Patriots - Browns: Report Cards

The Patriots hardly managed to threaten the Cleveland Browns during Sunday's 34-14 blowout loss. Yet, despite all the problems there were a few bright spots. Here is a look at how both teams fared on a unit-by-unit basis.


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Tom Brady certainly isn't to blame here. He gave the Patriots plenty of chances, completing 19 of 36 passes for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The defense failed to stop the run, which left the offense with little time to maneuver. TE Rob Gronkowski's fumble at the goal line at the end of the first half was a momentum-killer.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Danny Woodhead continued to impress, averaging 6.0 yards per carry, but he only had nine attempts since the Patriots trailed early and made little attempt to establish the run. BenJarvus Green-Ellis didn't provide much help, and no one else had a single carry.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Browns didn't pass much because they didn't have to, but when they did, the Patriots didn't do much to stop quarterback Colt McCoy, who completed 14 of 19 passes for 174 yards. The Patriots never got much of a pass rush, either, and McCoy stayed relatively clean for the entire afternoon.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- This is the worst the run defense has looked since Week 2 against the Jets. Peyton Hillis destroyed the Patriots, rushing for 184 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns. McCoy also rushed for a touchdown on a trick play. All told, the Patriots allowed four rushing touchdowns and were completely outclassed defensively.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Where do you start? Rob Gronkowski allowed the Browns to recover a kickoff by calling for a fair catch and letting the ball drop untouched. The Patriots also had a punt partially blocked and allowed a 36-yard kickoff return. The only brief positive was Wes Welker filling in for injured kicker Stephen Gostkowski and nailing an extra point.

COACHING: C -- The coaches can't take too much blame for the mental errors on the field, but it does reflect on the team's preparation leading into the game. In the aftermath, the Patriots talked about how they didn't have a great week of practice, which ultimately reflects poorly on the coaching staff.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Colt McCoy played the same kind of smart, patient game he's played since he took over as the starter three games ago. There is a danger, especially in win-starved Cleveland, to anoint McCoy after three games when he's thrown for a total of 529 yards (177 per game). But McCoy has brought excitement by being smart with the ball, and by being patient. No game has seemed too big for him, including New England's confusing array of coverages. There is a growing feeling the Browns have their quarterback; now it's up to McCoy to prove it.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus -- The Browns rolled up a season-high 220 yards rushing, and they steamrolled the New England defense in doing so. The offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, and Peyton Hillis had 29 punishing carries. Hillis' 184 yards were all earned, especially the last 60. New England knew the Browns would try to run to run out the clock, the Browns did it anyway, and Hillis carried six times for 60 yards on a 60-yard touchdown drive. It doesn't get a lot better.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes -- one on a tipped ball -- and had moments with 224 yards passing. But the Browns never let Brady have the big play, and they tackled well when the Pats did complete a pass. Whether New England's struggles were an indication of the Patriots' struggles without a true deep threat or because of the Cleveland defense is immaterial: The Browns held the top-scoring team in the league to 14 points.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- New England is not a great running team, but its running game became less relevant after the Browns jumped out to a 10-0 lead. The Patriots ran 18 times and instead relied on Brady, who threw 38 times. It's not tough to stop an average running game when the other team is not committed to running, but that does not change the reality that the Browns contained New England and limited the Pats to 14 points.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Solid, but not great. Reggie Hodges' punting was acceptable, Phil Dawson made two field goals, the return game was OK and the coverage good. The Browns will rarely lose a game on special teams, and sometimes will win one. Against New England, they were not beaten.

COACHING: A -- Eric Mangini and his staff have had some bad games. Sunday they had an outstanding one. The Browns were prepared and poised against one of the best teams in the league. Perhaps the best thing the Browns have done is not allow McCoy to play like a rookie. Instead of falling into the trap of calling a careful game to minimize mistakes, the coaching staff has allowed him to play without being overly aggressive. It's worked. Defensively, Rob Ryan's schemes have stopped Drew Brees and Brady in consecutive weeks. The Browns started the year dismally, but for whatever reason, things seem to be coming together, which could make for a very interesting second half of the season.

This report courtesy The Sports Xchange

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