Jason McCourty to finally get taste of NFL playoffs after Patriots win AFC East


FOXBORO -- Jason McCourty has waited a long time to taste the NFL playoffs, and he's going to finally get his chance in just a few weeks.

The New England Patriots secured their 10th straight AFC East title Sunday with a 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. The victory clinched a playoff spot for New England, and it also vaulted the Pats into the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture as a result of the Houston Texans losing to the Philadelphia Eagles.

For McCourty, whose brother Devin has played in the playoffs in each of his nine pro seasons with the Pats, the opportunity to win a division title and get a chance to play in the postseason is a huge thrill.

"I am excited about that," Jason told reporters. "Matt Slater said it to us at the end of the game that there is a lot more to our story, but you do not take any moment for granted. It took me 10 years to be able to say that I have won my division and put a hat and shirt on."

McCourty didn't play a ton of snaps early in Sunday's victory, but he was able to step right in when called upon and play a role in two crucial turnovers. The veteran cornerback made a great play on the sideline for an interception in the fourth quarter and forced a fumble in the third quarter. 

"It just lets you know the type of toughness and mental toughness he has," Patriots safety Duron Harmon said. "Obviously, he wasn't playing as much as he usually plays. But for him to come in and still make the plays and be mentally locked in to the game and just continue to be what we know he can be, a playmaker for us in the secondary, it shows the will and the want in his personality to make him that type of player -- someone we can continue to depend on in crunch [time] situations."

McCourty knows the Patriots have much more important goals than winning another division crown, but that won't stop him from enjoying this milestone and all the hard work it took for this moment to play out.

"You know a lot of guys in this locker room experience different things," McCourty said. "You know my brother, he has won his division every year, so not that he takes it for granted, but he goes into every season with that expectation. Other years we strive for that, but I cannot go as far to say it was expected. 

"I think every step you take moving forward, and any type of success you have, you just want to cherish it for a second before you move on. Especially for me, 10 years, you know how hard that journey is? Being so close sometimes, letting it slip through your fingers. So, I will enjoy the rest of today, then get ready for playing the New York Jets."

McCourty and the Patriots host the Jets at Gillette Stadium in Week 17. A win for the Pats would secure a top-two seed and a first-round playoff bye.

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