Reviewing The Keys To Victory: (original Keys To The Game click here)
1. Running The Ball: The Pats were once again able to control the clock despite not having their #1 guy for the second week in a row. Morris averaged close to five yards a carry on 21 attempts. Even the receivers got into the act, with both Stallworth and Watson both getting end-around plays for 12 and 11 yards respectfully. Cleveland had no answer to the Patriots attack, but did allow less yardage (147) than they had averaged coming into the game (160).
|Derek Anderson #3 of the Cleveland Browns is sacked by Vince Wilfork #75 of the New England Patriots on October 7, 2007 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Browns 34-17. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)|
2. Confuse Derek Anderson: New England was able to mix up their coverage schemes and their blitz packages, which had Anderson off-balance for most of the game. Tedy Bruschi recorded two sacks and on both, came in relatively untouched on both occasions. Vince Wilfork also recorded a sack, his first of the season.
3. Turnovers: The Patriots certainly excelled in this aspect of the game, recording three interceptions and recovering a fumble, which led to 21 New England points. Seau recorded two interceptions in a game for the third time in his career, with the last coming while he was a member of the Chargers back in '96 against the Chiefs.
1. Jamal Lewis To Set Up The Passing Game: This ended up being a huge story, as Lewis only got one carry before injuring his foot, forcing him to leave the game. In his absence, Jason Wright was able to make a solid contribution, rushing for 59 yards on 15 attempts. Losing Lewis proved to be one of the differences in the game, and his absence could have been what kept Cleveland from making any serious run at the Patriots' lead all game.
2. No Risk, No Reward: While the Browns did start taking chances going downfield later on in the game, it was when they were losing by three scores and were basically out of the game. Anderson's three interceptions all came on broken-up plays in the first half, so even though they had a lot of turnovers, it wasn't because they were making any kind of deep-ball risks, which is something they should have been doing all along. Remember, this was Rodney Harrison's first game this season, so testing him early would have been the smart move. Despite all the turnovers, Cleveland still was in a position to make a move early on in the third quarter, but could only manage three points heading into the fourth.
3. Using The Past To Help The Present: It was clear that the Pats came in totally prepared to stop what Cleveland wanted to do, and that Crennel's knowledge of the defense can only go so far. The Lewis injury was a killer, as they needed to come up with a new game plan on the fly. They were able to put up some yards and points down the stretch, but it was simply too little, too late, as the Patriots were able to jump out to a 20-point lead before Cleveland knew what hit them.
For New England, they will take their perfect 5-0 record to Dallas next week to take on the Cowboys. This will likely be built up as the game of the year in the NFL so far this season, and now that the Pats were able to get by Cleveland, the focus can now be solely on Dallas. This is a matchup of two of the top teams in the league, and should be a classic. This will be the Patriots' toughest task of the season so far. Fortunately, Dallas will be playing on a short week, which gives the Pats an extra day to prepare for their showdown in Big D.
Official Game Thread: Browns vs Patriots (Pats site)