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(Sunday, December 27th)
Final Score: New England 35, Jacksonville 7
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Randy Moss caught three of Tom Brady's four touchdown passes, as the New England Patriots secured the AFC East crown with a 35-7 victory over Jacksonville at Gillette Stadium.
Brady was nearly flawless, completing 23-of-26 passes for 267 yards as New England finished with an untarnished home record this season.
The elusive Wes Welker had 138 yards on 13 receptions for the Patriots (10-5), who claimed the division title for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Sammy Morris rushed for 95 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown in New England's third straight win. The Patriots will be either the third or fourth seed in the AFC playoffs.
"It's good to walk off that field as AFC East champions this year," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
David Garrard threw for 185 yards on 19-of-25 efficiency and ran for Jacksonville's lone touchdown, but was intercepted twice. Maurice Jones-Drew gained 63 yards on 18 carries for the Jaguars (7-8), whose playoff hopes took a major blow. Jacksonville can still earn a wild card berth with a win next week against Cleveland and lots of help elsewhere.
"We came in with match-up concerns," said Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio. "These guys are very talented. Our Achilles heel all year has been to harass the quarterback and if you can't harass one of the top quarterbacks in the game, then you are going to have trouble."
New England got the ball to begin the game, but Laurence Maroney's fumble at the Jacksonville one-yard line spoiled a promising drive.
The Jaguars took a gamble on the subsequent drive by going for it on fourth down at their own 35. Jones-Drew, however, was wrapped up for no gain. Four plays later, Moss hauled in a two-yard touchdown for a 7-0 New England lead.
Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather picked off Garrard on the ensuing Jacksonville possession. New England quickly capitalized on the turnover when Brady and Chris Baker hooked up for a 26-yard TD on the first play of the second quarter.
A one-yard plunge by Morris and a six-yard strike from Brady to Moss gave the Patriots a commanding 28-0 lead at halftime.
Jacksonville orchestrated an eight-plus minute drive at the outset of the third quarter, but came away with no points when veteran Patriots cornerback Shawn Springs intercepted Garrard at the New England two.
Brady then guided the Patriots on a 10-play, 90-yard drive that Moss capped with a 17-yard scoring reception six seconds into the final frame.
Garrard's two-yard dash broke up the shutout bid with 12:41 remaining in the game.
Brady reached 4,000 yards for the third time in his career, most in Patriots history...Welker has a career-high 122 receptions this season...Moss made four grabs for 45 yards...New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was inactive for a second straight game because of a foot injury, while Patriots running back Fred Taylor was active after missing 10 games because of an injured ankle...The Patriots close out their road schedule at Houston on Sunday.
12/27 18:53:52 ET