Cleveland Browns Week 8 Instant Reactions: Same old Pats, Same new Browns

FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 27: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns during warmups prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 27: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns during warmups prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

Things got ugly in Foxborough as the Cleveland Browns fell to 2-5 on the year as they were beaten by the New England Patriots 27-13

This was not a football game between the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots — it was like a curse of  Biblical proportions. Next week the city of Cleveland will be invaded by locusts, but this week they had to watch their football team get slaughtered by the Pats.

The first half was a litany of horrific errors on a rainy New England Sunday, with a slick and possibly underinflated football. Errors are to be expected, but the Browns were much worse than the Patriots, falling 27-13 and were never in the game.

If you were hoping that Cleveland’s performance today would be impressive enough to entice the front office to add payroll in the form of an expensive veteran, you can forget all about that. If a move is made, it will probably be to send away a player who is not signed for next year.

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Joel Bitonio had one of the worst games of his fine career. Normally one of the most reliable performers on the team, the star left guard collided with Nick Chubb on Chubb’s first fumble and accidentally punched out the ball. Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower scooped it up and went in for six. Later, Bitonio was badly beaten by Patriots lineman Lawrence Guy, allowing Guy to take a pitch intended to be a trick play to Jarvis Landry.

Possibly the worst thing that has happened to Freddie Kitchens was last year having Jarvis Landry connect on a 63 yard bomb to Breshad Perriman on a trick play, because Kitchens seems fixated on trick plays this year. Doggone it coach, if you have  Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, Landry, and Nick Chubb (and you do), they are good enough to move the ball without weird plays.

Let them play, please.  As it is, we get to see exciting plays like  Mayfield completing passes to Lawrence Guy.

Nick Chubb showed he could make yards, but after fumbling on his first touch, he broke off a long run on his second touch, only to have the ball punched out by Patriots’ cornerback Jonathan Jones.

To start the second half, the Browns put together a bit of a drive to start the second half with a nice completion to Jarvis Landry, followed by a screen to Nick Chubb, and ultimately kicked a field goal to narrow the score to 17-10. To their credit, Cleveland didn’t lose confidence in Chubb after the first half flubs.

However, Julian Edelman hauled in his second touchdown pass to make it 24-10 after the extra point, through three quarters. Both teams slogged through the fourth quarter, trading field goals to make the final score 27-13.

Even after all that destruction and carnage, the Browns look like a talented team. They’re just not as talented as the World Champion Patriots. Still, the Browns defense was able to hold New England’s offense in check.

The defensive line kept the pressure on Brady, with Olivier Vernon collecting a sack of Brady and safety Eric Murray adding another. The secondary slowed down wide receivers Julian Edelman and Philip Dorsett for the most part. To some extent, Brady was able to pick on rookie Greedy Williams, but Denzel Ward looked like the Denzel Ward of last year. The Browns contained Pats running backs Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead.

Offensively they were killed by epic self-inflicted disasters, but they were good enough to move the ball against what had been a historically great defense through the first seven games.

Opposing offenses were scoring only 6.9 points per game. Although no one is saying the Patriots are better than the 1985 Chicago Bears, that Bears team gave up 12.4 points per game. So the Patriots defense has been on a roll lately. They had only given up three touchdowns to the rest of the NFL.

New offensive linemen Justin McCray (left tackle) and Wyatt Teller (right guard) played well.  McCray started, but Teller played in rotation with Eric Kush. It’s a little unusual to see offensive linemen rotate, so it would not be a surprise if Teller makes the move full-time at some point in the near future. The offensive line may have a path forward for the second half of the season.

Perhaps the most baffling play call was pulling the punt team off the field after a five-yard penalty on fourth and 11. On fourth and 16, Mayfield attempted to emulate Lamar Jackson on a very ill-advised scramble and came down hard on his right elbow and shoulder. That was horrible all the way around.

Next. 7-round mock draft after bye week. dark

The Browns are not a bad team. However, they have no one but themselves to blame for going  2-5 and it will be very hard to get back on a winning path, especially with Baltimore sitting smugly atop the AFC North Division at 5 -2.