Ever since the Patriots' shocking November 7 loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns, the Patriots have learned its lesson in not playing down to its competition. They haven't experienced that kind of humiliation since then.
Coming into this weekend, Bill Belichick knew the Buffalo Bills ranked dead last in the NFL is defending the run. So with two little guys in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead having breakout years running the ball, you knew at least one of the two would have a big game on the ground Sunday afternoon in Buffalo against a team that just can't seem to get out of its own way (let alone the cellar of the AFC East).
Turns out, Green-Ellis and Woodhead were both the main stars of New England's 34-3 blowout win over the Bills, which gave them the 2010 AFC East championship once again, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs next month as the #1 seed in the AFC, and a first-round bye. The other star was rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski, a native of nearby Amherst, New York, who caught two big touchdown receptions.
The Pats are now 13-2, three games ahead of the second place New York Jets (10-5), who lost to Chicago on Sunday. The Pats' division title is their eighth since the 2001 season, when Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe under center. But believe it or not, this is only the third time in franchise history the Patriots have earned the #1 seed for the NFL postseason, and all of those earned honors have occurred within the last seven years (2003, 2007 and now 2010). Simply amazing.
Speaking of which, during the course of the game, which was never really a contest even though the team was short-handed—no TE Aaron Hernandez, for example—Brady broke former Cleveland Browns QB Bernie Kosar's 20-year-old record of 308 pass attempts without throwing an interception. The Brady record now stands at 319 pass attempts (and counting).
It's rare that New England's rushing yards outnumber the total passing yards (217 rushing to 140 passing today), but being the team player Brady is, he knew the passing game wasn't going to be the main line of attack. Still, those 217 yards rushing were the most since an astonishing 277 against the Raiders on December 14, 2008.
Green-Ellis led the way with 104 yards rushing on 19 attempts, while Woodhead had 93 on just 13 carries. The Pats simply ran the ball until Buffalo stopped them. They never did. That is in large part due to outstanding blocking by the offensive line and the tight ends (Gronkowski and veteran Alge Crumpler, who was rewarded with a rare TD catch of his own in this game).