The New England Patriots have clinched their ninth consecutive AFC East championship. That’s more than any team in NFL history and they did it with an exciting last-second win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
The Patriots needed a late scoring drive, but after Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski hooked up on a scoring strike (and a bunch of other catches down the stretch), New England was the beneficiary of a hotly-debated officiating call and squeezed out a victory to move to 11-3. The Bills (currently 8-6) can only get to 10 wins, clinching the division for the Patriots.
New England is now a game and a tiebreaker up on the Steelers for the number 1 seed in the AFC and can sew that up by beating Buffalo this Sunday. The Bills, on the other hand, are playing for their first playoff appearance in 18 seasons.
Buffalo hasn’t won the AFC East since the 1995 season when Jim Kelly was still under center. The Patriots have won it 18 times since then. Miami hasn’t won it since 2008 (when Tom Brady was injured) and their only other win since Buffalo’s last crown was 2000. The New York Jets only have two division titles in their NFL-era history, both during Buffalo’s divisional drought (1998, 2002).