CLEVELAND—The Browns are trying to do the unthinkable.
That is, knock off the defending Super Bowl champions and the current best team in the NFL as they lead the Patriots, 17-7 at halftime.
The Browns gambled on fourth down to keep a drive going and pulled a little more razzle-dazzle in their second touchdown as Chansi Stuckey ran around left end for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
The Browns took a quick 3-0 lead with 11:49 to play in the first quarter as Phil Dawson kicked a 38-yard field goal. Josh Cribbs took the opening kickoff and returned it to the 37. Colt McCoy threw to Mohamed Massaquoi for 21 yards on the first play and then Peyton Hillis went up the middle for 18 yards to the 24 on the next play. Hillis hurdled a Patriot on the run and left the field for two plays. Two short runs by Mike Bell and an incomplete pass in the end zone to Chansi Stuckey set up the field goal.
The Browns extended their lead to 10-0, three plays later as Hillis went over from the two with 11:11 to play in the first quarter.
After the Browns opening field goal, the Patriots let the ball bounce on the kickoff and Sammy Morris muffed it and former Patriot Ray Ventrone recovered on the Patriots' 19. McCoy threw to Evan Moore and he went high and took the ball away from the defender at the two. On the next play, Hillis went in from the two to make it 10-0 with 11:11 to play. It was Hillis' sixth rushing touchdown and seventh, overall.
The Patriots made it 10-7 as Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez from two yards out with 8:43 to play in the second quarter. Brady's pass was deflected near the end zone, but Hernandez hauled it in before it went out of bounds. The Patriots started at their 21, but Ahtyba Rubin sacked Brady on first down back to the 12. However, from there, the Patriots the length of the field to complete the 79-yard drive.
Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 22 yards after the sack and then hit Danny Woodhead for 26 yards to the Browns' 33. On fourth-and-one from the Browns' 24, Brady threw a swing pass to Sammy Morris for 22 yards to the two. After a run for no gain by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brady and Hernandez hooked up for the score.
The Browns answered the Patriots score with one of their own as the Browns took a 17-7 lead with 3:23 to play in the first half as Chansi Stuckey took a handoff from Josh Cribbs around left end for 11-yards. McCoy threw a seven-yard pass to Mohamed Massaquoi to keep the drive going on third-and-5.
McCoy hit former Patriot Benjamin Watson for 24 yards to the Patriots' 23. A key play was on third-and-4, McCoy escaped from a sack and was able to hit Cribbs for the first down. On the next play, Stuckey lined up behind the right guard with Cribbs over center. The flow all went to the right, but Stuckey took a reverse handoff and was able to break the plane of the end zone with the ball for the score. The Browns went 60 yards on nine plays, taking 5:21 off the clock.
The Browns had a big play at the end of the first half as Abe Elam stripped the ball from Rob Gronkowski and recovered the fumble at the Browns' two to prevent the Patriots from scoring.
Colt's Debut: QB Colt McCoy made his debut as the starter at Cleveland Browns Stadium. In the first half, McCoy was 9-of-14 for 106 yards. His longest pass was for 24 yards to TE Ben Watson. McCoy rushed for three yards on fourth-and-one in the first quarter.
Mo's Back: WR Mohamed Massaquoi was the leading receiver at the half with three receptions for 50 yards.
Gutsy: Leading 10-0 in the first quarter, the Browns went for it on fourth-and-one from their own 36. When they lined up, it looked like they were trying to draw the Patriots offside, but after the Browns shifted to the spread formation, with no backs in the backfield, McCoy snuck up the middle for three yards.
Wildcat: WR Josh Cribbs had two runs out of the wildcat for two-yards. However, when the Browns lined up with Cribbs under center the third time, he handed to WR Chansi Stuckey, who ran around left end for 11 yards and a touchdown.
Lauvao Debut: OL Shawn Lauvao was in on the Browns' fourth possession. It was Lauvao's first regular season action after being sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Lauvao was a third-round draft choice this year.
Peyton's Place: RB Peyton Hillis scored his sixth rushing touchdown in the first quarter from two yards. It was his seventh touchdown of the season. Hillis fumbled after a 16-yard run in the first quarter. Hillis had 63 yards on nine carries in the first quarter. He also caught a pass for one-yard. He had 73 yards at halftime.
Have a Rubin: DL Ahytba Rubin pushed right up the middle and sacked QB Tom Brady for a nine-yard loss.
Abe's Day: S Abe Elam was the leading tackler at the half with 7, including a big fumble caused, which he recovered to stop the Patriots' scoring threat. S T.J. Ward had five tackles.
Inactives: QB Seneca Wallace (ankle), QB Jake Delhomme (ankle), OL John St. Clair (ankle), TE Alex Smith, RB Thomas Clayton, OL Steve Vallos, WR Demetrius Williams and DL Jayme Mitchell. Billy Yates started at right guard and Floyd Womack at right tackle. For New England: WR Taylor Price, RB Fred Taylor, S Patrick Chung, S Jarrad Page, OL Rich Ohmberger, C Ryan Wendell T Makr LeVoir, and DL Kyle Love.