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Game Notes: Patriots claim 6th straight AFC East title

TEAM NOTES

PATRIOTS CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT FOR 16th TIME IN KRAFT'S 21 YEARS OF OWNERSHIP
New England has now qualified for the playoffs 22 times in its 55-year history. The Patriots have earned 16 playoff berths in the 21 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a dramatic contrast to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence. New England has won 14 AFC East crowns under Kraft's leadership. New England has won 17 division crowns overall (16 AFC East Crowns) and has qualified as a Wild Card team on four occasions (1998, 1994, 1985 and 1976). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players' strike.

2014 AFC EAST CHAMPIONS
The Patriots claimed the AFC East Division title for the sixth consecutive season and for the 14th time under Robert Kraft.

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The New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, December 14, 2014.

TITLE TOWN**
The Patriots have now won the AFC East for six straight seasons, the longest streak in AFC East division history. The Patriots have won 12 of the last 14 division crowns. The Patriots join the Los Angeles Rams (7, 1973-79), Pittsburgh Steelers (6, 1974-79) and the Minnesota Vikings (6, 1973-78) as the only teams since the merger with at least six straight division titles.

PATRIOTS IN THE PLAYOFFS
New England has qualified for the playoffs 22 times in its 55-year history. Sixteen of those playoff berths have come in the 21 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994.

PATRIOTS WIN AT LEAST 11 GAMES FOR THE 16th TIME IN TEAM HISTORY
The Patriots have won 11 games so far in 2014. It is the 16th time in team history that the team has won at least 11 games in a season and the fifth straight season with at least 11 wins. The Patriots have had 11 or more wins 12 times in Robert Kraft's 21 seasons of ownership after having only four 11-win seasons prior to Kraft purchasing the team (1976, 1978, 1985, 1986).

PATRIOTS HAVE NOW WON 17 STRAIGHT AT HOME AGAINST THE AFC EAST
The Patriots won their 17th consecutive home games against AFC East opposition. The last time the Patriots lost a home game against an AFC East opponent was on Nov. 13, 2008, when the New York Jets left Gillette Stadium with a 34-31 overtime win. The Patriots are now 33-5 against the AFC East at Gillette Stadium. The Green Bay Packers are the only NFL team to have a streak longer than the Patriots in consecutive home wins against their division with 18 from 1994-1998.

PATRIOTS WIN 16th STRAIGHT HOME GAME
The Patriots won their 16th consecutive home game, including a 7-0 record in 2014. The Patriots have not lost a regular-season home game since December 16, 2012, when San Francisco left Foxborough with a 41-34 win. The NFL record for most consecutive home victories is 27, achieved by Miami from 1971-74.

MOST CONSECUTIVE HOME VICTORIES (Current Streaks)
New England 16
Denver 7
Arizona 7
Green Bay 7

STRONG IN THE SECOND HALF
Since 2001, the Patriots have done a remarkable job of finishing the season strong, compiling an NFL-best 81-21 (.794) record in games on or after Thanksgiving.

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SECOND HALF DEFENSE DOMINATES**
The Patriots outscored the Dolphins 27-0 in the second half today, marking the second consecutive game that the Patriots have shut out their opponent in the second half. Last week in San Diego, the Patriots outscored the Chargers 10-0 in the second half. Today's game marked the fourth consecutive game that the Patriots have not allowed a touchdown in the second half. Detroit (11/23) and Green Bay (11/30) each scored lone field goals in the second half. Over their four-game stretch of second-half dominance, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 54-6 in the second half.

PATRIOTS DEFENSE KEEPS OPPONENTS OUT OF END ZONE
The Patriots defense allowed the Dolphins offense to score just one touchdown today in a 41-13 win. Last week against San Diego, the Patriots defense also allowed just a single touchdown (San Diego also scored on a fumble return). In New England's last home game against Detroit (11/23), the defense did not allow an opponent touchdown in a 34-9 win. New England has allowed one or fewer opponent offensive touchdowns in three of its last four games.

PATRIOTS HAVE THE BEST RECORD IN THE FINAL FOUR GAMES OF THE REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2009
With the win over Miami, the Patriots now have the best record of any NFL team in the last four games of the season since 2009 with a 19-3 (.864) record.

PATRIOTS RETURN BLOCKED FIELD GOAL FOR TOUCHDOWN
Jamie Collins blocked a 41-yard Miami field goal attempt on the Dolphins' first drive of the game. Kyle Arrington returned the blocked kick 62 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Patriots lead. The blocked field goal was the Patriots' third blocked field goal of the season and their second blocked field goal returned for a touchdown this season. The three blocked field goals this season ties the team record, also achieved in 1973, 1975, 1977 and 2002. Chandler Jones blocked a field goal on September 14, 2014, at Minnesota and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. Chris Jones blocked a field goal on the last play of the game against the New York Jets on October 16, 2014, to seal a 27-25 Patriots win. Overall, the Patriots have blocked four kicks this season, including three field goals and a blocked punt by Brandon Bolden at San Diego on December 7, 2014. The four blocked kicks are the most for the Patriots since 2002. The blocked field goal was the first of Collins's career and the blocked field goal return for a touchdown was the second of Arrington's career (also 10/4/10 vs. Miami).

PATRIOTS BLOCKED KICKS IN 2014
- Field Goal blocked by Chandler Jones, 9/14 at Minnesota (returned for TD by Chandler Jones)
- Field Goal blocked by Chris Jones, 10/16 vs. NY Jets
- Punt blocked by Brandon Bolden, 12/7 at San Diego
- Field Goal blocked by Jamie Collins, 12/14 vs. Miami (returned for TD by Kyle Arrington)

PATRIOTS SCORE MOST THIRD QUARTER POINTS IN TEAM HISTORY
The Patriots scored 24 points in the third quarter, marking the highest scoring total in team history in the third quarter. The previous highest was a 22 third quarter vs. the Dallas Texans on Nov. 18, 1960.

PATRIOTS OFFENSE ON PACE TO FINISH WITH 500 POINTS
The Patriots offense has 442 points so far in 2014 and is on pace to finish with 505 points. The Patriots needs 58 points (24 points per game) in their final two games to reach 500. The Patriots are the only team in NFL history to score 500 or more points in four seasons (2007-589, 2010-518, 2011-513 and 2012-557).

MOST 500-POINT SEASONS
New England 4
St. Louis 3
Denver 2
New Orleans 2

PATRIOTS HAVE FIVE GAMES WITH 40 POINTS IN 2014
The Patriots have scored 40 or more points five times in 2014, tying the 2012 teams for the franchise record for most 40-plus point games in a single season. New England had four 40 point games in 2007 and 2008. The NFL record for most 40 point games in a single season is six by seven team, most recently by Denver in 2013.

PATRIOTS HISTORY / MOST GAMES WITH 40 POINTS IN A SEASON
2014 5
2012 5
2008 4
2007 4
2010 3
1996 3
1963 3
1961 3

DIVISIONAL DOMINANCE
The Patriots improved to a 66-18 (.786) record in regular season AFC East games since the beginning of the 2001 season with the win over Miami. That is the best intra-division record in the NFL over that span (Indianapolis, 62-23 (.729)).

HOME SWEET HOME FOR THE PATRIOTS;
IMPROVE TO 35 STRAIGHT HOME WINS AGAINST THE AFC CONFERENCE
With today's victory over the Miami Dolphins, New England has now won 35 straight games at home against AFC conference opponents. The Patriots' 35 straight home wins against a conference is the longest in NFL history (following the 1970 merger). The Miami Dolphins are second in NFL history with 21 straight home conference wins (1971-1974). The Patriots last loss at home against an AFC opponent was a 33-10 loss vs. Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 2008.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

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BELICHICK WINS HIS 12TH DIVISION TITLE;**
MOST BY A HEAD COACH SINCE THE NFL MERGER IN 1970
Belichick guided the Patriots to the AFC East Title. It is the 12th division title of his career, the most by a head coach since the NFL merger in 1970. Don Shula is second with 11 division titles since the 1970 NFL merger.

BELICHICK LEADS PATRIOTS TO 11 WINS
The victory over Miami is the Patriots' 11th win of the 2014 season. Bill Belichick now has twelve 11 wins seasons, including 11 with the Patriots. Don Shula is the only coach that has more with 13 11-win seasons.

NFL HEAD COACHES WITH THE MOST 11 WIN SEASONS
Don Shula 13
Bill Belichick 12
Tom Landry 10

BRADY EARNS HIS 12TH DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
Tom Brady added on to his NFL record with his 12th division championship. Peyton Manning has the second most with ten division titles.

STARTING QUARTERBACKS WITH THE MOST DIVISION TITLES IN NFL HISTORY
Quarterback Career Division Titles
Tom Brady 12
Peyton Manning 10
Joe Montana 9
Brett Favre 8
Terry Bradshaw 7
John Elway 7

BELICHICK ADDS TO HIS NFL-BEST DECEMBER RECORD
Bill Belichick is 53-9 (.855) in December with New England, the best record in December among head coaches with one team in NFL history (min. 25 games). George Seifert is second (27-6, .818).

BELICHICK TIES CURLY LAMBEAU FOR FOURTH PLACE ALL-TIME
Belichick won his 229th career game and Curly Lambeau for fourth-place for most wins by an NFL coach.

BRADY COMES UP BIG IN DECEMBER
Tom Brady is 47-7 (.870) in December, the best record in December among quarterbacks with at least 20 starts. Roger Staubach is second (17-3, .850). Among active quarterbacks, Philip Rivers is second with a 30-7 (.811) record (not including late games).

BRADY IS GREAT WHEN IT IS LATE
Brady is 42-8 in the final four games of the season, including 2-0 in 2014.

GOSTKOWSKI BECOMES PATRIOTS ALL-TIME LEADER IN POINTS
K Stephen Gostkowski became the Patriots all-time leader in points, passing Adam Vinatieri (1,158). Gostkowski entered the game needing five points to take the lead and reached the milestone on a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter. Gostkowski finished the game with a franchise-record 1,165 career points.

Player Points
Stephen Gostkowski 1,165
Adam Vinatieri 1,158
Gino Cappelletti 1,140

BRADY JOINS THE 390 CLUB
Brady's 27-yard touchdown pass to TE Rob Gronkowski in the third quarter was his 390th career touchdown pass. He joins Peyton Manning (527), Brett Favre (508), Dan Marino (420) and Drew Brees (391) in the 390 club. After adding another fourth-quarter scoring pass to Julian Edelman, Brady now has 391 career scoring passes.

BRADY HAS 10TH STRAIGHT GAME WITH TWO OR MORE TOUCHDOWNS
Brady had two more touchdowns in a game for the 10th straight game, tied for the longest single season streak of his career. He had a 10-game streak in 2007. Brady tied a then NFL record with 13 straight games with two or more touchdowns from 2010-11. Peyton Manning has the NFL record with 15 straight games (2013-14). Brady's streak is the longest active streak. Matt Ryan has the second longest current streak with four games.

TOM BRADY WINS 43rd STRAIGHT HOME GAME AGAINST AFC
Tom Brady won his 43rd straight regular season home game as a starting quarterback against an AFC opponent. Brady is now 69-8 in his career as a starting quarterback against AFC teams at home. The last time that Brady lost a home regular season game to an AFC opponent was on Nov. 12, 2006 when the Patriots lost to the New York Jets, 17-14. Today's victory over Miami was Tom Brady's 21st consecutive victory at home against AFC East opposition. The last time Brady started a game at home against a divisional opponent and the Patriots lost was on Nov. 12, 2006 against the New York Jets. That game against the Jets was the last game played at Gillette Stadium on natural grass. Since the installation of turf at Gillette Stadium, Brady is 21-0 as a starter against AFC East opposition and is 56-3 overall as a starter on the Gillette Stadium artificial turf.

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GRONKOWSKI REACHES 1,000 YARDS**
Ron Gronkowski reached 1,000 yards on a 34-yard reception in the third quarter. He entered the Miami game with 997 yards, and finished with 1,093 yards after tallying 96 yards on three reception against the Dolphins. It is his second career 1,000-yard season. He had an NFL tight end record of 1,327 yards in 2011. Gronkowski is the first New England tight end to record two 1,000-yard seasons. He is the ninth NFL tight end with at least two career 1,000-yard seasons.

NFL TIGHT ENDS WITH AT LEAST TWO 1,000-YARD SEASONS
Tony Gonzalez 4
Jason Witten 4
Kellen Winslow, Sr. 3
Shannon Sharpe 3
Todd Christensen 3
Rob Gronkowski 2
Antonio Gates 2
Jimmy Graham 2
Ozzie Newsome 2

GRONKOWSKI REACHES 300 CAREER RECEPTIONS
TE Rob Gronkowski reached 300 career receptions with his 34-yard reception in the third quarter. He finished the game with 302 career receptions, and is the ninth Patriots player to reach 300 career receptions. Gronkowski is ninth on the Patriots reception list. WR Deion Branch is eighth with 328 receptions.

GRONKOWSKI EXTENDS HIS STREAK TO 64 STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A RECEPTION
Rob Gronkowski caught a 35-yard pass in the third quarter and has caught at least one pass in all 64 regular season games that he has played.

ARRINGTON SCORES 4TH CAREER TD;
2ND CAREER BLOCKED FG RETURN FOR TD
Kyle Arrington scored his fourth career touchdown and his second touchdown of the season on a 62-yard blocked field goal return in the first quarter. This season, he had a 9-yard fumble return for a touchdown on Oct. 5 vs. Cincinnati. Two of Arrington's career touchdowns have come on defense and two on blocked field goal returns. In addition to his two touchdowns this season, Arrington also scored on a 35-yard blocked field goal return against Miami on Oct. 4, 2010 and returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay on Dec. 19, 2010.

VEREEN SETS CAREER HIGHS IN RECEPTIONS AND YARDS
Shane Vereen recorded his 48th reception of the season, to set a new career high for receptions, topping his 47 receptions in 2013. Vereen has 421 receiving yards in 2014, and needs just seven more receiving yards to best his career high of 427 receiving yards in 2013.

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DURON HARMON RECORDS THIRD CAREER INTERCEPTION;** FIRST OF THE 2014 SEASON
DB Duron Harmon recorded his first interception of the 2014 season when he picked off a second quarter interception and returned it 60 yards to the Miami 8-yard line. It is his third career interception. It is the Patriots second 60-yard interception return of 2014. S Devin McCourty had a 60-yard return at Minnesota on Sept. 14.

GOSTKOWSKI IS OFF TO A 31-for-33 START IN 2014
Stephen Gostkowski is 31-for-33 so far this season (.939) and has a chance to set a Patriots record for best single-season field goal percentage. Adam Vinatieri holds the team record of 93.9 percent (31-for-33) in 2004.

GOSTKOWSKI ON PACE TO CHALLENGE NFL RECORD FOR MOST POINTS BY A KICKER
Stephen Gostkowski has 142 points through 16 games and is on pace for 162 points in 2014. That number would be a Patriots record and would come close to the NFL-record 166 points scored by David Akers in 2011.

NFL RECORD FOR MOST POINTS BY A KICKER
166 David Akers (SF) in 2011
164 Gary Anderson (MIN) in 1998
163 Jeff Wilkins (STL) in 2003
161 Mark Mosley (WAS) in 1983
158 Stephen Gostkowski (NE) in 2013
157 Mike Vanderjagt (IND) in 2003
153 Stephen Gostkowski (NE) in 2012

NINKOVICH SACKS
Rob Ninkovich sacked Ryan Tannehill for a 9-yard loss in the fourth quarter, raising Ninkovich's season total to a team-high 8.0 sacks. Ninkovich has had at least 8.0 sacks in three consecutive seasons, becoming the first Patriots player to have at least 8.0 sacks in three consecutive seasons since Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett achieved the feat from 1985-87. (1985, 16 ½, 1986, 9 ½ and 1987, 12 ½)

SWAT TEAM
- Devin McCourty broke up a Ryan Tannehill pass intended for Charles Clay in the end zone on third down in the first quarter, forcing Miami to punt on the next play.
- Vince Wilfork batted down a Ryan Tannehill pass intended for Jarvis Landry in the second quarter.
- Rob Ninkovich broke up a Tannehill pass intended for Donald Thomas in the second quarter.
- Patrick Chung batted down a Tannehill pass intended for Brian Hartline in the third quarter.

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CHUNG INTERCEPTION SETS UP SCORE**
Patrick Chung intercepted a Ryan Tannehill pass and returned it to the Miami 27-yard line in the third quarter. On the next play, Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a 27-yard touchdown that gave the Patriots a 31-13 lead. The interception was Chung's first of the 2014 season and his first since 2012. All of Chung's eight career interceptions have come in a Patriots uniform.

PATRIOTS HAVE 12 PLAYERS WITH AT LEAST ONE INTERCEPTION IN 2014
Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon each intercepted a pass for the Patriots today against Miami. With those two players joining the list of New England players with interceptions this season, the Patriots now have had 12 different players record interceptions in 2014. The 12 different players with interceptions so far in 2014 marks the highest number of Patriots with interceptions since the 1996 Patriots saw 13 different players record interceptions.

The 12 Patriots players with interceptions in 2014 (Most for Patriots since 1996):
- S Devin McCourty (2)
- CB Darrelle Revis (2)
- CB Logan Ryan (2)
- LB Akeem Ayers
- CB Brandon Browner
- S Patrick Chung
- LB Jamie Collins
- CB Alfonzo Dennard
- DL Dominique Easley
- S Duron Harmon
- LB Rob Ninkovich
- DL Vince Wilfork

QUICK HITS (Offense)
- Shane Vereen became the fourth Patriots running back with two or more rushing touchdowns this season, joining Jonas Gray (4), LeGarrette Blount (2) and Stevan Ridley (2).
- Tom Brady had a 17-yard run for a first down in the third quarter. It was Brady's longest rush since November 4, 2007, when he had a 19-yard rush at Indianapolis. The longest run of Brady's career was a 22-yard run at Cincinnati on Oct. 1, 2006.

QUICK HITS (Defense)
- Dont'a Hightower broke into the backfield and ran Miami RB Lamar Miller out of bounds for a 5-yard loss in the second quarter.
- Akeem Ayers stuffed Lamar Miller for a 2-yard loss on second down in the third quarter, forcing a third-and-long that the Dolphins did not convert. On the ensuing Patriots drive, Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 6-yard touchdown that made the score 38-13.
- Jamie Collins tackled Lamar Miller for a 4-yard loss on first down late in the third quarter.
- Sealver Siliga sacked Ryan Tannehill for a 2-yard loss on second down in the fourth quarter, raising Siliga's season sack total to 1.5 sacks.
- Chandler Jones sacked Tannehill for a 16 yard loss on first down in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble on the play that Miami recovered. Jones split an 11-yard sack in the fourth quarter with Dont'a Hightower. The sacks, which came in Jones's first game since Oct. 16, raised his season total to 6.0 sacks, a total which ranks second on the team (Ninkovich, 8.0).
- Chandler Jones stopped Miami RB Daniel Thomas for no gain on second down in the second quarter, forcing a third-and-long that resulted in Duron Harmon's interception and 60-yard return to the Miami 8-yard line.

LINEUP NOTES

DL CHANDLER JONES RETURNS TO ACTION
DL Chandler Jones returned to action for the first time since the game vs. the New York Jets on Oct. 16.

DONT'A HIGHTOWER RETURNS TO ACTION
LB Dont'a Hightower returned to the starting lineup after missing the game at San Diego (12/7) due to injury.

ROOKIE CB MALCOLM BUTLER MAKES FIRST CAREER START
Rookie CB Malcolm Butler made his first NFL start.

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