AFC East champion Patriots not celebrating yet

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AFC East champion Patriots not celebrating yet

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- With a 23-16 win over the Dolphins Sunday afternoon, the Patriots won their ninth AFC East title in 10 years.

The clinch was about as surprising as the post-game reaction.

"I think it's one of those things where you savor it for the next 24 hours, maybe, and then we'll enjoy it after the season," said Matthew Slater. "There's a lot of football left to be played, a lot to be decided, and goals that we still have to hopefully accomplish."

It is the Patriot Way to share credit, deflect praise, and celebrate nothing until the final bell. But this time, these guys aren't just going through the motions.

This year's clinch has come in Week 13. New England doesn't just have four games left, it has upcoming back-to-back games against the Texans (10-1) and 49ers (8-2).

However confident the Patriots might have been Sunday morning about winning the division, there's little certainly about the future from here on out.

"We'll enjoy this one today, but the road from here on out is very daunting," Slater said. "We have some tough opponents coming in to Foxboro, starting with Houston next week. There's a lot still to be decided as far as seeding is concerned. Ideally, we'd like to have the highest seed possible, so there's a lot of work left to be done."

Which is not to say the Patriots weren't appreciative.

In the locker room after the Dolphins game most players had their hats propped proudly in their lockers, and a few put them on before even getting dressed.

Trevor Scott, who had two sacks of Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, allowed himself a moment of revelry. But only because he and his teammates earned something they worked so hard for.

"We've been talking about it all week," Scott admitted. "It was good to beat the Dolphins and be AFC East Champs. That's what we aspired to all week. We had a good, hard week of practice and came out here. The fact that we got it done today . . . it's huge for us. It's a right step in the direction we want to go."

Think Scott just has a different perspective? Before signing with New England in March, the defensive end spent four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, whose "Just win, baby" mantra hasn't meant much since 2002.

But not even the longer-tenured Patriots are spoiled.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo has gotten a new championship hat and t-shirt in the last four of his five seasons in New England. He didn't wear the cap in his post game interview, but smiled widely when it was referenced.

"It never gets old," he said of the tradition. "This is a great group of teams -- Buffalo, the Jets, Dolphins."

And then he returned to center.

"We're going to enjoy this one, but we have other goals for the season," he sang in that old refrain.

Ainge on no trades at deadline: ‘Wasn’t for lack of trying’

Ainge on no trades at deadline: ‘Wasn’t for lack of trying’

For the second straight season the trade deadline came and went with no moves from the Boston Celtics.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge continues to look at the big picture as his team moves forward with their roster intact.

“It wasn’t for lack of trying, last year and this year,” said Ainge. “We came away with Al Horford in the summer. We drafted Jaylen Brown, Jaylen just continually getting better. I’m very excited about the future of both those guys. We were also able to get Ante Zizic, who is having a terrific year over in Turkey. I think that our future is looking good.

“We hope to have another good summer this year, whether we use the draft pick, whether we trade the draft pick. I think we can’t go wrong, as long as we don’t screw it up and pay too much for certain assets.”

Ainge: Adding players 'sometimes messes up your chemistry’

Ainge: Adding players 'sometimes messes up your chemistry’

With the NBA trade deadline in the rear view mirror, the Celtics will have to turn to the buyout market if they are looking to make changes to their roster.

Talking to CSN Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely, Danny Ainge explained why signing players who have  been bought out can be a risky move for a team like the Celtics.

“We’ll weigh each guy that comes on the market and see if that can be a boost to our team,” explained Ainge. “At the same time, I like our team. Bringing in new players sometimes messes up your whole chemistry, and it shifts somebody into a different role that they’re not accustomed to doing. You better know what you’re getting.

“We brought in Michael Finley, Sam Cassell. . . PJ Brown turned out to be a very good asset to us. Most of the time it sort of disrupts things. At the end of the year you go, ‘wow, we probably shouldn’t have done that.’ Even though on paper it looked like a great acquisition, it wasn’t as good as everyone thought it would be.”