The New England Patriots took no prisoners in Week 10 against the Cleveland Browns. After giving up an early touchdown drive to their opponent, they scored 45 unanswered points to blow out a team coming into the game with a 5-4 record.
Given the quality of the opposition it was arguably the most complete performance of any Patriots squad since Tom Brady’s departure following the 2019 season. So with that said, let’s dig into the many winners and sole loser of the team’s 45-7 beatdown.
Winner: QB Mac Jones
Mac Jones continues to show why the Patriots felt confident handing him the keys to the offense despite his status as a rookie. The 15th overall selection in this year’s draft was almost flawless against a Browns defense ranked among the best in the league: he completed 19 of 23 pass attempts for 198 yards and three touchdowns before making way for backup Brian Hoyer late in the game.
Jones took what the defense offered, but he was also not afraid to thread the needle. His 26-yard over-the-shoulder pass to Jakobi Meyers on third down and his touchdown to Kendrick Bourne two plays later were prime examples of that — and two of the best throws of his young career.
Winner: RB Rhamondre Stevenson
Without Damien Harris, the Patriots had to rely on another rookie to carry the load in the running game. Rhamondre Stevenson answered the call, and delivered the best game of his career. Not only was he again called upon as a pass catcher — finishing with four receptions for 14 yards — he was the workhorse back New England was missing with Harris sidelined.
Playing 37 offensive snaps, he carried the football 20 times for exactly 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The offensive line helped him put up those numbers, but Stevenson himself also found positive yards when none appeared to be there. Look no further than his hard running early on New England’s 99-yard touchdown drive.
Winner: LB Ja’Whaun Bentley & LB Kyle Van Noy
Nick Chubb’s Covid-19 diagnosis was a blow to the Browns’ running game, but the team’s impressive offensive line was still intact heading into the game. Nonetheless, New England’s linebacker group had a tremendous outing against the unit. Sure, D’Ernest Johnson finished with 99 yards on 19 carries for a healthy 5.2-yard average, but a lot of his runs were non-consequential.
Ja’Whaun Bentley and Kyle Van Noy in particular stood out. The former had a tackle for loss on third down and continues to play some impressive football coming off a disappointing 2020 campaign; the latter forced a fumble and also registered a sack. A good day for both.
Winner: Offensive Line
The Patriots shuffled their offensive line a bit, using a rotation at right tackle with Trent Brown starting and Michael Onwenu taking the field in select situations. Regardless who was on the field, though, the unit was outstanding: New England rushed for a season-high 186 yards and two touchdowns on 32 non-kneel-down carries, while Mac Jones was sacked only twice.
The days of New England’s offensive line struggling seem to be behind the unit, with one player in particular deserving a shout-out: left tackle Isaiah Wynn was not perfect, but he certainly held his ground against NFL sack leader Myles Garrett.
Loser: PR Jakobi Meyers
With Gunner Olszewski out due to a concussion sustained the previous week, the Patriots turned to Jakobi Meyers as their punt returner. He ended the game with one fair catch, while allowing three other punts to hit the ground and either roll out of bounds or be fielded by the Browns.
Meyers did not make any gross mistakes, but him not at least fair-catching some of those kicks allowed Cleveland to gain some cheap additional yardage.
That all said...
Winner: WR Jakobi Meyers & WR Kendrick Bourne
Jakobi Meyers has finally gotten off the schneid. Career reception No. 135 was the first that saw him find the end zone for a touchdown. The third-year receiver took a short pass from Brian Hoyer in the fourth quarter, broke a tackle, and took the ball in for an 11-yard score. Afterwards seemingly the entire New England bench came over to congratulate him. Talk about a monkey coming off his back.
As for Kendrick Bourne, he was a chain-mover for the Patriots on Sunday. Finishing the game with four catches, he gained a game-high 98 yards and moved the sticks on all of them. His best reception of the day came in the second quarter, when he capped off New England’s 99-yard rally with a spectacular 23-yard catch in between two defenders. Bourne furthermore gained 43 yards on three handoffs to finish with 141 yards from scrimmage.
Winner: TE Hunter Henry
By now, Hunter Henry appears to have established himself as one of the most reliable red zone targets in the league. Adding two more touchdowns to bring his total to seven on the season — all of them from within the 20-yard line — the first-year Patriot continues to show a tremendous connection with Mac Jones.
On the day, Henry had four catches for 38 yards. He also helped New England assert its will in the running game.
Winner: S Kyle Dugger
The Patriots’ second-year safety made arguably the biggest defensive play of the day. With the game tied at 7-7 in the early second quarter, he intercepted Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and returned the pick 37 yards to the Cleveland 5-yard line. One play later, Rhamondre Stevenson found the end zone to put the team up 14-7.
New England never looked back, and Dugger’s interception turned out to be one of the crucial plays of the day. He also added six tackles on defense and two more in the kicking game.