CLEVELAND -- Rapid reaction from the Patriots’ 34-14 loss to the Browns:
What it means. After a week in which the Patriots could boast having the best record in the NFL at 6-1, they came crashing back to Earth. The Browns (3-5) outplayed them in every facet of the game, with Eric Mangini and his staff also getting the best of Bill Belichick and his staff. The Patriots were outplayed, outcoached, out-everythinged.
Gronkowski mistakes hurt the Patriots. Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski made two mistakes that played a significant part in the final outcome. After the Browns went ahead 3-0, Gronkowski was set up in a wedge position on the kickoff and signaled for a fair catch on a short attempt. But he moved away from the ball, putting running back Sammy Morris in a tough spot. The Browns recovered and quickly went up 10-0. Then, with the Patriots looking to close to 17-14 at the half, Gronkowski fumbled at the 1, with the Browns recovering.
Brady and offense stuck in neutral. Quarterback Tom Brady was off his game as the Patriots’ offense continued its inconsistent ways. Brady looked visibly frustrated at times. There were times when the offensive struggles were simply a result of no one getting open. Other times, it was the Browns mixing their defensive looks and creating pressure. The Patriots didn’t help themselves with some drops.
Kicker situation important to monitor. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski left the game in the second quarter with a thigh injury and did not return. The Patriots will likely be looking at their emergency list this week for kicker options. Wes Welker had a successful point-after attempt and also a kickoff in the fourth quarter in Gostkowski’s absence.
Credit to Hillis, McCoy & Browns. As bad as the Patriots looked in this game, credit should also go to the Browns. They took it to the Patriots physically and Colt McCoy played with veteran-like poise. They deserved the win, with Peyton Hillis and the offensive line powering through what had been a solid New England run defense, and McCoy delivering in critical situations.
What’s next. The Patriots travel to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night game against the Steelers. After the way the Patriots were run over by Hillis (29 carries, 184 yards) and the Browns, they’ll have to prove that they can stand up to the physical Steelers. The Browns, who looked sharp coming off their bye, host the Jets.