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FOOTBALL

Patriots crush Bills to grab division title

By Steve Keating

"It's nice to be in the position we are in, we're happy about it," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters. "Hopefully we can continue to improve... we'll be ready for Miami next week and whatever comes after that."

It was another record-smashing day for Brady, who has now thrown 319 consecutive passes without an interception to break the old mark of 308 set by Bernie Kosar with the Cleveland Browns during the 1990-91 season.

Brady has not thrown an interception since October 17 and in that span has tossed 24 touchdowns.

Since a loss to Cleveland, the Patriots' offense has been firing on all cylinders, scoring more than 30 points in each of their last seven games without a turnover.

"I didn't realize he had broken (the record) to be honest," said Belichick. "Tom does a great job managing the game and taking care of the ball. I think he deserves (the record). He's pretty careful with the ball."

With their 15th consecutive victory over the Bills (4-11) the Patriots have placed a major hurdle in front of any AFC team dreaming of a trip to the Super Bowl -- a win in Foxborough.

Gillette Stadium has been a virtual fortress, the Patriots having beaten every team there with Brady posting an NFL record 27 consecutive home wins.

Sunday's contest was played in freezing temperatures and steady flurries so the Patriots turned to their ground game.

Rob Gronkowski, Brady's favorite target, grabbed a pair of eight-yard touchdown catches while Alge Crumpler also caught a touchdown pass.

The Bills opened the scoring on a Rian Lindell 26-yard field goal but the Patriots hit back in punishing style by powering to a 24-3 halftime lead.

New England kept up the pressure in the second half, Jarrad Page intercepting Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with Brady quickly converting the turnover into another eight-yard strike to Gronkowski.

Graham added a 26-yard field goal to close out the scoring while the Patriots' swarming defense shut down the Bills, forcing seven turnovers on three interceptions and four fumbles.

"It's very disappointing, I killed the team today by turning the ball over," said Fitzpatrick. "You just can't have them (turnovers), I really hurt our team today."

(Editing by Ken Ferris)