With a 23-16 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday, the New England Patriots clinched the AFC East Division giving quarterback Tom Brady his tenth division title. Brady is the only quarterback in NFL history to win a decade’s worth of division championships.
“It means I’m playing with a great group of guys, I’ll tell you that, with a great group of coaches, and everyone that’s really committed themselves to winning and doing what’s in the best interests of the team,’’ said Brady during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan show. “I think that’s been the mark of what our team’s been all about since the day I got here. Patriot football is being selfless and committing yourself to winning, even when it doesn’t mean the ball is always going in your direction or the blitzes aren’t always called for you or you’re not always the focal point of the play. It’s a lot of guys who make an effort every week to go out and play their best.’’
As for how the Patriots played against Miami, Brady said that he has a lot of respect for the Dolphins because of the great players they have and their game strategies.
“They gave us everything we could handle yesterday… I thought we did a good job there down at the end closing it out when we needed to. That was most important. That’s why it’s satisfying…. That was pretty cool yesterday to win in a place where we’ve lost the last three times in December. That was what it took and that’s what we accomplished.’’
While New England’s offense had a season-low with 321 yards, Brady said it was the team’s defense that made the difference. He compelted 24-of-40 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown, but also threw his first incerception in 202 throws. He was sacked four times.
“I don’t think it was our best day of production on offense,’’ Brady said. “I thought Miami’s defense played really well. But our defense got us the ball in some short fields, played great in some really tough situations for them… coming off a turnover, we got backed up on our own goal line and had to put it out, didn’t give up much. Our defense really saved the day.’’
Brady did comment on wide receiver Wes Welker, who had 12 catches and 103 yards during the game.
“I said after the game the kind of respect I have for him. Nobody works harder than Wes. He’s a great competitor…. His mental and physical toughness is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. He’s what our team’s all about. He’s the mark of a Patriot football player…. Every day I’m lucky to have a guy like that on my team and as my teammate.’’
Brady said that despite numerous injuries, the Patriots will do everything they can to continue their six game winning streak.
“It’s not like we’re the healthiest team in the league right now,’’ Brady said. “There’s a lot of teams dealing with injuries. Your depth is really tested, your mental toughness is tested. I think we have the best coaches in the league. They get us prepared better than any other team in the league. All those little things become big things at the end of the day.’’
The Patriots will host the AFC South Divisional Champions, the Houston Texans, next Monday night at Gillette Stadium.