Sunday’s loss to Cleveland was definitely a tough one, especially considering everything that went wrong in this one. However, here is the “best and worst” from New England’s 34-14 loss to the Browns.
Steven Gostkowski: Gostkowksi tried to do the right thing from the opening kickoff, trying to keep Josh Cribbs from making a play and pinning him in the corner, with the ball landing in his hands mere feet from the sideline. Unfortunately New England’s special teams unit didn’t take care of their end of the deal, letting him get outside and return it 36 yards to the 37. The Browns ended up with a field goal. Gostkowski later suffered a “thigh injury” somewhere around the time New England kicked their extra point after their lone touchdown early on, which hampered New England’s kicking game for the rest of the day. Wes Welker would be the one to kick the extra point after their second TD.
Devin McCourty: Had another good game, ending up with the strip on Peyton Hillis to force the fumble. Jerod Mayo was credited on the official stat sheet with the forced fumble, but replays showed that McCourty was in on the play and appeared to help force the fumble, with Brandon Meriweather recovering the football.
Shawn Crable: Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald reported that the hometown guy had 30 or so family members present Sunday, and Crable made his presence known early – pressuring rookie QB Colt McCoy for a throwaway late in the first quarter.
Aaron Hernandez: Hernandez made an incredible touchdown reception off of a deflection from Rob Gronkowksi. The rookie leaped fully extended into the air to grab the ball, and still had the presence of mind to keep both feet in the endzone as he came down for the touchdown. At the time his catch cut the lead to 10-7, which ended up being as close as the Patriots would get in this one.
Wes Welker: Is there anything Welker can’t do? After Gostkowski went down with a “thigh injury”, Welker kicked an extra point as well as a kickoff. On the kickoff Welker kicked the ball to the 25, with the Browns’ Josh Cribbs returning it out to the 40 yard line.
Logan Mankins: Did a solid job in his first game back with the team, and the Patriots enjoyed some success early on, running to his side and gaining positive yardage.
Brandon Spikes: Spikes had a tough game Sunday. He got pushed around quite a bit and struggled in coverage. The Browns had their way in the middle of the field, and unfortunately Spikes was part of the problem.
Rob Gronkwoski: Gronkowski will likely be doing everything he can to completely forget about this one. His woes started when he called for a fair catch on their first kickoff and let it go by him. Sammy Morris tried to recover it, but the Browns were able to recover and it lead to a touchdown. He also dropped the two passes thrown his way on New England’s opening drive. He also had a critical fumble down by the goal line at the end of the half, which ended a potential scoring drive by New England before halftime. The Patriots went from potentially closing the gap to within 17-14 to still being down 10 at the half. That may have been the turning point in the game.
Brandon Meriweather: Didn’t have a great afternoon, and got blown up on Colt McCoy’s touchdown run, after Peyton Hillis completely leveled him.
Jerod Mayo: Mayo played fairly well against the run, but really struggled in coverage on Sunday – getting beat on a critical 3rd and 3 by Hillis which lead to the knockout blow by the Browns when they scored their final touchdown of the day.
Julian Edelman: Edelman finally made a reception in the closing minutes of this game from Brian Hoyer, but had the ball ripped away for an interception for Cleveland.
Tom Brady: Unfortunately Brady has to be included in this list. He threw the ball high, low, at the shoestrings, and was extremely inconsistent. He was erratic at times through this one and wasn’t quite as sharp as he needed to be.
NOTES: Logan Mankins gets the start, and New England immediately ran to his side to start the game, picking up 3-yards on the play….Jarrad Page, who is still working his way back from a calf injury, was on Twitter during Sunday’s game, telling one fan “Hope to b back soon”… Today was the fourth time Patriots have been held scoreless in the first quarter. The last time, New England scored 28 points. The time before that, they scored 41. This time? They scored 14….Aaron Hernandez caught his first touchdown pass of his career today against Cleveland, and later caught another. Unfortunately it was in a losing effort.…Hernandez had another notable stat, with the rookie tight end having a reception for 20+ yards for the 7th time in 8 games….Christopher Price of WEEI pointed out that the Patriots have won just one of their last 18 road games (dating to ’97) when they trailed by 10 or more at the half. Their only win was back in 01… Tom Brady‘s 1st half touchdown pass was the 238th of his career, which moved him ahead of Jim Kelly into 17th place all-time in NFL history.