The New England Patriots continued their dominance of the Eastern Division by collecting their 10th title in 12 years following a hard-fought victory against a stubborn Miami Dolphins side.
The Patriots, favorites in the pre-game betting NFL markets were nowhere near their attacking best during the 23-16 win, with Tom Brady only finishing with modest figures of 24 from 40 for 238 yards, landing a seven yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker, during a tough day at the office for the quarterback in which he was sacked four times.
Wide receiver Welker was lively throughout the victory against the Dolphins, finishing with 12 receptions for 103 yards and his crucial second-half touchdown. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s two field goals also proved invaluable for New England as they held firm in the face of a determined Miami side intent on ruining their opponent’s day.
Not for the first time this season New England were thankful to a sensational defensive effort in grinding out the win, making sure the team claimed the victory despite the offence failing to really deliver.
The win takes the Patriots to 9-3, and now in with a real chance of going on to secure that top seed in the AFC and the home advantage in the play-offs. Head coach Bill Belichick has refused to look too far ahead, however, maintaining his focus in purely on his team’s next game.
“It’s good to get another division win. We accomplished one of our goals this year, to be in the postseason. That’s good, but more importantly we just gotta keep working to get better. We still got a lot of football left to play. We got a long way to go. Hopefully we can improve every week,” insisted a calm Belichick to football news reporters following the victory.
With the AFC East title now wrapped up, New England’s focus will instantly switch to the tough prospect of the in-form Houston Texans.