Patriots Again Kick Off NFL Season

<p>The New England Patriots kick off the season opener in style, against the new and improved Oakland Raiders. Oakland, which signed the always-interesting, ever-dangerous wide receiver Randy Moss, is looking for revenge from the AFC playoff game at Foxboro a few years ago</p>

PHOTO: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, covers the ball as he gets sacked by Oakland Raiders linebacker Elijah Alexander (58) during the second half of the the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Foxboro Stadium, in Foxboro, Mass., Saturday Jan. 19, 2002. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Patriots Again Kick Off NFL Season
By Darren Kelly, Site Contributor

The NFL announced the nationally televised games for its 2005 Kickoff Weekend, and once again the New England Patriots will host the first game of the season.

The newest NFL tradition, that the Super Bowl champion hosts the NFL Thursday night season kickoff the next year, will feature the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots for the second straight year. On Thursday, Sept. 8 at 9 p.m.(ABC), the Patriots will face the Oakland Raiders. Randy Moss-the former Vikings wide receiver-will make his Raiders' debut in the primetime match-up. This will be Oakland's first trip to Foxboro since the "Snow Bowl," the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game that featured the now-infamous "tuck rule."

On Sunday, Sept. 11, the second game of FOX's national doubleheader will feature the battle of the quarterback Drews. Drew Bledsoe and the Dallas Cowboys will play at San Diego against Drew Brees and the Chargers. Bledsoe, the former Patriots and Bills quarterback, is reunited with his one-time coach, Bill Parcells, in Dallas this season. The Chargers, after a surprising run to the AFC West title last season, have high hopes for another successful year with Brees, the 2004 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

The Sunday night primetime game on ESPN will feature the Indianapolis Colts at the Baltimore Ravens. On one side of the ball will be the Colts' record-setting offense of quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James, and wide receiver Marvin Harrison. On the other side will be the Ravens' always-tough defense, led by linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who led the league in interceptions (9) last season. These two teams met in Week 15 last season with the Colts winning 20-10.

The first Monday Night Football (ABC) game of the year will be a rematch of last year's NFC Championship Game, with the Philadelphia Eagles playing at the Atlanta Falcons. The game will feature two of the NFL's most exciting quarterbacks: Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. The Eagles defeated the Falcons in last January's championship game, 27-10.

The announcement of the Kickoff Weekend games was made by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue at the NFL Annual Meeting in Maui, Hawaii.

The rest of the 2005 regular-season schedule will be announced at a later date.

Darren is a regular contributor to the Patriots Insider. You can find him in the forums under the name: DestinationSuperBowl. You can also find archives of his columns on the Insiders by searching for "Darren Kelly"

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