Ryan L. Fox
The quest for the perfect season continues on for the 2019 New England Patriots. Every team that they faced, they have obliterated and downright humiliated. Whether it be at home or the road, nobody has been able to notch a loss to the Pats. In Week 8, the Cleveland Browns traveled into Foxborough for their chance to knock off the undefeated Patriots.
In the torrential rain, the Pats and Browns squared off. It was wet, it was cold, it was ugly. Costly turnovers, missed field goals, and very questionable play calling. But when the final gun went off, only one team was able to claim victory. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t the Browns.
The Patriots got the ball to start off the game.
KR/RB Brandon Bolden got the ball at his own 6 before getting all the way up to the New England 30. The offense then came onto the field as they exploded with a 11-yard run to the New England 41 thanks to an 11-yard run by RB Sony Michel. But the Browns defense buckled down and forced the Patriots to punt.
The Browns got the ball at their own 20 but their offense was smothered by the Patriots defense. They were then forced to punt as the Patriots got the ball on their own 27.
The Patriots lead off with the run, advancing (and then getting forced back) to the New England 31. Facing a 3rd and 6 at the 31, QB Tom Brady found WR Phillip Dorsett down the left side line for a 33-yard pass to the Cleveland 36. The Patriots were able to move the ball own to the Cleveland 33 before facing a 4th and 7 there. Coach Bill Belichick elected to go for it as Brady found WR Julian Edelman for a 10-yard pass to the Cleveland 23. Michel then followed that up with a 16-yard run down to the Cleveland 7. The Patriots advanced the ball as far as the Cleveland 2 but had to settle for a field goal. K Mike Nugent booted the 20-yarder through the uprights to make it 3-0 with a little under 6 and a half minutes left in the quarter.
The Browns got the ensuing kickoff as KR/RB Dontrell Hilliard brought the ball to the Cleveland 20. After a quick pass from QB Baker Mayfield to WR Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland 23, it brought up 2nd and 7. RB Nick Chubb took the handoff and went right side. Unfortunately, Chubb could not get a hold of the ball as it slipped out of his hands and into the hands of Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower at the Cleveland 26. Hightower ran the ball back all the way for the game’s first touchdown. Nugent booted the extra point through as the Patriots lead grew to 10-0 with 5:45 left in the quarter.
But on the ensuing kickoff, P Jake Bailey kickoff went out of bounds to draw a penalty. The Browns got to start their 2nd possession of the game at their own 40. On the first play from scrimmage, Chubb took the hand off and found a giant hole in the right side. He then proceeded to breakout and run down the field in what looked like to be a long touchdown run. But coming out of nowhere was CB Johnathan Jones as he knocked the ball out of Chubbs hands and onto the ground. FS Devin McCourty was able to scoop up the live ball at the New England 4 for his team’s 2nd fumble recovery of the game.
However, the Patriots were forced to punt on their ensuing possession as Hilliard returned the football to the Cleveland 31. However, there was a penalty on the play (illegal block above the waist) that pushed the ball back to the Cleveland 21. But on the first play from scrimmage, Mayfield tried to do a small shovel pass to WR Jarvis Landry. Instead DT Lawrence Guy picked the ball and returned it to the Cleveland 11.
From there, it took only two plays and less than a minute for the Patriots to score. Brady found Edelman over the middle for an 8-yard touchdown pass as Nugent booted the PAT through to make it 17-0 with a little under 2 minutes left in the quarter.
The two teams then proceeded to exchange punts with one another as the 1st quarter switched over to the 2nd quarter.
The Browns got the ball back on their own 46 with 11:12 left in the quarter. Mayfield was able to lead the offense down the field, being able to control the clock and the tempo. Mixed in with some strong runs by Chubb, the Browns were able to get all the way down to the New England 21. Then on 2nd and 9, Mayfield found TE Demetrius Harris over the left sideline for the touchdown. K Austin Seibert booted the PAT through as the Browns cut into the Patriots lead, 17-7.
The Patriots got the ball back on their own 25 as Brady and the offense came out onto the field. The offense had some sputtering moments in the early goings, but then woke up in a big way thanks to a 23-yard pass from Brady to Edelman on 1st and 10 from the New England 42 down to the Cleveland 35. The Patriots got all the way down to the Cleveland 24 as they were faced with a 4th and 4 from there. Again, the Patriots went for it as Brad found newly acquired WR Mohammed Sanu for the 1st down at the Cleveland 20.
The Patriots got as far as the Cleveland 11 before being forced to settle for a 29-yard field goal attempt by Nugent. However, Browns CB Denzel Ward beat his man around the edge to block the kick as the Browns got the ball back at their own 16
The Browns tried to get within a score before the end of the half. However, they could only get to their own 33 as time expired and both teams went into their locker rooms for halftime.
The Browns opened up the 2nd half as they started on their own 25. Mayfield opened up the drive with a 21-yard pass to WR Jarvis Landry to the Cleveland 46. Then on the next 5 plays, Chubb was focus of the offense as he got the Browns down to the New England 29. Two plays later, Chubb broke off another big run down to the New England 17. The Browns got as far as the New England 11 before Mayfield then got sacked at the New England 20 on 3rd down. The Browns ended up settling for a 38-yard field goal by Seibert to make it 17-10 with a little over 8 and a half minutes left in the quarter.
The Patriots got the ball back for their first possession of the 2nd half as Bolden brought the kick to the New England 16. For a moment, it looked like momentum was starting to shift to the Browns as they forced Brady to throw 2 straight incomplete passes. But then on 3rd and 10, Brady dumped a quick screen pass to RB James White. White ended up taking the pass past the 1st down mark before rumbling and nearly outrunning the entire Browns defense before getting tackled at the Cleveland 25 for a 59-yard catch and run pass.
Brady got the Patriots offense down to the Cleveland 16 before getting faced with a 3rd and 1. He then found Edelman over the right side for a 14-yard touchdown pass, the 2nd one of the game for the duo. Nugent booted the PAT through as the Patriots lead grew to 24-10 with 6:11 left in the quarter.
The two teams then traded punts with one another for the remainder of the 3rd quarter and into the beginning of the 4th quarter.
The Patriots then got the ball on their own 27 as Brady again led the offense down the field. This also included finding Sanu for a 19-yard pass to the New England 49 on 2nd and 3 from the New England 30. After dinking and dunking down the field, the Patriots were faced with a 2nd and 9 at the Cleveland 38. Brady then found TE Benjamin Watson for a 26-yard pass down to the Cleveland 12. However, the Browns defense held tight, forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal. Nugent booted the 29-yard field goal through the uprights as the Patriots lead grew to 27-10. With 7:43 left in the game.
The Browns got the ball back on their own 25 as the game was slipping away. However, every time they tried to move the ball, they were hit with a costly penalty that drove them back. But then on 4th and 16 on the Cleveland 19, Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens decided to go for it on. Like in typical Browns fashion, it blew up as Mayfield ended up getting back at his own 14.
The Patriots got the ball back on the Cleveland 14, looking to get an easy 7-points. However, Brady ended up getting sacked back at the Cleveland 21 on 1st and 10. Rather than risk another pass, the Patriots went conservative as they rushed twice to the Cleveland 16. On 4th and long, the Patriots elected to go for the field goal as Nugent trotted out to attempt a 34-yard field goal. Nugent hooked the ball wide left as the score remained 27-10.
The Browns got the ball back on their own 24 with a little over 4 minutes left in the game. After a 1st down incompletion, Mayfield found Landry for a 12-yard pass to the Cleveland 36. He then followed it up with a 31-yard bomb to WR Odell Beckham Jr. down to the New England 31. After a sack on 1st down, Mayfield scrambled 18 yards down to the New England 24. Facing a 3rd and short, Mayfield’s pass to Landry went incomplete to set up 4th and 1. But in typical Browns fashion, they were hit with a false start penalty that backed them up to the New England 29. This time around, Kitchens elected to kick a field goal as Seibert’s 47-yard attempt was good to make it 27-13 with a little over 2 and a half minutes left in the game.
After forcing the Patriots to punt, the Browns got the ball back at their own 20 with a little over a minute left in the game. A pass interference call on Patriots FS Devin McCourty put the ball on their own 37 with 59 seconds left in the game. But then Mayfield was sacked back at his own 27 as the clock ticked down. The Browns last play of the game was just a handoff to Hilliard, who got 10-yards and up to the Cleveland 37 as the clock then read 00:00.
The Patriots then began to celebrate and cheer as they pulled off their 8th victory of the season with their 27-13 win over the Browns. The victory also marked the 300th win in Belichick’s coaching career (combined regular and postseason), becoming only 1 of 3 NFL head coaches to ever reach that plateau.
As they finished the 1st half of the season, the team couldn’t help but look ahead towards the 2nd half of the season and the gauntlet of high-quality opponents that await them.
Patriot Statistical Standouts
QB Tom Brady: 20-for-36 for 259 yards and 2 TD for a QB Rating of 96.9
RB Sony Michel: 21 carries for 74 yards (3.5 yards per carry)
RB James White: 2 carries for 4 yards (2.0 yards per carry), 4 catches (on 5 targets) for 75 yards
WR Julian Edelman: 1 carries for -3 yards (-3.0 yards per carry), 8 catches (on 11 targets) for 78 yards and 2 TD
LB Jamie Collins: 11 tackles (11 solo, 0 assists), 1.5 sacks
DT Lawrence Guy: 4 tackles (3 solo, 1 assist), 1 INT
DT Adam Butler: 1 tackle (1 solo, 0 assists), 2.0 sacks
CB Johnathan Jones: 7 tackles (4 solo, 3 assists), 1 forced fumble
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
29 – The number of wins that Tom Brady at home versus opposing quarterbacks 24 years or younger (29-0)
13 – The number of touchdown passes by Tom Brady, the most all-time by a player 42 years or older
300 – The career wins (both regular season and playoffs) for head coach Bill Belichick for 3rd most all-time (Don Shula, 347; George Halas, 324)
.878– The winning percentage of the Patriots at home during the Belichick coaching era (36-5)
.889- Tom Brady’s winning percentage at home during the month of October (32-4)
1– The number of penalties committed by the Patriots in the 2nd half (4 for the entire game)
11 – The number of solo tackles by LB Jamie Collins for the entire game, the most solo tackles in his career as a Patriots (got 13 solo tackles in one game with the Browns in 2016)
6.0 – The number of sacks by Collins, a new career high for him
133 – The total amount of rushing yards by Browns RB Nick Chubb, the most rushing yards allowed to a single back this season by the Patriots and the first 125+ yards rusher allowed since LA Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (132 rushing yards) back on October 29, 2017 (Patriots won that game 21-13)
2,521 – The career receiving yards by RB James White, putting him 2nd all-time in franchise history among running backs (Kevin Faulk, 3,701)
Interesting Tidbit of the Game
We all talk about how great of a coach Bill Belichick is. But many people (mostly New England fans who rooted for the team since 2001), don’t remember that Bill got his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns back in 1991.
In a twist of fate, Bill got his first victory ever against the…New England Patriots back on September 8, 1991. It was a 20-0 shutout victory for the Browns. QB Bernie Kosar threw for 2TD passes while the defense held the Patriots to a total of 143 yards for the game while forcing 4 turnovers and getting 4 sacks.
Bill’s tenure with the Browns ultimately came to a halt after the 1995 season (all due to Art Modell’s backstabbing and greed) but still, you have to start somewhere. Still, who would have guessed that Bill’s first victory came against the team he would build a dynasty that would be unmatched in any professional sports.
Fox Fist Bump
The Fox Fist Bump goes to none other than LB Jamie Collins.
A career high 11 solo tackles for the game, plus 1.5 sacks, and multiple QB pressures. This guy has been on a tear and been playing big whenever the team needs him to. If the season ended right now, there’s no doubt that Collins would be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year and could even steal a few votes for MVP as well.
The Meatball of the Week
The Meatball of the Week is none other than Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens. The Browns looked overwhelmed and undisciplined at times (13 penalties). Plus, what the hell was he thinking about going for it on 4th and 16 from his own 19.
I’ll admit, I thought the Browns had a chance to pull the upset or at least put up a better showing given how much talent they got on offense. Instead, they should why they were the Browns and just how out coached dopey Kitchens was against Belichick.
Play(s) of the Game
Browns Being Browns
Bonus Patriots Treat
Did you know that Bill Belichick makes a mean PBJ? Well...now you know.
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