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The Patriots have won the AFC East. Whoop-Dee-Doo.

It's an outcome fans have come to expect every season and at this point it would be more shocking if they didn't win the division. No team in the league has been as dominant in their division as the Patriots have been in the AFC East. In the last 20 years, the Patriots have won the East 14 times. Since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick united in 2001, they have won the East 12 times. Brady hasn't won the East only one time (2002) in years that he has played a full season.

For Belichick, winning the division means a lot more than just a hat and a t-shirt. It is a guaranteed slot in the post-season and the opportunity to host a playoff game at Gillette Stadium. "It's always good to be able to walk up here after we've won an AFC championship – the AFC East championship
Courtesy of Patriots.com
– so, good feeling today," Belichick told reporters after the win. He went on to say that "It's good; good to be in this position and hopefully we can play our best football going forward. That will be our goal."

Safety Devin McCourty spoke to reporters following Sunday's win about winning the east stating, "Obviously, each year that is our first goal. I think everything starts with winning your division, especially going against a team that beat us earlier this year, so we wanted to come out and get a win and we wanted to come out here and we wanted to win big."

The first goal each year. It's the starting block that everything is built around. Without it, there is no guarantee of the playoffs, there is no guarantee of at least one home game. Without it there is nothing.

Brady expounded on McCourty's thoughts saying, "I think every year is a different year for us and every year we have a great opportunity to try to accomplish something. It doesn't start this morning; it started back in March. It's a lot of hard work that goes into it. I don't think you ever take winning for granted; I certainly don't because I know how hard it is to win. I think we appreciate it. I also know that we have big goals every year for our team, so this is the one that is the first one to get."

Again, it's the first one to get. This general philosophy is what Belichick has built his team around. He understands the effect that setting and accomplishing goals can have on a group of motivated individuals. He also understands the core concept of setting goals. You don't start big. You start small and set incremental goals that are attainable. If you reach for too much or bite off more than you can chew, you are doomed to fail.
Courtesy of Patriots.com

For some Patriots the hats and t-shirts are routine. Julian Edelman has never been a part of a team that
didn't win the division. Following the game he told reporters, "It's pretty amazing. You put in all the time and the effort in the offseason, and you go through the long days of training camp, and before that you have the OTAs, and you put in all this time and work and effort for this right here. I've been fortunate enough to get six, and now we get to play some real football."

In stark contrast, Darrelle Revis has never been on a team that's won a division title and has always watched the Patriots dawn the divisional gear from afar. "It's my first one, so I'm very excited." Revis reflected, "It took a lot of hard work, and I'm just excited. This is my first time, so I'm happy to wear the hat and wear the t-shirt. It's pretty awesome."

Whether it be their 1st or 12th division title, this team knows what it takes to play at a high level. They know what it means to band together and over come diversity. They know what it means to win and achieve something greater, something that none of them could do alone.


Follow Andrew on Twitter @_AndrewSheehan

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Andrew Sheehan 12/16/2014 03:23:00 PM Edit
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