It was yet another statement win for the New England Patriots on Sunday, as they beat the Cleveland Browns 45-7 at Gillette Stadium. They’ve now won four straight games.
Dominating nearly from start to finish, the Patriots’ defense held the Browns to just 217 yards and 3.7 yards per play. On the other side of the ball, the offense put up 45 points on the league’s third-ranked defense.
With the win, the Patriots’ record improves to 6-4. That pushes them closer to the upper-echelon of a tightly-packed AFC. Specifically, it gives them breathing space against a Browns team that is now 5-5.
Cleveland came out and pushed the Patriots right off the ball. They ran for 11.6 yards per carry on the first drive, forcing the ball up the middle. The Patriots nearly got a stop down near the goal line, but Baker Mayfield found Austin Hooper in the back of the end zone on fourth down for a touchdown, putting Cleveland up 7-0.
The Patriots responded with a march of their own, which lasted 15 plays, 9:39, and covered 83 yards. They picked up multiple long to-go situations by getting creative – an end around to Kendrick Bourne gained 15 yards on 1st & 20 after a hold, a screen to Brandon Bolden converted a 3rd & 13 in the red zone. Mac Jones capped the drive by finding Hunter Henry on an out route in the end zone, tying the game at 7-7 to close the first quarter.
Right away in the second quarter, the Patriots made the first big play of the game. Christian Barmore got pressure on Mayfield, forcing an early through which Kyle Dugger picked off and returned inside the 5-yard line. Rhamondre Stevenson, who didn’t practice all week due to a concussion, punched the ball in on the next play to put the Pats up 14-7.
Barmore continued giving Mayfield problems. The Browns’ next drive was derailed when Mayfield threw an errant pass on third down, again facing pressure up the middle. That led to Cleveland’s first punt of the day.
Jamie Gillan pinned the Patriots at the 1 yard line, but that didn’t end up mattering. Jones led yet another march, this time lasting 11 plays and taking 6:11 off the clock. The length of the drive wasn’t the most impressive part this time, but rather the way the drive ended. Bourne made a sensational contested hands catch in the end zone, winning the fight for the ball against two defenders to put the Patriots up 21-7.
After another Cleveland punt, the Patriots worked on the first half of a double score. Getting the ball with 3:48 left in the half, they took 3:31 off the clock. An Isaiah Wynn hands to the face penalty slowed things down as they got to the red zone, but Nick Folk connected from 38-yards out to give the Patriots a 24-7 lead heading into the half.
The second half began with the Patriots first punt of the afternoon, followed by another punt from the Browns. It turned out, the Pats needed just one drive to shake off the halftime rust, with their second drive of the half covering 92 yards on eight plays. Stevenson punched the ball in from the two yard line to end that one, and the Patriots were up 31-7.
Things didn’t get much better for the Browns after that. Baker Mayfield was hurt on the ensuing drive on a hit from Matthew Judon. With Case Keenum in the game, Cleveland went for a 4th & 19 conversion which resulted in a sack by Kyle Van Noy. Through three quarters, the Patriots still led 31-7.
Taking advantage of the short field, the Patriots moved the ball right back into the red zone. On 3rd & goal from the 2 yard line, Jones hit Henry again, making it Jones’ first career three-touchdown game, and giving the Patriots a 38-7 lead.
Cleveland took one garbage time drive into the red zone in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots managed a goal line stand capped by a Judon pressure on third down.
With Brian Hoyer in the game, the Patriots continued to add on. Hoyer led a six-play, 95-yard touchdown drive that included a beautiful sideline fade to N’Keal Harry, and then Jakobi Meyers’ first NFL touchdown that gave the Patriots a 45-7 lead.
Mac Jones finished with his first career three-touchdown game, throwing for 198 yards on 19-of-23 passing. Bourne proved to be his top target with four catches for 98 yards and the touchdown – he also had 43 rushing yards on three end arounds. Hunter Henry added two touchdowns on four catches for 37 yards, and Meyers’ day beyond his touchdown included four catches and 49 yards.
After not practicing all week, Rhamondre Stevenson led the Patriots on the ground, with his first 100-yard game and first two-touchdown game. He had 20 carries. Brandon Bolden was efficient, carrying the ball three times for 32 yards.
Defensively, Kyle Dugger led the team with seven tackles in addition to his interception. Deatrich Wise recorded 1.5 sacks, Kyle Van Noy and Tashawn Bower each had one, and Dont’a Hightower, Lawrence Guy, and Mattthew Judon had half a sack each.
Now the Patriots face a short turnaround, they’ll head to Atlanta later this week for a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Falcons. Pregame coverage for that one begins at 5:30 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub, with kickoff at 8:20.
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Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.