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Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Colt McCoy threw for 174 yards on 14-of-19 passing and also turned in a rushing score as Cleveland posted an unexpected rout over New England, 34-14, at Browns Stadium.
Peyton Hillis ran for a career-best 184 yards and two scores on 29 carries for the Browns (3-5), who have won two in a row sandwiched around a bye week, and helped head coach Eric Mangini gain a measure of revenge against the team which employed him as a defensive coach from 2000-05.
"It's special. It's special because of my guys," Mangini said when asked if he held any special significance in beating one of his former teams. "It's a good group of guys who work hard."
Chansi Stuckey added an 11-yard TD rush and Phil Dawson kicked two field goals for Cleveland, which snapped a four-game losing streak to New England stretching back to November 12, 2000.
Tom Brady completed 19-of-36 passes for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Aaron Hernandez for the Patriots (6-2), who hadn't tasted defeat since a Week 2 loss on the road against the New York Jets.
Hernandez wound up with 48 yards on five receptions and Danny Woodhead was limited to 54 yards on nine carries for New England, which travels to Pittsburgh next Sunday night.
"Obviously they did everything better than we did, every single thing you could measure," noted Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "We've got a lot of work to do. Pick any subject you want we didn't do what we wanted to."
McCoy put the Browns ahead 24-7 with 5:53 to play in the third quarter, as his bolt for the left pylon from 16 yards out was upheld by a lengthy review.
The rookie signal-caller then orchestrated a 13-play, 61-yard march which bridged the third and fourth periods and ended on a 37-yard field goal from Dawson.
The visitors earned a reprieve on their next series, as a defensive pass interference call on a 4th-and-10 gave them possession at the Browns' one. Brady hit Hernandez two plays later, cutting the Patriots' deficit to 27-14 with 6:37 remaining.
However, Hillis broke to the outside and rolled into the end zone for a 35- yard score with 2:38 to play and the Browns extended their advantage to 34-14.
Brian Hoyer was under center for the Patriots' next drive but was picked off by Eric Wright on the second play of the series. Cleveland didn't advance the ball and a punt pinned New England in the shadow of its own goal line in the final seconds.
"The will to win is something we talked about a lot. First, you learn how to compete, then you learn how to win, and then you learn how to win consistently," Mangini said about his philosophy in trying to turn around the franchise. "So my expectations are that we continue to learn how to win consistently. That's important to keep in step as a team."
Cleveland's initial drive of the contest resulted in a Dawson 38-yard field goal, then after Pats returner Sammy Morris muffed the kickoff, the Browns were set up on the New England 19-yard line.
Evan Moore made a leaping catch at the right sideline for 17 yards on first down, then Hillis rumbled up the middle for a two-yard score and 10-0 advantage.
Hillis, though, coughed up the ball on the Browns' ensuing drive but the Pats failed to make any headway.
New England did pick up its first points of the day when Hernandez hauled in a tipped pass at the back of the end zone and got both feet in before falling out of bounds. It capped an 11-play, 79-yard drive with 8:43 left in the half.
Stuckey's 11-yard run to paydirt on the ensuing possession put the Browns up 17-7, and the Patriots fumbled away a chance at points in the final seconds of the half when tight end Rob Gronkowski had the ball stripped away near the goal line.
"We didn't play well. We had to take advantage of scoring opportunities, gotta convert on third down, and gotta hold on to the football," added Brady. "Collectively, we have to perform better with our backs against the wall."
Cleveland outgained the visitors by a 404-283 count and limited New England to 68 yards rushing...Patriots kicked Stephen Gostkowski left the game in the second quarter with a thigh injury and did not return...New England had also taken six of the last seven meetings with Cleveland dating back to 1995...Patriots guard Logan Mankins was in the starting lineup for the first time since resolving a contract dispute. He was added to the active roster on Saturday...The Browns host the Jets next Sunday.
Another bright spot for you, as New England's favorite slot receiver kicks the extra point for the injured Stephen Gostkowski.
Peyton Hillis just put the game out of reach, running 35 yards into the end zone to give the Browns a 34-14 lead. The Browns doubled their average scoring on the season against the Patriots defense, and scored four more than the Bills, who had set the previous high against the 2010 Pats at 30.
For a team that was one week ago being hailed as the best in the league, it’s a loud wake up call that there are huge problems left unsolved on both sides of the ball. The Pats certainly didn’t look 6-1 this week, and going into Pittsburgh next week, they can’t afford to look like anything else.
It might be too little too late, but the Patriots have finally scored again.
Rob Gronkowski drew a pass interference call in the end zone to put the Pats in easy striking distance, and Tom Brady found Aaron Hernandez for his second touchdown of the game—another leaping grab from the tight end.
The rout is on?
It’s been poor execution that’s killed the Patriots today, with costly fumbles, bad dropped passes, and ill-timed penalties all contributing to the 20-point deficit they now face.
It’s not over till it’s over, but it sure looks over.
This is pretty much the one bright spot from today's game, but for one bright, shining moment, the Pats were within a field goal. All thanks to a great grab by Aaron Hernandez.
Graceful? Perhaps not. But still, a very nice grab.
It seemed like the Patriots might have some life coming out of the half, moving to midfield in a hurry, but a false start and missed catches by Aaron Hernandez stopped the drive well short. The Browns responded by marching steadily downfield for a 10-play, 7-minute touchdown drive capped off by McCoy’s run.
It’s do or die time in Cleveland.
Remember that game in the preseason where Rob Gronkowski hopped into the end zone, dragging a defender all the way?
Well, this is why you don’t do that. After Brady led the team down the field in the last few minutes of the half, Gronkowski caught a pass around the 5-yard line, stayed on his feet, pushed towards the end zone, and coughed the ball up. That’s at least three points thrown down the drain, probably seven.
The Patriots are looking at a 10-point deficit at the half, and so far, aren’t showing signs that they’re a good enough team today to recover from it. Gonna need another good halftime talk from Bill Belichick.
The Browns didn’t waste any time building the lead back up to 10. A squib kick set Cleveland up with good field position, letting McCoy lead the Browns down the field on another touchdown drive, escaping big third down pressure to extend the drive in the red zone. A trick play freed Chansi Stuckey for an 11-yard run into the end zone for the touchdown.
The Patriots have three minutes to drive down the field and get the game closer before the half.
It all started with a Rob Gronkowski catch.
Or maybe it was the first down sack that knocked the cobwebs out of Brady’s head. One way or another, Brady delivered a strike, Gronkowski caught it, and the Patriots were off.
The drive nearly stalled after BenJarvus Green Ellis was taken down from behind on third-and-short, but Bill Belichik elected to go for it instead of kicking a reasonable field goal, and a great play-action set up an easy toss-and-catch to Sammy Morris, setting the Pats up with only a few yards to go.
On second down, Aaron Hernandez leapt into the air to retrieve a tipped pass from Brady in the back of the end zone, and got both feet in before falling to the ground, putting the Pats on the board.
Everything seems to be going wrong on offense, really. Brady is missing open receivers and rushing throws. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran directly into his blocker with almost nobody else nearby, and if Rob Gronkowski catches a pass this game it will be a miracle.
The Pats have been a second-half team of late, but they just got outgained by over 100 yards in the first quarter. Something has to change fast or they’re going to have their work cut out for them at the half.
The Patriots have dug an early hole for themselves with one big stupid mistake.
After the Browns’ opening-drive field goal, the ensuing kickoff was high and short. Rob Gronkowski called for a fair catch around the 20-yard line before letting the ball fall behind him. Sammy Morris tried to cover it up, but the Browns rushed in and grabbed the loose ball. A great catch from TE Evan Moore put the Browns just a few yards away, and Peyton Hillis pounded the ball in for the 10-0 lead.
There’s 55 minutes to go, but that’s the worst 5 minutes the Patriots have had in a long time.
Having won the coin toss and chosen to receive, the Browns came out of the gates swinging with a good return set up Colt McCoy at the 37-yard line. One strike to Mohamed Massaquoi and a strong run from Peyton Hillis later, and the Browns were just 22-yards away.
The Patriots defense stepped up, though, and stopped the Browns there, with Jonathan Wilhite’s tight coverage shutting down a 3rd down shot downfield and forcing the Browns to settle for the field goal.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Patriots have activated guard Logan Mankins for Sunday’s game against the Browns, releasing cornerback Terrence Wheatley from the 53-man roster and Tyrone McKenzie from the practice squad in response.
Mankins reported to the team earlier this week after holding out for the first seven games of the season over a contract dispute with the Patriots. His addition should help to bolster what has been an at times porous offensive line.
Wheatley and McKenzie share similar stories. Second and third round draft picks respectively, each ran into injury troubles that prevented them from performing up to their potential. Wheatley played in only five regular-season games in 2009 before sitting out all of 2010, while McKenzie never saw action with the team during the season.
The injury report following Friday's practices have been released in advance of Sunday's Week 9 game between the Patriots and Browns, and as expected, both Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme are listed as doubtful. Meanwhile, on the Patriots side, both Deion Branch and Patrick Chung are questionable after limited participation in practice.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Jarrad Page, S (Calf)
Fred Taylor, RB (Toe)
Deion Branch, WR (Hamstring)
Patrick Chung, S (Knee)
Matt Slater, WR (Ankle)
Tom Brady, QB (Right Shoulder)
Tully Banta-Cain, LB (Not injury related)
Brandon Spikes, LB (Knee)
Jake Delhomme, QB (Ankle)
John St. Clair, OL (Ankle)
Kenyon Coleman, DL (Knee)
Shaun Rogers, DL (Ankle)
Matt Roth, LB (Hamstring)
Seneca Wallace, QB (Ankle)
Alex Smith, TE (Ankle)
It should be noted that the Browns beat writer from the Plain Dealer, Mary Kay Cabot, is reporting that the Patriots' injury report is incorrect -- Wallace was not limited in practice, but rather he didn't practice at all.
As was expected, the Cleveland Browns will start rookie quarterback Coly McCoy Sunday at home against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. The decision was officially announced Friday afternoon by head coach Eric Mangini.
"I think with each experience, it helps you, because you recognize some things better and you get more comfortable adjusting," Mangini said.
Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme, Cleveland's other two QBs, both missed Thursday's practice as they continue to recover from high ankle sprains, both suffered in the game against the Falcons on Oct. 10. Neither have practice since then. Wallace could be active for Sunday's game, as the No. 2 or No. 3 option, while Delhomme will likely be inactive against the Patriots. Brett Ratliff is the Browns' other option for back-up.
Sunday will be McCoy's third NFL start, and his first at home. In his first two games, at Pittsburgh and at New Orleans, McCoy was 32-of-49 with 355 yards and touchdowns.
(Sports Network) - Happiness is a good, firm handshake.
And given his team's recent rebound from a Week 2 disappearance to a Week 8 re-ascension, it's hard to imagine a return to the days of grip and grimace for New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
After all, when the Patriots czar glares across the field at former underling Eric Mangini in Sunday's matchup with the Cleveland Browns, it'll be with slightly less drama than in their three years of matchups in East Rutherford and Foxborough.
Then, Mangini's New York Jets were at least intermittent threats to the Patriots' supremacy in the AFC East, beating them once each in 2006 and 2008 and famously levying surreptitious filming charges that became fodder for the infamous "Spygate" scandal.
The prodigy formerly known as "Man-Genius" was voted out of the New Jersey swamps after the 2008 season following a third-year implosion, however, and his new team -- the Browns -- has been quietly reshuffling its decks for 1 1/2 seasons while not crossing paths with Belichick & Co.
That changes when the 6-1 Pats meet the 2-5 Browns along the Lake Erie shoreline this weekend. But will it be a special reunion?
Just ask Belichick, who was his usual non-revealing self in a Wednesday media conference call.
"We're both coaching teams that are going to play on Sunday," he said. "We're both going to put a lot into this week and try and win on Sunday.
"Right now, [the focus] is just trying to get my team ready. Get the Patriots ready to play the Browns. It's not really about any personal thing. I'm trying to do a job, so is the rest of our team. So is their team. We will see what happens on Sunday."
Mangini presumably has more pressing weekend concerns as well.
The second-year Browns boss is in the midst of a trial run for rookie quarterback Colt McCoy, the former University of Texas standout who's made his initial two NFL starts over the last two games -- losing at Pittsburgh on Oct. 17 before returning to help Cleveland to a surprising 30-17 win at New Orleans seven days later.
Veteran signal-callers Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace didn't make significant progress from high-ankle sprains during the team's subsequent bye week and neither practiced Wednesday, leaving the young McCoy likely to go ahead and duel with long-time role model Tom Brady.
"For me, just being on the field with Tom Brady, that's kind of like last week [against the Saints' Drew Brees]," McCoy said. "Tom Brady has won three Super Bowls, and just to be out there playing against him, that's awesome for me."
Cleveland holds an 11-9 edge in the all-time regular-season series with New England, but the Patriots have won four straight and six of the last seven meetings between the teams dating back to 1995. The Browns' only victory over that stretch was a 19-11 home triumph in 2000. In the most recent encounter, New England posted a 34-17 win in Foxborough en route to a 16-0 regular season in 2007, and came through with a 42-15 rout of the Browns in its last visit to Cleveland, which took place in 2004.
In addition to their slight regular-season advantage, the Browns have prevailed in their only lifetime postseason matchup with New England. That win, a 20-13 verdict in Cleveland in a 1994 AFC Wild Card Playoff, was engineered with Belichick then in charge of the Browns.
Belichick and Mangini have an extensive history with one another, with the latter serving as an assistant under Belichick in New England from 2000-05 and the two also working on the coaching staff of the New York Jets from 1997-99. Belichick has a 5-2 record in head-to-head matchups with his former pupil, all of which came during Mangini's tenure with the Jets from 2006-08.
Belichick is 4-1 lifetime against the Browns, whom he coached for five seasons (1991-95) and guided to the franchise's last playoff win in 1994. Mangini has a 2-5 career mark versus New England.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
As usual, expect prolific scoring. The Patriots enter the weekend leading the NFL in points per game with an average of 29.3, in spite of a pedestrian 330.3 yards per game clip on offense that's only 19th-best in the league. Quarterback Brady is 4-0 lifetime against Cleveland and needs one touchdown to vault by Hall of Famer Jim Kelly into 17th place among the league's all-time throwers in that category. He's completed 147-of-225 passes for 1,602 yards, 12 touchdowns and a 96.6 rating in seven games this season. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been a worthwhile newcomer to a spotlight role and aims for a sixth consecutive game with at least one rushing touchdown. He established career-bests in both rushing yards (112) and touchdowns (two) in last week's 28-18 defeat of Minnesota, and the Patriots are 9-1 when he reaches the end zone. Buoyed by the departure of Randy Moss, wideout Brandon Tate had the first 100-yard receiving game of his career last week as well. New England's Aaron Hernandez is second among rookie tight ends with 388 receiving yards.
Rush defense has been a particular issue for the Browns through seven games, as opponents have racked up an average of 111.3 yards per week on the ground. Cleveland has surrendered 244.1 yards per game via the pass, leaving a 355.4 yards per game total that's only 22nd-best in the league. Getting into the end zone against that defense has been slightly more difficult. Cleveland's foes' total of 142 points, an average of just more than 20 a game, is 12th-best in the league. Rookie free safety T.J. Ward leads the Browns with 54 tackles (39 solo) in addition to his three pass deflections and one forced fumble. Meanwhile, linebackers Marcus Benard andScott Fujita lead the team with 4 1/2 and 3 1/2, respectively, of the team's 13 sacks. Benard's total is already a career high. Elsewhere, rookie cornerback Joe Haden, selected seventh overall in this past April's draft, had his first career interception in the pre-bye victory over New Orleans. In that same triumph, David Bowens became just the third LB since 1970 (Ken Norton and Derrick Johnson) to return two picks for touchdowns in a game.
WHEN THE BROWNS HAVE THE BALL
McCoy is making the best of a not-so-special situation under center, completing 32-of-49 passes for 355 yards and a touchdown in two starts -- a victory over the Saints and a loss to Pittsburgh. He's posted a 76.5 passer rating and with veterans Delhomme and Wallace still hobbled, looks likely to make a third straight appearance. McCoy has provided something of a spark to a flaccid offensive unit that's managed just 292 yards per week (28th in the league). The Browns' point total of 118 is just 31st of 32 teams. McCoy's primary weapon in the backfield is burly running back Peyton Hillis, the Denver castoff who's gone for 460 yards and five touchdowns on the ground on 104 carries. He's also scored six overall touchdowns in seven games this season. Meanwhile, tight end Benjamin Watson has a team-high 30 catches for 336 yards and two scores. He was a first-round draft choice (32nd overall) by the Patriots in 2004 and spent six seasons with New England. Watson is third in Pats' history with 20 touchdowns as a tight end.
As good as the offense is, the Patriots' defense is just that suspect. New England has been gashed for weekly averages of 384 yards and 22 points per game, which place it 28th and 21st in the league in the two categories. Slightly more than 100 yards (101.6 ypg) have come on the ground, with an ugly 282.4 through the air, though that total is at least partially due to the Patriots holding consistent late-game leads and prompting attempted rallies. Five of seven opponents have reached at least 20 points, with Buffalo peaking out at 30 in Week 3. Only Miami (14 points in Week 4) and Minnesota (18 points in Week 8) have failed to get beyond the teens against New England. Linebacker Jerod Mayo has 85 tackles, including 58 solo stops, to lead the Patriots, along with a sack and a pass deflection. Tackle Mike Wright has four sacks and aims for a fifth straight game with at least one. In the backfield, cornerback Devin McCourty, a first-round pick in April's draft, goes for a third game in a row with an interception.
Regardless of what weapons he picks on any given Sunday, Brady is a slam-dunk starter. Tate went beyond 100 yards last week and could be poised to post another big yardage number, while fellow wideout Wes Welkerrecords high-end catch numbers. Green-Ellis might get significant late-game work, assuming New England is again playing with a lead, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski always stays busy. While McCoy doesn't warrant his own start yet, both Hillis and Watson should at least get something of use against a porous Patriots unit.
Good teams occasionally lose these games, but more so than most coaches, Belichick has shown an ability to keep his players motivated for the ones others trip over. A road encounter in a hostile environment before a pair of matchups with formidable foes has all the fixings of "trap game," but it's hard to fathom a young quarterback like McCoy keeping it together long enough to accomplish the task.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Patriots 23, Browns 14
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