FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Whatever your worst-case scenario was for Sunday's Browns game, think of that and then multiply it by 10.
The Browns suffered a humiliating 45-7 defeat to the New England Patriots in a matchup that could potentially play a big role in the AFC playoff picture. It's Cleveland's worst loss since 2005, when the Pittsburgh Steelers crushed them 41-0 on Christmas Eve.
It seemed like everything went wrong on this occasion. Chief among the concerns is the defense, which followed up a solid performance last week by allowing 452 total yards and letting the Pats convert seven of nine third downs. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones carved up the secondary all afternoon long with 198 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Rhamondre Stevenson had 100 yards and two scores after not practicing all week.
The Browns' offense began the game with a Baker Mayfield touchdown pass to Austin Hooper that capped an 84-yard drive, but the unit managed just 133 yards the rest of the game. Mayfield completed a mere 52% of his passes for just 73 yards and a costly interception that led to another New England score. He was also pressured all day, and ended up having to leave the game after suffering a knee injury in the third quarter.
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There was a scary moment toward the end of the game, when Cleveland's Troy Hill hurt his neck while trying to make a tackle. The veteran corner had to be stretchered off the field, but according to CBS Sports had movement in all extremities and is being taken to a local hospital.
At .500, the Browns are still very much alive in the postseason race, but a brutal schedule is on the horizon. Next week's game, though, will be against the Detroit Lions, who tied the Steelers Sunday to remain the NFL's only winless team at 0-8-1.
What follows is a comprehensive, drive-by-drive recap of today's action, with the most recent plays and updates closest to the top. Stay tuned for analysis all afternoon long on both 3News and WKYC.com.
1:02: Case Keenum is sacked again, and after another Jamie Gillan punt the Patriots will go into victory formation.
4:13 - Patriots 45, Browns 7: Cleveland native and former Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer comes in to mop up at quarterback, and all he does is lead the Patriots on a 95-yard drive that ends with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Meyers.
To make things even worse, Troy Hill hurt himself trying to tackle Meyers, and had to be carted off the field.
8:15: Baker Mayfield suffered a right knee injury and is unlikely to return, mostly due to the game during into a blowout. Case Keenum takes over and leads the Browns downfield, but Jarvis Landry is stopped on fourth-and-goal, and the Pats will take over at their own 5.
13:33 - Patriots 38, Browns 7: Hunter Henry catches his second touchdown of the day, this time from three yards out. At this point, the result of this game is merely a formality.
1:32: With the Browns running out of hope, Baker Mayfield is hit on a throw and comes up limping. Case Keenum replaces him at quarterback and promptly gets sacked on third and fourth down, giving the Patriots the ball at the Cleveland 47.
5:04 - Patriots 31, Browns 7: The rout is on, as New England caps off another 90-plus-yard drive with a Rhamondre Stevenson 2-yard touchdown.
10:10: After a quick first down, D'Ernest Johnson is stuffed on third-and-short. Jamie Gillan gets off another good roll on his punt, with pins the Patriots at their own 8-yard line.
13:33: The Patriots go three-and-out for the first time today after Malik McDowell sacks Mac Jones. Jake Bailey punts, but his kick is not fielded by JoJo Natson and rolls 66 yards to the Browns 17.
0:00: Baker Mayfield attempts to get the offense rolling before halftime, but he fumbles and watches the ball go out of bounds. On second down, he takes a knee, and the Browns head into intermission down three scores.
0:17 - Patriots 24, Browns 7: The Browns finally get a third-down stop, but the Patriots still get a 38-yard field goal from Nick Folk.
3:48: Nothing is going right for the Browns, who go three-and-out on their next series. What's more, Jamie Gillan's punt sails just 39 yards to the Patriots 33.
5:40 - Patriots 21, Browns 7: 11 plays, 99 yards, and it ends with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Mac Jones to Kendrick Bourne.
11:51: The Browns get a couple of first downs but stall at the New England 40. Thankfully, the "Scottish Hammer" delivers, as Jamie Gillan boots a 58-yard punt that rolls out of bounds at the Pats 2, and a holding penalty on the return puts it inside the 1.
14:43 - Patriots 14, Browns 7: One play later, Rhamondre Stevenson finishes things off with a 5-yard touchdown run, and the Patriots have their first lead of the day.
14:48: Baker Mayfield throws into double coverage and ends up with his first interception in almost a month. Kyle Duggar takes the pick all the way down to the Browns' 5-yard line.
0:26 - Browns 7, Patriots 7: After a solid game last week, the Browns' defense comes out struggling by allowing the Patriots to pick up three third downs (including a third-and-13 on a screen pass). The nearly-10-minute drive ends with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Mac Jones to Hunter Henry.
10:05 - Browns 7, Patriots 0: A couple of nice D'Ernest Johnson runs get the Browns near the goal line, but some questionable play calls and a David Njoku drop lead to a fourth down. However, Austin Hooper saves the day with a juggling catch in the back of the end zone to give the Browns the lead.
Though Chubb and Felton will be out, the Browns will get a huge boost on the defensive side, as rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has been activated from injured reserve and is expected to play. Besides the players on the COVID list, the following players are also inactive for Cleveland:
- CB Greedy Williams
- S Richard LeCounte III
- LB Tony Fields II
- DE Takkarist McKinley
- WR Ja'Marcus Bradley
- DT Sheldon Day
For the Patriots, running back Damien Harris and tight end Jonnu Smith are out, while former Browns linebacker Jamie Collins has been placed on IR. Wide receiver Wide receiver N'Keal Harry will play after missing last Sunday's game against Carolina.