With the Browns licking their wounds from a defeat in an ultimately winnable game versus the Seahawks, they took their bye week to try and steady the ship for this trip to the Patriots. The opening day beat down from the Titans starting to weight heavy in the loss column, this trip to Foxborough, whilst not a “must-win” affair, had a lot of extra pressure added for the Browns, a loss here would surely place them in a situation where losing any more games in the nine remaining would be problematic for playoff hopes. On the other hand, the Patriots are currently free-rolling, the league’s best defense, coupled with one of the easiest schedules has led to a 7-0 start to their campaign and most recently they left Sam Darnold seeing ghosts on the field on their way to a 33-0 trouncing of the Jets. This would be a big ask for the Browns to go to Boston and take a win, but the pre-game mood was high.
Story of the Game
The game kicked off in monsoon like conditions and the weather did have a role in how it was played. The Browns stopped the Patriots on their initial possession and looked sure footed on defense. The Browns stuttered on offense early in the game, with the team electing to throw instead of running the ball initially. The Patriots got the scoring off to a start with a Mike Nugent field goal, again after good defensive play by the Browns. With the fans clambering for Chubb to get the ball, Baker Mayfield duly obliged, unfortunately, this ended in disaster for the Browns. A great block on Bitonio by Kyle Van Noy, kicked the left guard’s leg into the air, inadvertently knocking the ball out of Chubb’s hands, causing a fumble which was recovered and returned to the house for a TD by D’onta Hightower. Things were to get worse for Chubb before getting better, on his next play, at the end of a 44-yard run; he had the ball stripped from him by Jonathan Jones causing another turnover. This was a nightmare scenario for the former Georgia Bulldog, who has been known for his ball-handling skills over his college career and his rookie season in the NFL.
The Patriots, again, were kept at bay by the defense and punted the ball away. However, it wasn’t long before the turnover bug struck again. This time Baker and Landry combined to have a short pitch intercepted by Lawrence Guy. I’ve re-watched the play a few times, I still don’t know who is responsible, an absolutely absurd play, reminiscent of the Mark Sanchez “butt fumble”. A short TD throw from Brady to Edelman was the result leaving the score from a miserable first quarter for the Browns at 17-0. For the remainder of the half, the Browns looked more cohesive on offense and managed to put a few drives together, one ending in a 21 yard pass from Baker to Demetrius Harris for a TD, leaving the half time score T 17-7.
The Browns were well in this game at half time and a subsequent 38 yard field goal from Austin Siebert took the Browns to within a score of the Patriots. However, this was as good as it got for the Browns. Constant back breaking penalties killed the Browns on offense in the second half. This hampered the Browns possession after possession and ultimately strangled the life out of the game. Another Brady to Edelman TD and an exchange of field goals by Mike Nugent and Austin Seibert completed the scoring the second half for a final score of 27-13.
How the Game was Lost
Another week of regret, another week of turnovers and penalties. This game was lost by the Brown’s offense shooting themselves in the foot in the first quarter. A recovery from these turnovers never materialized. In the second half the penalties started to mount again, offsides, ineligible players downfield, etc. etc. etc. Through much of the game, the Patriots offense only had to play well within their limits, as a combination of Browns offensive errors and good Patriots defense ultimately won the day for the Patriots.
My Three Big Takeaways form the Game
1. This was a very frustrating loss, the Patriots for my money, were there for the taking, without the turnovers/penalties….this would have been a hell of a close game.
2. We did manage at points to establish the run game at points and control the line on both sides of the ball. Having Greedy and Denzel back was great. Lots of positives in the game itself.
3. It is NOW “gut check” time, we have to reel off win after win in the coming weeks or the season could be lost. The “easy schedule” argument being proffered since the start of the season is now here, we will soon be out of excuses.
Awards of the Day
– Stud of the day – Tom Brady
– Workman like performance of the day – Jamie Collins (uuuugh)
– Sneaky good player of day – Morgan Burnett
– Stat sheet hero of the day – Joe Schobert
– Player that stepped up their game today – Olivier Vernon
– Player waking up in bad humor today – Nick Chubb