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Patriots run defense shows up in major way against Cleveland’s top-ranked rushing attack

Related: Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton has big day against Browns despite ‘battling personal things’

NFL: OCT 16 Patriots at Browns Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns entered Week 6 leading the league by averaging 192.4 rushing yards per game. With perhaps the most dynamic running back duo in the league in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to pair with a top tier offensive line, the Patriots knew they’d have their hands full.

Their defense was up to the task, however. New England slowed down the Browns’ rushing attack while allowing the own offense to build a lead, forcing the Browns to move away from the ground game in the second half.

The result was just 18 total carries for 70 rushing yards, the lowest production from Cleveland on the ground this season.

“All week our goal was to stop the run and cut to the passer. I believe today we did that,” defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. said postgame. “We were just playing and our number one goal was to stop Chubb. To hear [we kept them to 70 yards], that is very exciting. I believe we came out there and we met our goal of stopping the runs and then cutting to the passer. When it was time to pass-rush, we would get after them.”

New England used more bigger defensive groupings in order to slow down the Browns’ ground game. The bigger package included more three safety looks out of their base 3-4 defense. While their work won't appear on the stat sheet, players like Matthew Judon were key in the process by consistently setting hard edges and breaking into the Cleveland backfield.

“We tried to make them play left handed,” Judon explained. “We knew that they had three really good backs but really Chubb and Kareem were running it really well. We tried to just stop them and we put all of our eggs in one basket.”

After struggling to stop the run against Baltimore and Green Bay in back-to-back weeks, the Patriots’ run defense has taken a major step forward against two of the top-ranked rush offenses in the league the past two weeks. They are also doing so without one of their best run defenders in Lawerence Guy, while Christian Barmore also departed this week’s game early with a knee injury.

“Give the players credit. There’s no one guy that can stop them. That’s everybody doing their job,” Bill Belichick said. “Defeating blocks, tackling, pursuing the ball, just being disciplined and being sound because Chubb has very good vision. He finds openings. He hit us on a couple in the second half where he got through for a couple decent runs, but overall, to kind of halfway keep him in check was a great job by our defensive coaches.

“Not only the front seven, but we had a couple players in the secondary with tackle to keep those seven or eight yard runs from going to 50, which he has plenty of those. So it’s a good job by them.”