BOSTON (CBS) — For the sixth straight year, the New England Patriots have new hats and t-shirts to tell everyone they’re AFC East Champions.
The Patriots clinched their division on Sunday with a 41-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. After the game, shirts that read “Patriots Run The East” were passed out in the New England locker room, with the their spot in the postseason secured.
This marks the 14th time the Patriots have won the division since 1994, the most division championships in the NFL during that span.
For Tom Brady, who won his 12th division title on Sunday, getting some division champion swag never gets old.
“It’s great to win. It’s a great feeling. That’s why we play. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of an organization where that’s what matters the most and to play with some really great players over the years,” said Brady, who threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns against Miami. “I think wining and experiencing it with the players and coaches and Mr. Kraft and Jonathan and his family. It’s pretty awesome.”
Both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have played six seasons for the Patriots, and don’t know anything but celebrating division titles.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Edelman. “You put in all the time and effort in the offseason, you go through the long days of training camp, and before that you have OTAs. You put in all that time and effort for this here. I’ve been fortunate enough to get six, and now we get to play real football.”
“It’s always good to [clinch the division] as a team and it’s a huge accomplishment,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “It’s a huge honor. It’s great to play with this team; there are a lot of great guys and a lot of hard workers. It motivates you for sure. This is definitely a team accomplishment.”
During his time with the New York Jets, Darrelle Revis had to watch the Patriots celebrate a division title year after year. But for the first time in his eight-year career he got to experience that joy for himself on Sunday, and made sure to soak it all in.
“I’m very excited. It took a lot of hard work and I’m just excited,” said Revis. “This is my first time so I’m happy to wear the hat and the t-shirt. This is pretty awesome.”
But Brady and his teammates know their work is far from over.
“I think every year is a different year for us and every year we have a great opportunity to try to accomplish something. It doesn’t start this morning; it started back in March. It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it,” said Brady. “I don’t think you ever take winning for granted; I certainly don’t because I know how hard it is to win. I think we appreciate it. I also know that we have big goals every year for our team, so this is the one that is the first one to get.”
Special teams captain Matthew Slater addressed the team after the game, and while a division title isn’t the end goal, he made sure that no one is taking any of their success for granted.
“We’ve been so fortunate around here to be successful over the years, including this year, and not a lot of guys can say that. Every game that we win, every time we are able to have a division title, we should pause, reflect and be thankful for all that we’ve accomplished,” Slater told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton on Patriots Fifth Quarter.
It wasn’t too long ago when the Patriots were 2-2 on the season after an embarrassing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. But they have lost just once in the last 10 games, and hope to keep those winning ways going into February.
“It’s a long season and we’ve come a long way,” said Slater. “A lot of people thought we were done at some points in the season, but we’ve been able to respond together, focus on our task and continue to play football at a high level.”
With Sunday’s win, the Patriots are now 11-3 on the season and hold on to the top seed in the AFC. They can secure a first-round bye with a win over the New York Jets next Sunday.
MORE PATRIOTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON
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