American Football: Patriots collect another T-shirt for championship

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The Independent Online

The New England Patriots can begin thinking about a fourth Super Bowl in six years after clinching the AFC Eastern Division on Sunday. The Seattle Seahawks also gained a place in the play-offs, securing the NFC Western Division. The big difference was that New England won while the Seahawks were stunned in the final minute by the San Diego Chargers.

The Patriots dealt the Jacksonville Jaguars' play-off hopes a severe blow with a 24-21 victory that earned them a fourth straight division title, although they have missed the chance of a bye in the first round.

"We've accomplished something now," said the linebacker Tedy Bruschi while he donned a championship hat and T-shirt. "It's our first goal. We can look at it as a positive for the next couple of days. The first thing you have to do is to win the division and then go from there."

Seattle, the defending NFC champions, lost their third straight game when the Chargers' Philip Rivers found Vincent Jackson alone in the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left. The 20-17 win was San Diego's ninth running and the Chargers clinched a first-round bye.

The Patriots and Seahawks joined the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, San Diego and Indianapolis Colts with play-off berths. Both wild-card spots in each conference remained uncertain after Sunday's games, although Philadelphia (8-6) have the inside track for an NFC berth and Denver (9-6) are in the best shape in the AFC.

NFL (Sun): Atlanta Falcons 3 Carolina Panthers 10; Buffalo Bills 29 Tennessee Titans 30; Cleveland Browns 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22; Denver Broncos 24 Cincinnati Bengals 23; Detroit Lions 21 Chicago Bears 26; Houston Texans 27 Indianapolis Colts 24; Jacksonville Jaguars 21 New England Patriots 24; New York Giants 7 New Orleans Saints 30; Pittsburgh Steelers 7 Baltimore Ravens 31; San Francisco 49ers 20 Arizona Cardinals 26; Seattle Seahawks 17 San Diego Chargers 20; St Louis Rams 37 Washington Redskins 31 (ot). (Sat) Oakland Raiders 9 Kansas City Chiefs 20.