2006 AFC EAST CHAMPIONS
Bu virtue of today's 24-21 victory over Jacksonville, the Patriots have clinched the 2006 AFC East title and have qualified for the playoffs. As a division champion, New England is guaranteed to host at least one home playoff game. The Patriots have won a franchise-record four straight AFC East titles and have won five of the last six division crowns dating back to 2001. New England has won seven division titles in the 13 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 and has led the NFL over that span with 13 playoff wins, four conference championships and three Super Bowl titles. The Patriots have now won 10 division crowns in their 46-year history. The Patriots are 8-1 all-time at home in the playoffs and have won eight straight home playoff games.
MARONEY SCORESRookie running back Laurence Maroney gave the Patriots a 24-14 lead on a 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The touchdown was his sixth of the season and his fifth via a running play. The 27-yard touchdown run was New England's longest scoring run of the season, topping Maroney's 25-yard touchdown run at Cincinnati on Oct. 1. The last time the Patriots had a scoring run of longer than 27 yards was on Nov. 3, 2002, when Kevin Faulk scored on a 45-yard run at Buffalo.
GREEN MONSTERJarvis Green strip-sacked David Garrard with 1:46 left in the game, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Rodney Harrison and thwarting a potential game-tying or game-winning drive for the Jaguars with the Patriots holding a 24-21 lead. The play sealed the victory and allowed the Patriots to run out the clock and claim the 2006 AFC East title. The sack gave Green 6.5 sacks for the season, tying him for second on the team and adding to his career-high total. The forced fumble was his second of the year.
DILLON IN THE ZONECorey Dillon gave the Patriots a 10-7 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The touchdown was Dillon's team-leading 11th of the season and was his first score since Dec. 3, when he ran into the end zone three times against Detroit. The touchdown was the 80th rushing touchdown of Dillon's career and was his 87th overall touchdown (including seven receiving scores). The touchdown was Dillon's 37th in a Patriots uniform (35 rushing, two receiving), and came in his 42nd game with New England. Entering today, the Patriots had recorded a 20-3 record in regular-season games where Dillon had scored a touchdown.
TOUCHDOWN FOR THOMASDavid Thomas caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to give the Patriots a 17-7 lead in the third quarter, scoring his first career touchdown. The rookie tight end accounted for 58 yards on the touchdown drive, grabbing a career-long 36-yard pass three plays before his touchdown catch. Thomas became the 11th different player to catch a touchdown pass from Brady this season. Last year, Brady tied the NFL record by throwing touchdown passes to 12 different receivers.
STEPHEN'S STREAKStephen Gostkowski nailed a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter to break a scoreless tie and give the Patriots a 3-0 lead. The boot was Gostkowski's 11th consecutive successful field goal, a streak that dated back to Nov. 5. The streak was broken when he missed a 49-yarder in the third quarter. Following that miss, he had made 16 of his last 18 field goals (88.9 percent) dating back to Oct. 1 and following his 1-for-2 performance today was 18-for-23 on the season (78.3 percent).
Tom Brady improved his career record as a starter to...
- 79-25 overall
- 25-4 when the final margin of the game is less than seven points
- 37-7 on Thanksgiving or later
- 60-2 when leading at halftime
- 64-1 when leading after three quarters
Tom Brady set a career high for rushing yardage today, totaling 31 yards on 10 rushes at that time. Brady's previous career high was 26 yards, gained on five rushes against Green Bay on Oct. 13, 2002.
LONG TIME SINCE LONG RUN ALLOWEDMaurice Jones-Drew's 74-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the longest rushing play allowed by the Patriots in more than 16 years. The last time New England allowed a run that long was on Nov. 18, 1990, when Buffalo's Thurman Thomas ran for a 80-yard touchdown in a 14-0 Buffalo victory at Rich Stadium. Jones-Drew's play was the fifth-longest rushing play allowed by the Patriots in team history. The longest rushing play the Patriots have ever allowed was an 87-yard touchdown run by Oakland's Jack Larscheid on Oct. 16, 1960, in the fifth game in team history. Heading into today's game, the Patriots had allowed just two rushes of 20 yards or longer, the lowest total in the NFL.
FIFTEEN RECEIVERSBam Childress made his first reception of the season on a five-yard catch to pick up a first down in the second quarter. Childress, signed off of the practice squad yesterday, became the 15th different player to catch a pass for New England this season. On the Patriots' first offensive play of the game, Kelvin Kight became the 14th different player to catch a pass for New England this year.
KIGHT FLIESWide receiver Kelvin Kight made his first career reception, a 9-yard pass from Tom Brady on New England's first offensive play of the game. Kight, playing in his third game of the season and the fourth game of his career, also made his first career start in today's game. He was signed to the Patriots' active roster from the practice squad on Dec. 9. Prior to this season, Kight had played in one career game, with Green Bay in 2004.