By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Rare is the Patriots game which sees New England win by more than 30 points but also sees the quarterback throw for fewer than 175 yards. Yet due to a solid running game and a pair of defensive scores, the Patriots didn’t need much from Tom Brady in their 41-7 blowout victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Nevertheless, the quarterback celebrated just the same as he would have if he had thrown for 400 yards and four touchdowns, as the game took place just after the Patriots learned they had won the AFC East.

“It was pretty sweet,” a smiling Brady said at the podium after the win. “[The Ravens] are a good team and they play well at home. We’ve been talking about playing better on the road, and we made a bunch of plays — especially on defense and special teams. We got off to a better start, and then the defense just played great, so it was a great win.”

Brady completed 14 of his 26 passes (53.8 percent) for 172 yards and a touchdown as part of that fast start, but he finished the game with his second-lowest completion total and passing yardage total of the season. On the team’s final offensive drive, the Patriots went with eight straight running plays to Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount. They picked up 40 yards, capped off by Blount’s 7-yard touchdown run.

“It was a great job. The whole offensive line, the running backs, to finish a game like that was pretty cool. We have the ability to play tough and play downhill in the run game, and when our backs get going and are reading those cuts like they were tonight, it was pretty tough to stop.”

For Brady, it’s the 11th time since 2001 that he’s won the AFC East with the Patriots, but he said it’s something that never gets old.

“They’re all special. It’s hard to come by. This team’s really fought hard all year. We’ve earned it,” Brady said. “Eleven wins in the NFL is not easy, and to win a division title is not easy. The competition is pretty stiff. We’ve faced some adversity, other teams have faced adversity, it’s just the way it is in the NFL. I think the mental toughness is what’s most important, and I think we’ve shown all year that even if we’ve been out of games and down, we’ve fought back and made them close at the end. We haven’t won them all, but we’ve won enough.”

Brady noted that in media predictions, “nobody really picked us to win today,” but the team can’t celebrate for too long. If the Patriots win next week against Buffalo, they’ll guarantee themselves a first-round playoff bye. Brady said the Patriots can’t let Christmas week distract them from their goal.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us, and it’s a holiday week, so we gotta make sure that we stay on top of this. We’ve worked too hard to this point,” Brady said. “We have to win this week, so this week is our whole season.”

When Brady stepped to the podium, he wasn’t wearing his division champs gear from the “Hat and T-Shirt Day,” like some of his teammates. Has wearing the gear lost its luster over the years?

“Absolutely not,” Brady said. “I’ll be wearing it all week.”

Read more from Michael by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.


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