By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Some of the "ups" and "downs" for the Patriots in a 27-13 win over the Browns on Sunday.
-- WR Julian Edelman. Another Herculean effort from Edelman on a day where Brady wasn't getting much from any other pass-catchers. Eight catches for 78 yards and, most importantly, two touchdowns. The second score came on a bit of a schoolyard play where Brady found him open after escaping pressure. The TD kept momentum on the Patriots' side after the Browns had cut the Pats' lead to just seven points.
-- RB James White. White came up with the biggest play of the game in terms of both yardage and impact. Facing third-and-10 from the Patriots' 16-yard line, White caught a screen pass from Tom Brady and took it 59 yards as he serpentined his way through the third level. The play helped set up Edelman's second TD. A nice block by Joe Thuney on Browns linebacker Joe Schobert helped spring White for the massive gain. Brady can still occasionally go to White on gotta-have-it plays, and he showed it in that moment.
-- CB Jonathan Jones. It looked like Nick Chubb was about to toast the Patriots for a 60-yard touchdown, but Jones wasn't having it. Even after getting knocked down, the speedy Jones popped back up and chased Chubb down to around the 24-yard line and chopped the ball loose. The Patriots recovered the fumble to not only save the touchdown but get the ball back, thanks to Jones' incredible hustle.
-- DB Justin Bethel. The special teams dynamo made his presence felt when he forced a muffed punt against the Browns' Dontrell Hilliard. The Browns were able to fall on the football, but that was a loud first glimpse at what Bethel can bring to any special teams unit. Him and Matthew Slater together might not be fair.
-- DT Adam Butler. A very disruptive afternoon for the third-year DT out of Vanderbilt. Butler racked up two sacks, three QB hits, and four total tackles - two for losses of yardage.
-- LT Marshall Newhouse. Newhouse allowed at least two sacks to Tom Brady as the pressure off the left was an issue for much of the day for the Patriots offense. The Pats are still involved in trade rumors for offensive linemen for a reason. Even if Isaiah Wynn comes back and stays healthy, the Patriots could use an upgrade over Newhouse even for a swing tackle.
-- LB Dont'a Hightower. It's not totally Hightower's fault that he had to cover a tight end one-on-one, because that's not his strength. But Hightower got burned on Demetrius Harris' score, and also missed a tackle on Nick Chubb on his 44-yard gain that would've been a touchdown if Jones didn't save Hightower's bacon. His scoop of a loose ball that he took to the end zone was a good heads-up play, but the real MVP on the first Chubb fumble was Joel Bitonio's cleat.
-- S Devin McCourty. You could lump all of the Patriots' safeties in here. The defense had a few more breakdowns in coverage than we're used to seeing, and that involved letting the Browns get into favorable matchups down the field. No safety covered Demetrius Harris on his touchdown, leaving him one-on-one against Dont'a Hightower. Miscues on the back end contributed to the "best" performance we've seen so far against the defense.
-- P Jake Bailey. One of Bailey's punts went just 39 yards, and he also had a kickoff go out of bounds to help set up the Browns at the 40-yard line. An up-and-down day at best for the otherwise-excellent rookie punter.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].