The Cleveland Browns were buoyed by bravado as they arrived in Foxboro, Massachusetts for Sunday’s matchup with the New England Patriots. Fresh off of the team’s bye-week, the Browns believed that they were the ideal opponent to finally stop the New England juggernaut. In fact, wide receiver Jarvis Landry even made a bold prediction of victory earlier in the week.
However, hubris can often become the main ingredient in a stew of disaster. Early turnovers, costly penalties and a determined Patriots defense helped the Browns to learn that harsh lesson on Sunday evening.
Tom Brady threw for 259 yards and two touchdown passes as the Patriots defeated the Cleveland Browns 27-13 at Gillette Stadium.
Brady completed 20 of 36 passes, eight of them to Julian Edelman, including both touchdowns.
After taking a 3-0 lead on a 20-yard field goal by Mike Nugent, New England capitalized on the first of three first-quarter Cleveland turnovers. Browns running back Nick Chubb took a handoff from quarterback Baker Mayfield, but had the ball inadvertently kicked out of his hands by left guard Joel Bitonio. It was scooped up by Dont’a Hightower and returned 26 yards for a touchdown.
On the ensuing series, New England cornerback Jonathan Jones hammered the ball from Chubb’s hands on the Patriots 4. Instead of a significant would-be gain by the Browns, the balk was recovered by safety Devin McCourty.
Finally, Lawrence Guy broke into the backfield and stepped in front of Mayfield’s shovel pass attempt to Chubb on the Cleveland 16 for his first-career interception. The Patriots would need only two plays following the turnover, as Brady found Edelman for an 8-yard touchdown.
The Browns did trim New England’s lead to 17-10 early in the third quarter. But the Patriots struck right back on their next possession, using a 59-yard completion from Brady to James White to help set up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Edelman.
The Browns did, however, find some success against a defensive unit that has resembled an immovable object. For only the second time this season, the Patriots defense surrendered a passing touchdown. They did so in the second quarter, capping a six-play, 54-yard drive with a 21-yard pass from Mayfield to Demetrius Harris. Despite his difficulties with turnovers, Chubb ran the ball very well, collecting 131 yards rushing on 20 carries. Mayfield finished the game completing 20 of 31 passes for 194 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
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With the victory, the Pats improved to 8-0 for the third time in team history and the first time since 2015.
With Sunday’s win over the Browns, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick earned his 300th career NFL coaching victory. In a twist that would qualify in the world of literary irony, Belichick earned his first career coaching victory as Cleveland’s head coach versus the New England Patriots. Belichick now sits behind only Don Shula (347) and George Halas (324) on the NFL’s all-time win list.
Following the game, team owner Robert Kraft presented Belichick with a game ball, amidst congratulatory applause from his players. Never one for individual praise, Belichick deflected the credit to his players, when asked about the feat following the game.
“Privilege to coach this team, and to coach the guys I’ve coached throughout my career. Fortunately I didn’t play in any of those games that’s a good thing for us. I’ve had a lot of good players, lot of great players they’re the ones that win the games.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, whose relationship with Belichick is frequently and unfairly scrutinized, had glowing things to say about the only head coach for whom he has played throughout his NFL career:
“He’s the best coach of all time and it’s a privilege to play for him for as many years as I have. He’s taught me so much on and off the field, just been a great mentor for me. Being here 20 years ago – it was his first year, it was my first year. It’s been a great journey. Just proud of him, everything he’s accomplished. Amazing to think that he coached for another place and they didn’t think he was good enough, and then he comes here and does a great job. It’s a great celebration for him and certainly hard-earned, well-deserved.”
Per the Associated Press, Mayfield’s touchdown pass to Demetrius Harris in the second quarter ended a 71-0 scoring streak by the Patriots. New England scored the final 21 points in their win over the Giants on Oct. 10 and then shut out the Jets 33-0 last week.
The Patriots have now won 21 straight games against first-or second-year quarterbacks , the longest such streak in NFL history.
The Patriots travel to Baltimore for an 8pm matchup with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on Sunday Night Football
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC