Tue, Dec 16, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Patriots clinch sixth straight title

AFP, FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts

Brian Tyms of the New England Patriots, top, attempts to catch a pass against the Miami Dolphins in their NFL game in Foxboro, Massachusetts, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots rode a dominant third quarter to a 41-13 NFL victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, clinching a sixth straight division title.

On a day when Denver and Indianapolis also secured division crowns, Brady threw two touchdown passes in a 24-point third quarter.

LeGarrette Blount also ran for a score in the period as the Patriots turned a one-point lead into a rout.

Rob Gronkowski, held without a reception in the first half, caught three passes for 96 yards with a score for the Patriots, who dealt another blow to Miami’s dwindling playoff hopes.

The Patriots won the American Football Conference East Division title for the 12th time in the past 14 years.

The Patriots also control their destiny for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, needing only to win their final two games against the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills.

The Denver Broncos wrapped up their fourth straight American Football Conference West Division title with a 22-10 victory at the San Diego Chargers, even though quarterback Peyton Manning was slowed by illness and sidelined briefly in the first half by a thigh injury.

Manning produced a modest 233 yards with a touchdown, but Connor Barth booted five field goals as Denver improved to 11-3.

In Indianapolis, Indian, the Colts captured a second straight American Football Conference South Division title with a 17-10 win over the Houston Texans.

The Colts defense held the Texans to 289 total yards and forced two turnovers, including a late interception that halted Houston’s last comeback bid.

The Cowboys Dallas seized control in the National Football Conference East with a 38-27 victory over division rivals the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cowboys jumped to a 21-0 lead, before the Eagles responded with 24 straight points to grab the advantage.

Dallas were not finished, though, winning 17 of the final 20 points as they took sole possession of the division lead.

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant caught all three of quarterback Tony Romo’s touchdown passes.

The outcome in Philadelphia assured the Arizona Cardinals of a playoff berth.

Super Bowl champions the Seattle Seahawks used stifling defense in a 17-7 victory over San Francisco that ended the 49ers’ playoff hopes.

The Cincinnati Bengals maintained a half-game lead in the tight American Football Conference North with a 30-0 shut-out of Cleveland — spoiling the starting debut of Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The Bengals kept a nose in front of division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers, who beat the Falcons in Atlanta 27-20.

In Detroit, Michigan, Matt Prater hit a late field goal to give the Lions a 16-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in a tough National Football Conference North matchup, the win pulling the Lions level at the top of the division with the Green Bay Packers, who fell 21-13 at the Buffalo Bills.

Marcus Thigpen had a punt return for a touchdown and Dan Carpenter hit four field goals for the Bills, who are in the hunt for a wild-card spot.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of the year, connecting on 17-of-42 passing attempts for 185 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble.

The Baltimore Ravens strengthened their playoff hopes with a 20-12 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Carolina Panthers, with quarterback Cam Newton sidelined by injuries suffered in a car accident, maintained their place at the top of the weak National Football Conference South division with a 19-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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