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Browns vs. Patriots Final Score: Early turnovers kill Cleveland in 27-13 loss

The Browns turned the ball over on three straight offensive plays in the first quarter.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns lost to the New England Patriots 27-13, falling to 2-5 on the season. Despite coming off of a bye, it was the same-old story for Cleveland, with self-inflicted mistakes taking them out of the game.

For the first time this season, the Browns deferred to begin a game, as the rain was pouring from the sky in Foxborough. The defense forced an immediate three-and-out, but when Cleveland’s offense hit the field, they attempted three straight pass plays for their own three-and-out.

The Patriots’ offense found some traction on their second drive, keyed by a fourth down conversion where QB Tom Brady connected with WR Julian Edelman. Down at the goal line, Brady’s third down pass was almost picked off by CB Denzel Ward. The Patriots settled for a 20-yard field goal by K Mike Nugent to give them a 3-0 lead.

On the Browns’ second drive of the game, they decided to run the ball for the first time on 2nd-and-7. RB Nick Chubb got the carry, but somehow, LG Joel Bitonio went flying to the point where his foot literally kicked the ball out of Chubb’s hand. LB Dont’a Hightower scooped it up and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown to give New England a 10-0 lead.

On the Browns’ next drive, Nugent kicked it out of bounds, starting the drive at the 40 yard line. Chubb then broke a 43-yard run, but had the ball tomahawked out from behind for his second fumble on as many carries, and the Patriots recovered at the bottom of the pile.

Cleveland’s defense did force another relatively quick punt to get the ball back. You almost wish they wouldn’t have gotten it back, though. On the first play of the next drive, a shuffle pass to WR Jarvis Landry right at the snap was picked off by DE Lawrence Guy. It was Cleveland’s third offensive turnover in as many snaps.

A few plays later, Brady connected connected with Edelman for an 8-yard touchdown pass to go up 17-0.

Mid-way through the second quarter, the Browns finally found a groove on offense without penalties or turnovers getting in the way. It was a mix of running plays, short passes, and creative formations, before the drive was capped off with a 21-yard touchdown pass to TE Demetrius Harris, who beat Hightower to the outside.

The Patriots looked to respond with a drive that was filled with ticky tack penalties called on the Browns left and right that kept moving the chains. Just outside of two minutes, the Patriots had to line up for a 29-yard field goal, but CB Denzel Ward came around the edge and blocked it, giving Cleveland an opportunity to run a two-minute drive with one timeout in their pocket.

The Browns tried to muster a mini-drive, but didn’t have enough time after a sack stopped their momentum. All things considered, only being down 17-7 at the half was a positive, with Cleveland’s defense playing well and the offense getting the ball to begin the second half.

Cleveland opened the second half with a very solid drive, mostly led by more runs from Chubb. After getting into the red zone, Mayfield faced a 3rd-and-4, but faced pressure and ran into a sack by LB Jamie Collins. The 6:23-long drive ended with a successful 38-yard field goal by K Austin Seibert to cut the deficit to 17-10.

The Browns’ defense was fired up to start their next drive, forcing two incompletions — first from pressure by DE Olivier Vernon, and then with tight coverage from Ward. But on third down, the Patriots baited the rush from Cleveland and got RB James White for a big 59-yard screen pass. Several plays later, Brady again found Edelman for a touchdown — really, the first one the defense “gave up” all game — from 14 yards out to make it a 24-10 game.

On the Browns’ next drive, facing a 3rd-and-10, Mayfield delivered a nice back shoulder throw to Beckham, but the receiver was slow to turn around for it. It wasn’t a drop because it never hit his hands, but it basically counts as one because it’s as easy of a catch as he’ll get. The defense forced a punt after just a first down, thanks to a sack by Vernon.

In the fourth quarter, Cleveland’s last attempt at a rally was thrawrted by another penalty, this time an illegal pick (offensive pass interference) on WR Antonio Callaway. The Browns punted, and then New England made it a three-score game at 27-10 with a 29-yard field goal by Nugent with 7:43 left in the game.

WR Rashard Higgins managed to get into the game temporarily due to an injury to Landry. Higgins promptly caught an impressive deep ball down field, but of course, it was called off due to an atrocious offensive pass interference penalty. Then, this ensued:

Cleveland didn’t convert the fourth down, and the Patriots went three-and-out to try a 34-yard field goal, which was wide left with 4:07 to play. Cleveland got in range for a 47-yard field goal, which Seibert drilled, to make it a 27-13 game with 2:33 to go. The Browns actually had a decent onside attempt by P Jamie Gillan, but ultimately it went out of bounds. The Patriots ran out the clock on three plays and punted, giving Cleveland the ball back with about a minute to go, but it made no difference.

Quick Hitters

  • QB Baker Mayfield: 20-of-31 for 194 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. 1 rush, 18 yards.
  • RB Nick Chubb: 20 carries, 131 yards. 2 fumbles lost.
  • WR Odell Beckham: 5 catches, 52 yards (7 targets).
  • WR Jarvis Landry: 5 catches, 65 yards (10 targets).
  • 3 sacks by the defense, 1 blocked field goal