It was a numbers game.
The New England Patriots secured an 11-3 record and a 41-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, settling the score from what was a 33-20 loss at Sun Life Stadium in the season opener.
But more was secured and settled in the process of Week 15.
Here is a look at 10 of the numbers behind it.
Six Division Titles in a Row: New England’s win over Miami will keep the AFC East title in Foxborough for the sixth consecutive season. And in turn, it will keep the Patriots in select company as one of six franchises in NFL history to win six straight division titles. Becoming the first to accomplish the feat in 35 years, the Patriots join the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams won the NFC West seven times under head coaches Chuck Knox and Ray Malavasi from 1973 through 1979.
Win No. 229 for Belichick: Though the Patriots currently stand one season short of tying the Rams’ all-time divisional streak, head coach Bill Belichick now stands fourth in all-time wins, tying Curly Lambeau with 229 on Sunday. Ahead of Belichick and Lambeau stands Tom Landry with 270, George Halas with 321 and Don Shula with 347.
One Blocked Field Goal: Miami linebacker Chris McCain broke lose to block a punt from Ryan Allen in Week 1, but Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins broke lose to block a field goal from Caleb Sturgis in Week 15. The rejection culminated in a 61-yard touchdown return by cornerback and special-teamer Kyle Arrington for the first points of the game. It was New England’s third blocked field goal of the season, matching a franchise record, a week after running back Brandon Bolden blocked the franchise’s first punt since 2010.
27 Unanswered: An unsteady start versus Miami saw an 11-point lead dwindle to one on a Mike Wallace touchdown catch with five second remaining before halftime. But that score would be the final one for the Dolphins, as the 14-13 game turned into a 41-13 game over the course of the second half. The Patriots scored 27 unanswered with the aid of pressure and turnovers from the defense.
1,165 Points for Gostkowski: With a 35-yard field goal with 4:46 left in the third quarter, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski surpassed Adam Vinatieri for the most points in New England history with 1,160. Gostkowski added to his scoring record over the game’s final 20 minutes, converting on another field goal as well as two extra points. The ninth-year Patriot now stands alone with 1,165.
Gray Handles 20 Snaps: According to Pro Football Focus, Jonas Gray had logged only five snaps since tallying 57 in his 37-carry, 201-yard, four-touchdown performance in Week 11. Yet after a month-long wait, the 2012 undrafted free agent filtered back into New England’s backfield in the second half against Miami. From there, Gray played 20 snaps on the way to 11 carries for 62 yards and one reception for seven yards. He finished Week 15 with the most rushing yards on the team; quarterback Tom Brady finished second.
Gronkowski Gets 1,000 Yards: After being held without a catch in the first half, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski caught three passes for 96 yards and a touchdown in the second half versus Miami. In doing so, No. 87 crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career and into the end zone for the 11th time this season. Gronkowski now finds himself alongside Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints as the only two tight ends in league history with multiple 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown campaigns.
Chung’s First Interception in 721 Days: Patriots safety Patrick Chung hadn’t intercepted a pass since the last time he was a Patriot, picking off Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne twice on Dec. 23, 2012. Since then, the former second-round pick has gone to the Philadelphia Eagles and back. But after 721 days, Chung got back in the interception category versus Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Dec. 14, harnessing a deflected pass intended for wideout Brandon Gibson with 4:43 left in the third quarter.
Four Sacks in the Fourth: Despite pressure attributing to the interceptions from Chung and fellow safety Duron Harmon, New England’s pass rush was unable to get to Tannehill through the first three quarters Sunday. That changed in the fourth. The Patriots’ front seven collaborated to bring down the converted Texas A&M wide receiver four times, with defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, as well as Jones in tandem with fellow 2012 first-rounder Dont’a Hightower.
Three Second-Half Points Allowed in Last Three Games: Teams seldom have enough time to make halftime adjustments, yet the Patriots have had time to do something right over the last month. New England’s defense has allowed three points in the second half over the last three games, shutting out the Dolphins and San Diego Chargers entirely over the last two. Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby tacked on a field goal during the Patriots’ Week 13 loss, while Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater did the same in the Patriots’ Week 12 win. But the last time New England conceded a second-half touchdown was versus the Indianapolis Colts and left tackle Anthony Castonzo in Week 11.