The New England Patriots remain undefeated eight weeks into the regular season, thanks to a hard-fought victory over the visiting Cleveland Browns. The home team adapted best to the rainy conditions in Foxborough early on, and jumped to a quick 17-0 lead behind an opportunistic defense and an offense that took advantage of the Browns’ miscues. While the visitors came closer later in the game, the Patriots ultimately made the plays when they had to and won by two touchdowns.
With that being said, let’s recap the action.
Patriots (8-0) 27 : 13 Browns (2-5)
New England lost the coin toss and received the opening kickoff, starting at the 30-yard line after a solid return by Brandon Bolden. The first play from scrimmage also netted positive yardage — 11 yards on a Sony Michel run — but the opening series stalled after a short rushing attempt and two incomplete passes. The Patriots had to punt, and send their top-ranked defense onto the field for the first time.
The team’s defense, meanwhile, opened the game well by forcing a quick three-and-out against Baker Mayfield and company. New England’s offense also got into a rhythm after the punt, with Tom Brady and Phillip Dorsett connecting on a massive 33-yard pass to move the team into Cleveland territory. The series again came close to stalling, but Brady and Julian Edelman connected to convert a 4th and 7. Ultimately, the team had to settle for a 20-yard Mike Nugent field goal. [Patriots 3 : 0 Browns]
Just two plays into Cleveland’s next series, the Patriots increased their lead: Browns running back Nick Chubb fumbled the football on his first carry of the day, and Dont’a Hightower scooped it up and returned it for the game’s first touchdown. [Patriots 10 : 0 Browns]
The ensuing kickoff, as always since Stephen Gostkowski’s season-ending injury handled by Jake Bailey, sailed out of bounds and allowed Cleveland to set up shop at its own 40-yard line. The team almost took advantage of the good field position, with Chubb getting into the secondary on the very next play and gaining 48 yards. However, he lost the football again with Jonathan Jones forcing a fumble that was recovered by Devin McCourty at the Patriots’ 4-yard line.
New England’s offense, on the other hand, again was unable to get much going and after five plays had to send the punting unit onto the field once more. However, the “Boogeymen” came through again on the very next play — forcing their third turnover in as many plays: Lawrence Guy jumped in front of a shovel pass to pick off Baker Mayfield before returning the football to the Browns’ 5-yard line.
Two plays after the interception, the Patriots were on the score board yet again: Tom Brady connected with Julian Edelman on a short pass, and the reigning Super Bowl MVP took the football into the end zone for an 8-yard score. [Patriots 17 : 0 Browns]
The Browns replied to the Patriots’ touchdowns by again going nowhere on offense, punting the football right back to Cleveland. This time, the visitors were able to take advantage of good field position and drove the football 54 yards in six plays to cut into their deficit: Mayfield hit Demetrius Harris on a 21-yard pass with Hightower in coverage, to put the Browns on the board. [Patriots 17 : 7 Browns]
New England answered the Browns’ touchdown with one of its better drives of the day: the team went 49 yards in 13 plays, sending the field goal unit onto the field on the series’ final play. The 29-yard attempt was blocked by Cleveland’s Denzel Ward, however, who rushed around the edge to get into the backfield and force a turnover on downs. The Browns, however, were unable to take advantage of Ward’s block before the half.
Cleveland received the second-half kickoff and marched right down the field behind some strong running from Chubb. The drive ultimately stalled in the red zone thanks to a Jamie Collins Sr. sack on third down, but the team still made the game a one-score contest due to a 38-yard field goal. [Patriots 17 : 10 Browns]
With momentum shifting towards the Browns after their field goal drive to open the third quarter, the Patriots responded with an impressive 84-yard series of their own that added to their lead. A 59-yard screen pass from Brady to James White — on 3rd and 10 nonetheless — was the biggest play, and helped the home team quickly reach Cleveland’s red zone. The drive ultimately ended with Edelman catching his second touchdown of the day. [Patriots 24 : 10 Browns]
Neither the Browns nor the Patriots got much going for the rest of the third quarter, with the teams exchanging punts before heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter started with Cleveland in possession of the football, but the team failed to get much going against the Patriots’ defense and had to kick the football away once again. New England, meanwhile, produced another solid drive that included a 19-yard reception from new Patriot Mohamed Sanu and ended with a 29-yard field goal. [Patriots 27 : 10 Browns]
Down 17 points midway through the fourth quarter, the Browns decided to be more aggressive and went for it on a 4th and 16. The decision did not pay off, however, as Baker Mayfield got sacked by Adam Butler and Chase Winovich to give the Patriots the football in prime field position. New England failed to do anything with the opportunity, and after a sack and two short runs decided to attempt a field goal that sailed wide to the left.
Cleveland, meanwhile, was more successful on the attempt that followed its next possession which cut New England’s lead to 14 points. [Patriots 27 : 13 Browns]
In the end, the Browns’ field goal proved to be too little too late: the Patriots recovered the ensuing onside kick, and were able to run the clock down to 1:12 before punting the football away again. Out of timeouts, Cleveland failed to add anything and had to watch the clock run down and New England improve to 8-0.