Patriots at Broncos
4:15 p.m. [WUSA-9, WJZ-13]
New England's record against Denver since 1999.
New England's record against Denver over the preceding 14 years. It would be appropriate if this game came down to a late field goal, as it features the NFL's two most accomplished place kickers. Since Adam Vinatieri's rookie year with New England in 1996, he and Denver's Jason Elam rank first and third, respectively, in field goals made and second and first, respectively, in league scoring.
Last week, Vinatieri helped the Patriots beat the Falcons with a last-minute kick. It was his second game-winner in three weeks and the 19th of his 10-year career, a number that almost looks low in light of his seemingly never-ending heroics. Vinatieri has earned a reputation as perhaps the game's most clutch player by making kick after kick when the stakes are highest. Before Vinatieri, the Colts' Jim O'Brien was the only kicker to make a game-winning field goal in the final minute of the Super Bowl (1971); Vinatieri has done it twice, sealing victories in 2002 and 2004. And in both of those years, those were merely the second playoff games Vinatieri had won. About the only thing the Patriot hasn't accomplished is booting a 60-yarder. He has a career long of 57. Playing in the high altitude at Denver affords him an opportunity to become the fifth inductee into that club, which last welcomed a member in 1998 -- Elam.