WRAPPING IT UP
The Patriots clinched their seventh division title with their 12-0 win over Miami on Dec. 7. It was the earliest point in the season at which the Patriots have clinched a division title. Four of the Patriots' previous six division titles were clinched on the final day of the season, with a fifth being clinched in a tie-breaking playoff game in 1963. Before this season, the only other time the Patriots had clinched a division title with games left on the schedule was in 1978, when New England wrapped up the AFC East on Dec. 10, 1978, with one game left in the season.
PATRIOTS DIVISION-CLINCHING GAMES
|**Year**||**Date Clinched Division Title**||**Opp.**||**Final Score**||**Final Record**||**2nd Place**|
|1978||12/10/78||BUF||26-24||11-5||MIA (11-5) 1|
|1963||12/28/63*||at||BUF||26-8||7-6-1||BUF (7-6-1) 2|
|^-- Season Finale|
|*-- Division-deciding AFL playoff in Buffalo, N.Y.|
|NOTE: New England clinched in 1978 with one game remaining.|
1. New England finished ahead of Miami based on better division record (6-2 to Dolphins' 5-3).
2. Boston defeated Buffalo in a divisional playoff game to claim the division crown and advance to the AFL Championship Game.
CLINCHING DIVISION AT HOME
This season marks the second time the Patriots clinched a division title at home and the first time since 1978. Out of their six previous division titles, the Patriots clinched just one at home. On Dec. 10, 1978, New England defeated the Buffalo Bills, 26-24, at Schaefer Stadium to claim just the second division title in franchise history and the team's first crown since the AFL-NFL merger. On a frigid 28-degree afternoon with off-and-on snow, New England came back from a 24-21 fourth-quarter deficit to clinch the division on a 21-yard field goal by David Posey with eight seconds left in the game. The Patriots' five other division titles have all been clinched on the road, in the final game of the season.
PATRIOTS IN THE PLAYOFFS
The Patriots have qualified for the playoffs 12 times in their 44-year history, including six times in the 10 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. New England has won seven division 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.
PATRIOTS PLAYOFF SEASONS (12)
|2001||Division Champions||3-0||Super Bowl Champions|
|1998||Wild Card||0-1||Wild Card Round|
|1997||Division Champions||1-1||AFC Divisional Round|
|1996||Division Champions||2-1||AFC Champions|
|1994||Wild Card||0-1||Wild Card Round|
|1986||Division Champions||0-1||AFC Divisional Round|
|1985||Wild Card||3-1||AFC Champions|
|1982*||16-Team Format||0-1||First Round|
|1978||Division Champions||0-1||AFC Divisional Round|
|1976||Wild Card||0-1||Wild Card Round|
|1963||Division Champions||1-1||AFL Finalists|
Totals – 12 Playoff Seasons: 7 Division Champions; 4 Wild Cards; 1 16-Team Tournament.
10-10 all-time playoff record.
The Patriots won the AFC East Title and finished with the best record in the NFL. It is the first time in franchise history that the Patriots finished the regular season with the top mark in the conference.
2003 AFC STANDINGS
|yz- New England||14||2||.875||21.8||14.9||W12||5-1||11-1|
|yz- Kansas City||13||3||.813||30.3||20.8||W1||5-1||10-2|
|y- First-Round Bye z- Division Champion x-Wild Card Winner|
The Patriots have compiled a 10-10 record in their 20 previous playoff games. This season, New England will host its fifth playoff game since 1996 and its sixth playoff game in club history. New England has played in three Super Bowls (XX, XXXI and XXXVI) and also in the 1963 AFL Championship Game.
PATRIOTS ALL-TIME PLAYOFF RESULTS (10-10)
|02/03/02||Super Bowl XXXVI||St. Louis||W||20-17|
|01/19/02||AFC Divisional||Oakland||W||16-13 ot|
|01/03/99||AFC Wild Card||at||Jacksonville||L||10-25|
|12/28/97||AFC Wild Card||Miami||W||17-3|
|01/26/97||Super Bowl XXXI||Green Bay||L||21-35|
|01/01/95||AFC Wild Card||at||Cleveland||L||13-20|
|01/26/86||Super Bowl XX||Chicago||L||10-46|
|01/05/86||AFC Divisional||at||L.A. Raiders||W||27-20|
|12/28/85||AFC Wild Card||at||N.Y. Jets||W||26-14|
|01/08/83||First Round Playoff||at||Miami||L||31-28|
|01/05/64||AFL Championship||at||San Diego||L||10-51|
PATRIOTS PLAYOFF RECORD BY ROUND
|Wild Card Round||2-2|
|*-1982 Strike Season|