Despite allowing just its fourth touchdown of the season Sunday, the New England Patriots’ defense still played the lead role Sunday in a 27-13 win over the Cleveland Browns in Foxborough, Mass., staying undefeated and giving coach Bill Belichick his 300th career win.
Collecting turnovers on three consecutive plays in the first quarter, the Patriots (8-0) turned them into 14 points, giving them the cushion they lived off all game. New England’s offense wasn’t flashy while playing in a steady downpour, but did get 259 passing yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Tom Brady.
Cleveland (2-5) got 131 yards on 20 carries from running back Nick Chubb, but he lost fumbles on back-to-back snaps that helped the Patriots get off to a fast start. Quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 20 of 31 passes for 194 yards with a touchdown and an interception while taking five sacks.
Mike Nugent’s 20-yard field goal with 6:35 left in the first quarter got the Patriots on the board. Their defense made it 10-0 50 seconds later when linebacker Dont’a Hightower returned a Chubb fumble — forced free by the cleat of Cleveland offensive lineman Joel Bitonio — 26 yards, starting the Browns’ cavalcade of errors.
Chubb ripped off a 44-yard run on the first play after Hightower’s touchdown, but Jonathan Jones punched the ball out, and Devin McCourty pounced on it at the New England 4. On the first play of the Browns’ next possession, Mayfield tried a shovel pass that Lawrence Guy intercepted and returned to the Cleveland 11.
Two plays later, Brady cashed it in with the first of his two scoring strikes to Julian Edelman, an 8-yarder that upped the margin to 17-0 with 1:47 left in the quarter.
The Browns controlled most of the next quarter and a half. Mayfield found Demetrius Harris with a 21-yard touchdown toss with 7:44 left in the second quarter, and rookie kicker Austin Seibert converted from 38 yards at the 8:37 mark of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 17-10.
But Brady’s 14-yard scoring strike to Edelman less than 2 1/2 minutes later regained control for the Patriots. The teams swapped field goals in the final 7 1/2 minutes of the game.
It was New England’s 21st straight home win, including playoffs.
—Field Level Media