PATRIOTS TIE TEAM RECORD FOR MOST POINTS IN FIRST QUARTER
The Patriots scored 21 points in the first quarter today, tying the team record for most points in the quarter. New England also scored 21 points in the first quarter Oct. 29, 1978 against the New York Jets (a 55-21 win) and also scored 21 points in the first quarter Dec. 15, 1974 at Miami (a 34-27 loss). New England had 35 points at halftime, a touchdown short of the team-record 42 first-half points scored Oct. 21, 2007 at Miami.
WELKER CATCHES 100th PASS OF THE SEASON, BECOMES EIGHTH PLAYER IN NFL HISTORY WITH BACK-TO-BACK 100-CATCH SEASONS
Wes Welker caught his 100th pass of the season, a 13-yard touchdown reception from Matt Cassel in the second quarter. Welker, who had a franchise-record 112 catches in 2007, became the first player to have back-to-back 100-catch seasons with the Patriots and became the eighth player in NFL history to achieve the feat. Welker joins Marvin Harrison (1999-2002), Jerry Rice (1994-96), Herman Moore (1995-97), Sterling Sharpe (1992-93), Cris Carter (1994-95), Rod Smith (2000-01) and Randy Moss (2002-03) as the only players in league history to achieve the feat. Welker’s 100-catch performance is the third in Patriots history, joining his franchise-record 112 catches last season and Troy Brown’s total of 101 catches in 2001.
SAMMY MORRIS SETS NEW CAREER HIGH WITH SEVENTH TOUCHDOWN OF 2008
Sammy Morris gave the Patriots a 21-0 first-quarter lead on a 29-yard touchdown run. The touchdown was Morris’s team-high seventh rushing score of the season. His seven overall touchdowns are a career high, topping his six touchdowns as a rookie with Buffalo in 2000 (five rushing, one receiving) and his six scores (all rushing) with Miami in 2004. Morris’s seven overall touchdowns this season rank second on the team to Randy Moss, and his seven rushing touchdowns are the most by a Patriot since Corey Dillon had 13 rushing touchdowns in 2006.
HOBBS RECORDS THIRD CAREER KICKOFF RETURN FOR TOUCHDOWN; TYING PATRIOTS FRANCHISE RECORD
Ellis Hobbs returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 35-14 lead with 12:46 left in the first half. The kickoff return for a touchdown was the third of Hobbs’s career, tying Raymond Clayborn for the most in team history. Clayborn returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in his Patriots career with all three returns coming in his rookie season of 1977. Hobbs has also returned kickoffs for touchdowns on Dec. 17, 2006 against Houston (93 yards) and on Sept. 9, 2007 against the New York Jets (an NFL-record 108 yards). Entering today’s game, Hobbs’s career average of 27.4 yards per kickoff return was the best in Patriots history and his 1,140 kickoff return yards this season (entering today’s action) was the highest single-season total in team history.
FAULK SCORES FIFTH TOUCHDOWN OF THE SEASON
Kevin Faulk scored a touchdown on a 7-yard reception from Matt Cassel in the first quarter to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead. The touchdown was Faulk’s fifth of the season (three rushing, two receiving). Faulk’s five touchdowns this season tie the second highest total of his career, joining his 2000 total (four rushing, one receiving). Faulk’s five touchdowns are his highest single-season total since 2002, when he had a career-high seven touchdowns (two rushing, three receiving, two via kickoff returns).
CASSEL RECORDS FOURTH GAME OF THE SEASON WITH THREE OR MORE TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Matt Cassel threw three touchdown passes in the first half, tying his single-game career high for touchdown passes. Cassel also threw for three scores on three other occasions this season – against Denver on Oct. 20, against the New York Jets on Nov. 13 and at Miami on Nov. 23.
RANDY MOSS HAULS IN 20-YARD TOUCHDOWN PASS
Randy Moss gave the Patriots a 14-0 lead with a 20-yard touchdown reception from Matt Cassel in the first quarter. The touchdown was Moss’s ninth scoring reception of the season and was the 133rd touchdown reception of his career. His 133 career touchdown catches rank third in NFL history behind Jerry Rice (197) and Terrell Owens (138). Since joining the Patriots prior to the 2007 season, Moss has now caught a league-high 32 touchdown passes. Moss entered today’s game as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions per touchdown, averaging a touchdown catch for every 6.33 receptions. Entering today’s action, Moss’s eight touchdown receptions this season were tied for the AFC lead.
WILHITE RECORDS FIRST CAREER INTERCEPTION
Rookie cornerback Jonathan Wilhite recorded his first career interception when he picked off a JaMarcus Russell pass inside the Patriots’ 5-yard line in the second quarter. Wilhite, who was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, is making his second career start today. His first career start was last week at Seattle.
Mike Vrabel strip-sacked JaMarcus Russell in the first quarter, forcing him to fumble on third down on the Raiders’ second possession of the game. Vrabel’s sack was his fourth of the season, and his forced fumble was his second of the year. Vrabel now has a total of 48 sacks since joining the Patriots in 2001, a total that ranks seventh in team history. Following Vrabel’s sack today, the Raiders recovered the ball at their own 9-yard line and the Patriots took possession at Oakland’s 35-yard line following a Raiders punt, setting up a three-play, 35-yard touchdown drive that ended in a 20-yard touchdown reception by Randy Moss and a 14-0 Patriots lead.
WASHINGTON TACKLE SETS THE TONE
On the game’s opening kickoff, Kelley Washington tackled Oakland punt returner Justin Miller at the Raiders’ 7-yard line, starting the Raiders’ first possession deep in their own territory. After a three-and-out by the Patriots defense, Kevin Faulk returned an Oakland punt to the Oakland 40-yard line, allowing the Patriots’ offense to begin their first possession in Raiders territory and set up a 9-play, 40-yard drive that ended in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Matt Cassel to Kevin Faulk and a 7-0 Patriots lead.
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