Tom Brady made his long-awaited return for the New England Patriots and it didn’t take him long to unload on an opposing NFL team. That NFL team just happened to be the Cleveland Browns. Brady led three straight touchdown-scoring drives to start the game for New England, en route to a 33-13 win over the Browns. Cleveland now drops to 0-5 on the year.
As we’ve said many times, winning games isn’t particularly important for Cleveland this year: it’s about the development of younger players. That is why it was so depressing to see QB Cody Kessler have to leave the game early with a shoulder injury. His replacement, QB Charlie Whitehurst, is a veteran who isn’t anywhere on the same level as a veteran like QB Josh McCown. So, not only can you not be excited about his future, he doesn’t help showcase the young players around him.
When the Patriots jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 1-yard run by RB LeGarrette Blount, Kessler led a touchdown-scoring drive for Cleveland, capping it off with an 11-yard toss to WR Andrew Hawkins to tie the game at 7-7 mid-way through the first.
New England quickly responded with a 7-yard touchdown pass to TE Martellus Bennett to go up 14-7. Kessler took over the next series backed up in his own territory, and when ILB Dont’a Hightower immediately came free on a pass play, Kessler turned and threw a backward pass out of the end zone that went for a safety. Kessler was hurt on the play after Hightower planted his shoulder into the ground, and New England went up 16-7.
A 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Bennett made it a 23-7 game. The Patriots had two more scoring opportunities before the end of the half. Cleveland stuffed Blount at the goal line for a turnover on downs and K Stephen Gostkowski missed a 50-yard field goal, though.
To start the third quarter, New England extended the drive with two holding calls on ILB Christian Kirksey. SS Ibraheim Campbell guessed wrong on a playaction pass, and Bennett caught a wide open pass for 37 yards and the touchdown to give New England a 30-7 lead.
Cleveland finally moved the ball a little bit with Whitehurst on their next drive, but RB Duke Johnson had a pass go off his hands and into the hands of safety Patrick Chung for an interception.
After a bit of back-and-forth, Cleveland did have some excitement in the fourth quarter. Whitehurst pushed the ball downfield and eventually got a 17-yard touchdown pass to TE Connor Hamlett. The two-point attempt was no good, making it a 30-13 game. A 31-yard field goal by New England made it a 33-13 game mid-way through the fourth.
Whitehurst appeared to hurt his knee before the end of the game, so that meant WR Terrelle Pryor had to play quarterback out of necessity. Fortunately, he didn’t get injured too.
Making the day worse, the Indians’ playoff game in Boston was postponed. Cleveland has their most winnable game of the season next week in Tennessee, but who in the world is going to play quarterback? Kevin Hogan?
- QB Cody Kessler: 5-of-8 for 62 yards, 1 TD.
- QB Charlie Whitehurst: 14-of-24 for 182 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
- WR Terrelle Pryor: 1-of-3 for 5 yards. 2 carries, 3 yards. 5 catches, 48 yards.
- RB Isaiah Crowell: 13 carries, 22 yards (1.69 YPC).
- RB Duke Johnson: 4 carries, 1 yard (0.25 YPC).
- QB Tom Brady: 28-of-40 for 406 yards, 3 TD.
- ILB Christian Kirksey led the Browns with 16 tackles.
- DE Jamie Meder had the Browns' only sack.
- The Philadelphia Eagles did lose for the first time today, which helps Cleveland’s draft position.