Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control. Tom Landry
The Patriots were glad to see their leader, QB Tom Brady return and so were his receivers. Brady put to rest any talk of his being rusty with a razor-sharp performance as he passed for over 400 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots blew out the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon in Cleveland.
Brady came out on fire and moved the Patriots to three quick scores in their first three drives with surgical precision. Each drive encompassed 8 plays and each resulted in a Patriots touchdown. Brady finished the day 28-40 for 406 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions on the day.
Does anyone still believe that they’re “actively shopping Gronk” after today? The big man is getting healthier and had a typical Gronk day with 5 catches for 109 yards. His tight end partner Martellus Bennett had 6 catches for 67 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Hogan caught 4 passes for 114 yards.
Sunday’s win was the eighth time in Brady’s career that he’s passed for 400 or more yards. It was also a milestone for Bill Belichick as he passed Curly Lambeau for all-time in the NFL. It was his 250th win including the playoffs.
He started out on the team’s first four drives completing 14 of 16 for 248 yards and two touchdowns. His only miss was to James White, the other incompletion being a dropped pass by Julian Edelman. After hitting Hogan on a perfectly thrown 63-yard bomb over Joe Haden down the right sideline, the Pats were in position to score their fourth touchdown of the half. But the Browns defense stiffened and stuffed LeGarrette Blount twice on third and fourth downs at the one-yard line.
Bennett had a career day, the first time he’s ever scored three touchdowns in a game. It just happened to be his first with Tom Brady at the helm. His first score was probably the easiest touchdown he’ll ever get. Brady looked off Hogan at the back of the end zone and Bennett who stayed in to block drifted out in the right flat. Brady hit him and he was all alone and strutted in from the seven-yard line for a too easy score.
His second score came on a third down and goal from the five-yard line. Bennett ran a crossing route with tight coverage but Brady’s pass was on the money and he was able to haul it in for the touchdown. His third was a beauty. On a first and ten on the opening drive of the third quarter, Brady moved the team 75 yards on another eight play drive. Brady rolled to his right and found Bennett wide open down the right sideline for a 37-yard touchdown.
Brady got everyone involved in the passing game. Edelman and Amendola weren’t the big targets on the day but chipped in with 5 catches for 37 yards and 2 receptions for 11 yards respectively. Rookie Malcolm Mitchell chipped in with two catches and James White out of the backfield had four catches for 63 yards including a nice 36 catch and run down the left sideline where Edelman blocked two Browns out of the play.
The Patriots defense made their priority in shutting down the #1 rushing attack of the Browns and Isaiah Crowell as well as Terrelle Pryor today. And they accomplished both of them with a great team effort on defense. The Browns came into today averaging 149 yards rushing and the Pats held them to 27 yards total. Crowell gained just 22 yards on 13 carries as the front four, especially Malcom Brown and Alan Branch were tremendous inside, allowing no push by the Browns offensive line. Brown, the second-year tackle from Texas added a pair of sacks on the day. Pat Chung added an interception.
With the running attack stalled Cleveland tried hitting Pryor, their best weapon in the passing game. But by bracketing him, he was frequently taken out of the play. He ended up with just five catches for 48 yards and was never a factor. The Browns did put together one nice drive with Cody Kessler leading the offense 70 yards in nine plays for a score when he hit Andrew Hawkins for an 11-yard touchdown. Hawkins beat rookie Cyrus Jones’ jam off the line and worked easily for the score in the back corner of the end zone. That tied the score at seven and would essentially be it for the Browns offense until the game was out of hand.
Jones had another rough day. After getting beat for the touchdown he was ejected for throwing a punch during a play on the opposite side of the field. That won’t win many points with Bill Belichick.
But on their third drive, pinned deep after stopping Blount at the one, Cleveland was hit with a safety. Kessler dropped back to pass and was pile driven to the ground by Dont’a Hightower just as he released a pass. It was a backward lateral to Duke Johnson and the ball rolled out of the end zone. That ended the day for Kessler. He was replaced by Charlie Whitehurst and Pryor at QB.
Whitehurst led a scoring drive early in the fourth quarter but the two-point conversion was no good and the Browns were still down three scores. Stephen Gostkowski who missed a 50-yard FG in the first half, added a 31-yarder after that to round out the scoring.
This was a very encouraging win for the Patriots despite beating the now 0-5 Browns. No one was sure how Brady would play in his first game after his league imposed vacation to Italy for the first month of the season. But he calmed any worries anyone could have. The offense as it is presently constructed seems like a deadly mix. If there was one downer today, it was they weren’t able to run the ball in the closer mode today. But the two-tight ends are going to be nightmarish for defensive coordinators.
With the win, the Patriots improve to 4-1 and lead the division. The Bills beat LA and improved to 3-2 while Miami and the Jets both lost dropping to 1-4. The Patriots return to Gillette Stadium next Sunday afternoon to take on the Cincinnati Bengals who lost today 28-14 to Dallas.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season Bill Belichick Chris Hogan Cleveland Browns Cody Kessler Danny Amendola Dont'a Hightower Isaiah Crowell Jabaal Sheard Jimmy Garoppolo Joe Haden Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler New England Patriots Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Gronkowski Rob Ninkovich Terrelle Pryor Tom Brady Trey Flowers