Final, Patriots 33-13: And that will do it.
Tom Brady’s return from suspension played out perfectly for the Patriots, who routed the Browns to improve to 4-1 on the season. Cleveland remains winless at 0-5.
Brady completed 28 of 40 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns (all to tight end Martellus Bennett) in his regular-season debut, while Chris Hogan and tight end Rob Gronkowski both surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark.
The Patriots outgained the Browns 501 yards to 262 in the win, and Cleveland, which led the NFL in rushing entering Sunday, finished with just 27 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Brady’s home debut will come next Sunday, when New England hosts the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium.
Fourth quarter, 3:30, Patriots 33-13: A big hit by Jonathan Jones sends Whitehurst to the sideline (yes, another injury to another Browns quarterback), and Cleveland turns the ball over on downs after a fourth-down deep ball by Terrelle Pryor falls incomplete.
Fourth quarter, 5:06, Patriots 33-13: After a Patriots three-and-out and a Ryan Allen punt, Cleveland takes over at its own 14-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 6:02, Patriots 33-13: Malcom Brown wrestles Charlie Whitehurst to the turf on third down, and the Browns punt it away once again.
It appears the Patriots will give Brady the rest of the afternoon off. Jimmy Garoppolo leads the New England offense onto the field.
Brady completed 28 of 40 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
Fourth quarter, 7:42, Patriots 33-13: A 37-yard dime from Brady to Gronkowski helped set up a 31-yard field goal by Gostkowski.
Also of note: Hogan returned to the game for the Patriots after being taken to the locker room late in the third quarter. He was questionable to return with a head injury, and it’s a bit surprising the team decided to put him back in, given the lopsided score.
Fourth quarter, 14:05, Patriots 30-13: The Patriots let the Browns march down the field for an 80-yard drive. Andrew Hawkins and Gary Barnidge caught 24- and 31-yard passes, respectively. Charlie Whitehurst hit Connor Hamlett for a 17-yard touchdown over rookie cornerback Jonathan Jones.
Third quarter, 2:27, Patriots 30-7: The Patriots were forced to punt again.
This happened, though:
Chris Hogan landed awkwardly after being tripped up on an end around. He’s questionable to return with a head injury after he was taken into the locker room.
Third quarter, 5:42, Patriots 30-7: Who knows if it would have been different if Cody Kessler had stayed at quarterback, but the Patriots’ defense is smothering the Browns. They’ve allowed 13 yards on 16 carries and just 132 yards through the air.
The Patriots have the ball on their own 25-yard line after another Browns punt.
Third quarter, 6:44, Patriots 30-7: The Patriots were forced to punt after Brady was tripped up and sacked on third down. Brady was very mad. He’s up 30-7 midway through the third quarter.
Third quarter, 8:06, Patriots 30-7: An interception just fell into Patrick Chung’s arms. Charlie Whitehurst’s pass fell through Duke Johnson’s hands and into Chung’s. The Patriots have the ball on their own 34-yard line.
Cornerback Cyrus Jones was ejected from the game for throwing a punch.
Third quarter, 12:24, Patriots 30-7: Martellus Bennett’s ankle seems just fine. The Patriots tight end just caught his third touchdown of the game. He has four catches on four targets for 51 yards with three TDs.
Brady now is 22 of 31 for 330 yards with three touchdowns.
Halftime, Patriots 23-7: The Browns couldn’t complete a hail mary to finish the drive.
Second quarter, 0:12, Patriots 23-7: The Patriots were held scoreless in their third straight drive. Stephen Gostkowski missed a 50-yard field goal.
Second quarter, 1:51, Patriots 23-7: The Patriots’ defense — the same one fans were complaining about after the second series of the game — just forced another three and out. They have the ball on their own 38-yard line.
Second quarter, 2:59, Patriots 23-7: Brady went 1 of 3 for 5 yards as the Browns forced a three and out. The Browns have the ball on their own 20.
Second quarter, 3:48, Patriots 23-7: The Patriots forced another punt. They let up a first down on a defensive pass interference penalty called on cornerback Malcolm Butler.
They have the ball on their own 37-yard line.
Second quarter, 6:03, Patriots 23-7: The Patriots made it down to the 2-yard line but got stuffed at the line. They turned the ball over on downs after consecutive carries for no gain by Blount.
Second quarter, 9:12, Patriots 23-7: The Patriots forced a punt after allowing one first down. They have the ball on their own 27-yard line.
Linebacker Elandon Roberts is seeing snaps on defense as it appears the Patriots are trying to give Hightower some rest.
Second quarter, 12:10, Patriots 23-7: The Browns’s defense has offered very little resistance.
The Patriots just moved down the field again with ease. Brady capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Bennett.
Brady is 13 of 15 for 185 yards with two touchdowns. Yikes.
First quarter, 1:20, Patriots 16-7: The Patriots’ defense just forced a safety on a backward pass by Cody Kessler. Dont’a Hightower also hurt Kessler on the play by landing on his shoulder.
First quarter, 2:06, Patriots 14-7: The Patriots’ offense is pretty darn good.
Brady hit Bennett for an easy 7-yard touchdown. Bennett briefly was questionable to return with an ankle injury but came out for the Patriots’ first play of the drive.
Brady now is 8 of 10 for 129 yards with a touchdown. What rust?
First quarter, 6:09, 7-7: The Browns also cruised down the field easily, converting on two third-down opportunities. Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones let up an 11-yard touchdown to wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.
First quarter, 10:28, Patriots 7-0: The Patriots made their way down the field easily on Brady’s first drive of the season.
Brady went 4 of 5 for 65 yards. Gronkowski caught two passes for 53 yards, including an impressive 34-yard catch and run. Running back LeGarrette Blount put New England on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett suffered a knee injury on the drive, however. Trainers checked his right knee before he jogged off the field. He’s being checked on the sideline.
First quarter, 13:41: The Patriots’ defense began the game by forcing a three-and-out. Browns running back Isaiah Crowell had two carries for 5 yards. QB Cody Kessler threw incomplete on third down.
First quarter, 15:00: The Patriots won the coin toss and chose to defer. The Browns will receive the kick to start the game.
12:52 p.m.: The stadium still is half full, but right now it appears to be more than half New England fans. The Patriots just ran onto the field led by Brady, and fans went wild.
12:17 p.m.: This place is crawling with Patriots fans. Tom Brady was greeted warmly when he took the field for pregame work.
11:30 a.m.: Here are the Patriots’ inactives:
TE Greg Scruggs
LB Shea McClellin
CB Justin Coleman
RB Brandon Bolden
DT Vincent Valentine
CB Eric Rowe
OT Marcus Cannon
— Cameron Fleming projects to start at RT with Cannon out.
— Julian Edelman is active after being listed as questionable. So is LeGarrette Blount and Rob Gronkowski.
— Rookie Cyrus Jones will be the Patriots’ No. 3 cornerback with Coleman and Rowe healthy scratches. Having both Coleman and Rowe out is a pretty big surprise.
— AJ Derby will be the Patriots’ third tight end.
— Rookie running back D.J. Foster is active. He could take kick return reps.
— Jimmy Garoppolo will back up Tom Brady.
10:37 a.m.: Cannon’s workout just ended. It’s unclear whether he’ll be ready to go. We’ll find out in less than an hour, when the Patriots release their remaining four inactives.
10:30 a.m.: NESN.com is stationed at FirstEnergy Stadium, and so is Brady. The Patriots quarterback arrived around 10 a.m.
Patriots starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is on the field in shoulder pads going through a pregame warmup with the training staff, indicating he’s a game-time decision. He missed practice Thursday and was limited Friday.
Cameron Fleming projects as the Patriots’ starting right tackle if Cannon can’t go.
8 a.m. ET: Tom Brady’s return from a four-game suspension officially is hours — not days, weeks or months — away. Rejoice, New England Patriots fans.
Brady and the Patriots take on the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m. on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. It will be Brady’s first game action since Week 4 of the preseason, when he went 16 of 26 for 166 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Brady’s return also should result in an uptick in production for tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman, which in turn could yield a return to the mean for tight end Martellus Bennett, who flourished with rookie QB Jacoby Brissett.
Patriots running back Brandon Bolden, linebacker Shea McClellin and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine already have been ruled out for Sunday. Our prediction for the last four inactives: tight end Greg Scruggs, offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle, cornerback Eric Rowe, linebacker Elandon Roberts.
Stay here for updates and analysis leading up to and through Sunday’s game.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images
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