’ fifth all-time leading passer (4,548 yards). His father, Don Hasselbeck, was a second-round pick by the Patriots in 1977 and went on to play seven seasons as a tight end with the club. He totaled 99 receptions for 1,444 yards and 15 touchdowns in 86 career games with the Patriots.
- Patriots rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower is from Lewisburg, Tenn., and was named 2007 Class 3A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year and The Tennessean’s Defensive Most Valuable Player at Marshall County High School.
- Titans assistant head coach/strength and conditioning Steve Watterson is a native of Newport, R.I., and attended the University of Rhode Island.
The Chris Palmer Connection
- Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer makes his home in Cape Cod. He coached a total of four seasons with the Patriots, serving as both wide receivers (1993-95) and quarterbacks (1996) coach. He also has served as the head coach for the University of New Haven (1986-87), Boston University (1988-89) and the UFL’s Hartford Colonials (2010). A former quarterback at Southern Connecticut State, he coached the defensive line and wide receivers at Connecticut from 1972-74.
4. New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans Injury Reports
- Shane Vereen (running back) is out with a foot injury
- Alfonzo Dennard (corner back) is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury
- Daniel Fells (tight end) is listed as questionable with a shin injury
- Nick McDonald (offensive lineman) is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury
- Sterling Moore (corner back) is listed as questionable with a knee injury
- Sebastian Vollmer (offensive tackle) is listed as questionable with a back injury
- Patrick Chung (safety) is listed as probable with a shoulder injury
- Mike Otto (tackle) is out with a finger and knee injuries
- Sen'Derrick Marks (defensive tackle) is listed as doubtful with a knee injury
- Scott Solomon (defensive end) is listed as questionable with a knee injury
- Jurrell Casey (defensive tackle) is listed as questionable with an elbow injury
- Zac Diles (linebacker) is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury
5. The Last Time the Patriots and Titans Met ...
Most recently, the Titans suffered the worst loss in franchise history with a 59-0 defeat in a snowy Gillette Stadium on Oct. 18, 2009. In the victory, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passed for 380 yards and six touchdowns. The win gave the Patriots a 22-16-1 overall advantage in the series.
New England 59, Tennessee 0
Sunday, Oct. 18, 2008
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough
Scoring By Quarter
1. Patriots, 10-0
2. Patriots, 45-0 (35 points in the quarter)
3. Patriots, 59-0 (14 points in the quarter)
4. Patriots, 59-0 (Zero points in the quarter)
In Week 6 of the 2009 season, the New England Patriots took early control of a game played in wintry conditions and defeated the Titans 59-0, the largest margin of defeat in Titans history.
A thin layer of snow blanketed the Gillette Stadium turf at kickoff. The official temperature was listed at 39 degrees with the wind gusting up to 24 miles per hour, but it took little time for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to heat up. Brady completed 29 of 34 passes in the game for 380 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions (152.8 rating).
Three of his touchdown passes went to Randy Moss, who had 129 yards, and two touchdowns went to Wes Welker, who recorded a game-high 150 yards receiving.
By halftime, the Patriots led the Titans 45-0. They gained 436 yards in the first half, including 345 through the air. Nine consecutive drives resulted in Patriots scores, including five consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter.
The final tally for the Patriots included 619 yards, including 426 through the air. By contrast, the Titans had 186 total yards, including minus-seven net passing yards.
Although the Patriots missed a 40-yard field goal attempt on their opening possession, they took the early lead on their next series. On the fifth play of a 79-yard drive, Laurence Maroney took a handoff and went 45 yards for a touchdown.
Later in the first quarter, the Patriots drove 63 yards on seven plays. The drive stalled at the 15-yard line, however, and they settled for a 33-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
In the second quarter, three consecutive turnovers by the Titans in the slippery conditions resulted in touchdowns by the Patriots.
After a LenDale White fumble, which was recovered by defensive back Jonathan Wilhite, the Patriots extended their lead to 17-0 on a flea flicker from Brady to Moss.
The Titans lost the ball on their next possession when Kerry Collins was unable to handle the snap from Kevin Mawae. Two plays, later, Brady connected with Moss again, this time for a 28-yard touchdown.
Then, from the Tennessee 37-yard line, Collins attempted a deep pass to Nate Washington, but Patriots cornerback Darius Butler was there for an interception. Four plays into the ensuing drive, Brady dumped the ball to Kevin Faulk on a screen pass, and Faulk went 38 yards for a touchdown and 31-0 lead with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Brady added touchdown passes of 30 and five yards to Welker, the second coming just after the two-minute warning in the second quarter.
Early in the second half, the Patriots maintained their pace. They took the opening kickoff in the third quarter and drove 65 yards on nine plays, culminating with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Moss. Patriots back-up quarterback Brian Hoyer tacked on a one-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter for the game’s final score.
Note: Information provided by Tennessee Titans Media Relations Department.