FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots set a new standard of excellence with their 37-16 win over the Bills on Sunday, reaching 12 victories for an NFL-record eighth straight season.
New England had been tied with the Colts (2003-09) at seven. It was also the 12th time in franchise history the Patriots have won at least 12 games in a season.
“That’s pretty cool,’’ said Tom Brady, who completed 21 of 28 passes for 224 yards. “We have a lot of goals and we’re trying to win every time out there and sometimes it looks great and sometimes it doesn’t. The goal is to win.’’
The accomplishment was not lost on Bill Belichick, who took over the team in 2000.
“I give credit to everybody who’s a part of it,’’ said the coach. “There’s a lot of people who do a good job but, again, in the end, when we win out there it’s because the players go out there and make good plays. That’s why we win . . . We’re lucky we have a lot of good players. We’ve had a lot of them.’’
Additionally, the Patriots extended their NFL record to 11 straight seasons with at least 400 points.
Brady also set a record with 12 seasons with at least a dozen victories. He had been tied with Peyton Manning at 11.
Brandin Cooks had just two catches for 19 yards, but passed 1,000 receiving yards for the third consecutive season.
With Rob Gronkowski (1,084) also hitting the number, the Patriots have two receivers with more than 1,000 yards for the first time since 2011, when Wes Welker (1,569) and Gronkowski (1,327) accomplished it.
Welker and Randy Moss did it three straight seasons, from 2007-09.
The first pair to do it for New England? That would be Harold Jackson (1,013) and Stanley Morgan (1,002) back in 1979. Somewhere, Steve Grogan is smiling.
White, Hogan out
The Patriots scored 37 points despite missing some significant firepower with running back James White (ankle) and receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder) inactive because of injuries.
Both were limited in practice all week. It was the first game White, who was nicked early last week against the Steelers but continued to play, has missed this season. Hogan has missed six of the last seven.
Also inactive for the Patriots were running back Rex Burkhead (knee), linebackers Kyle Van Noy (calf) and Trevor Reilly, defensive tackle Alan Branch (knee), and offensive lineman Cole Croston.
With the Chiefs winning the AFC West, they will come to Gillette Stadium next year. The Patriots will again travel to Pittsburgh to face the AFC North champion Steelers. New England plays the AFC South with home games against Houston and Indianapolis and road games against Tennessee and Jacksonville (with London a possibility). The Patriots also will play the NFC North in 2018, traveling to Chicago and Detroit and hosting Green Bay and Minnesota . . . The Patriots swept the Bills for the 25th time since the rivalry was established back in the old AFL days in 1960 . . . Brady’s two scoring strikes gave him 30 in a season for the seventh time. Only Manning, Brett Favre, and Drew Brees (all with nine) have more . . . The only other Patriots QB with 30 TDs in a season was Babe Parilli in 1964 . . . Mike Gillislee had his first reception of the season — a 15-yarder on a screen play . . . Rookie tight end Jacob Hollister gained 5 yards on a jet sweep . . . Stephen Gostkowski was 3 for 3 on field goals and now has 36 for the season, two shy of his career high set in 2013 . . . “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by Sharon native Chris Ferrara, who was a onetime beer hawker at Gillette.