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Postgame Notes: Browns 34, Patriots 14

11.07.10 at 6:05 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are some postgame notes from Sunday’s Patriots-Browns game:

G LOGAN MANKINS MAKES HIS DEBUT
G Logan Mankins, who reported to the Patriots earlier in the week, made his 2010 debut with a start at left guard. Mankins has now started all 81 regular-season games that he has played.

TE AARON HERNANDEZ RECORDS FIRST TWO NFL TOUCHDOWNS
Rookie TE Aaron Hernandez registered his first two NFL touchdowns. He scored his first NFL touchdown on a 2-yard score in the second quarter and then had a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

HERNANDEZ MAKES BIG PLAYS
Hernandez had a 22-yard reception late in the second quarter and now has a reception of 20 or more yards in seven of eight games.

HERNANDEZ ON GOOD PACE
Hernandez led the team with five receptions for 48 yards against Cleveland and now has 34 receptions in 2010 to go along with his 436 receiving yards. The Patriots franchise records for rookie tight ends are 37 receptions (by Greg Baty in 1986) and 636 receiving yards (by Russ Francis in 1975).

WELKER EXTENDS STREAK
Wes Welker extended his streak to 71 straight regular-season games with at least one reception. He has caught at least one pass in each of his 57 games with the Patriots, including three postseason games. The last time that Welker did not catch a pass in a game was December 24, 2005 when he was with the Dolphins. He has caught at least one pass in 54 consecutive regular-season games as a member of the Patriots. The Patriots’€™ record for most consecutive games with at least one pass is 63 by TE Ben Coates (12-17-92) to (12-15-96).

WELKER FORCED TO KICK
Welker was pressed into service as a kicker for the second time in his career and was successful on an extra point attempt and handled a kickoff both in the fourth quarter. Welker was filling in for the injured Stephen Gostkowski (thigh). While with Miami in 2004, he was pressed into action in a game at New England (10/10/04) and converted one extra point, a 29-yard field goal and also handled kickoff duties.

MAYO AIMS FOR FIFTH STRAIGHT GAME WITH 10-PLUS TACKLES
LB Jerod Mayo had his fifth-straight game with 10-plus tackles after finishing with 10 against Cleveland. Mayo became the first Patriots player to go five consecutive games with 10-plus tackles since LB Ted Johnson had 10-plus tackles in five straight games in 1999. Mayo had 17 tackles at Miami (10/4), 19 vs. Baltimore (10/17), 12 at San Diego (10/24) and 17 vs. Minnesota (10/31). Today’€™s game was Mayo’€™s sixth game in 2010 with 10-plus tackles. He had 11 in the opener vs. Cincinnati (9/12).

MAYO ON HIGH TACKLE PACE AS HE GOES OVER 100 TACKLES FOR THE SEASON.
Mayo has 104 total tackles in 2010 and is on pace for a career high 208 total tackles. That number will be the highest since LB Clayton Weishuhn had 229 tackles in 1983. Mayo had 139 tackles as a rookie in 2008 and 114 in 2009 and with 104 tackles in 2010 he is the first Patriots player to have three consecutive 100-tackle seasons since Lawyer Milloy registered five straight 100-tackle seasons from 1997 through 2001.

WOODHEAD HAS CAREER HIGH 26-YARD RECEPTION
RB Danny Woodhead had a career-long 26-yard reception in the second quarter to help set up the Patriots first touchdown. His previous best was a 24-yard reception at Tampa Bay (12-13-09) when he was with the Jets. Woodhead finished the game nine rushing attempts for 54 yards and a 6.0-yard average and two receptions for 38 yards.

BRADY MOVES UP ALL-TIME TOUCHDOWN LIST
Tom Brady entered the Cleveland game tied with Jim Kelly for 17th place on the NFL’€™s All-Time Touchdown list with (237). His 2-yard touchdown pass to TE Aaron Hernandez moved him to sole possession of 17th place with 238 career touchdown passes and his 1-yard touchdown pass to Hernandez moved him into a 16th place tie with Len Dawson at 239 career touchdowns.

BRADY MOVES PAST UNITAS ON THE NFL’€™S ALL-TIME COMPLETION LIST
Tom Brady had 19 completions to move past Johnny Unitas (2,830) into 20th place on the NFL’€™s All-Time completion list with 2,838 completions.

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Snap Judgments: Browns 34, Patriots 14

11.07.10 at 4:54 pm ET
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The Browns humiliated the Patriots on Sunday, controlling the game from start to finish in a 34-14 final that was about exactly as close as the score indicated.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– The Patriots allowed Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis to look like Otto Graham and Jim Brown on Sunday.

McCoy, making his third career NFL start, was brilliant, completing 14-of-19 passes for 174 yards. McCoy demonstrated a terrific ability to make plays on the run, turning a couple of busted plays into first-down throws and rushing for a 16-yard TD in the third quarter (which featured a crushing block on Brandon Meriweather by Josh Cribbs). No quarterback has looked better against the Patriots in 2010 and it’s getting tougher and tougher to argue that Bill Belichick can get into the head of a young quarterback.

Hillis rushed for 181 yards (career high) and two TDs as he spent the great majority of the game running the ball right down the throat of the New England defensive line. He also caught three passes for 36 yards. Hillis — not Ray Rice, Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson or Adrian Peterson — is the first player to rush for over 100 yards vs. the Patriots this season. Hillis was great from start to finish, leaping over the defense for an 18-yard rush on his first rush and putting the game on ice with a 35-yard TD run to put the Browns up 34-14 with 2:38 left in the fourth quarter.

– It was the worst special games performance of the season on Sunday, as a group that has been a huge plus for the Patriots in 2010 made several critical mistakes. Following a first-quarter 38-yard field goal from Phil Dawson to open the scoring, Rob Gronkowski appeared to signal a fair catch on a short Dawson kickoff, but moved away from the ball right before it landed. Sammy Morris tried to get his hands on the ball after it landed, but fumbled (recovered by former Patriots DB Ray Ventrone) at the 19-yard line. The Browns took advantage of the short field with a two-play TD drive.

Zoltan Mesko nearly had a punt blocked in the second quarter (the punt traveled just 27 yards) and Jake Ingram had his third terrible snap in as many weeks on another punt. Stephen Gostkowski also left the game with a thigh injury, which meant Wes Welker had to handle extra-point (lefty) and kickoff duties.

– Rough day for Gronkowski, who was at fault on the kickoff fumble and then made the critical mistake of the game, fumbling at the Cleveland two-yard-line at the end of first half. Gronkowski was trying to work to get into the end zone when he was stripped, costing the Patriots at least three points (a TD would have made it a 17-14 game). The rookie tight end also had a couple of first-quarter drops.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Aaron Hernandez caught his first and second career TDs, a two-yard reception that appeared to bounce off the facemask of Gronkowski (no need for a replay, CBS?) in the second quarter and a one-yard fade grab in the fourth quarter. Hernandez had been quiet the past few weeks but had five catches for 48 yards Sunday.

Danny Woodhead was able to do what BenJarvus Green-Ellis (nine carries, 14 yards) was unable to do on Sunday: Find holes in the Cleveland defense. Woodhead was the primary back for the entire second half (save for one failed Green-Ellis goal-line rush in the fourth quarter) and was on the field for both TD drives. He finished the game with nine carries for 54 yards and a pair of catches for 38 yards.

Tom Brady moved ahead of Jim Kelly and into sole possession of 17th place in NFL history with his first-half TD pass to Hernandez, the 238th of his career.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Browns, colt mccoy

Halftime Analysis: Browns 17, Patriots 7

11.07.10 at 3:29 pm ET
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Through the first two quarters, the Browns have been superior to the Patriots in all three phases of the game. With precious few exceptions, Cleveland has pretty much dominated on the way to a 17-7 lead at halftime.

Stat leaders: Tom Brady was 10-for-17 for 133 yards and a touchdown, while Danny Woodhead has five carries for 22 yards and Aaron Hernandez has two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. On the other side, Colt McCoy is 9-for-16 for 106 yards, while Peyton Hillis has 11 carries for 73 yards and Mohamed Massaquoi has three catches for 50 yards.

The New England defense was unable to stop many aspects of the Cleveland offense, most notably Hillis, who had no problems throughout much of the first half. The Browns had a field goal on their opening drive, and put together a quick scoring sequence after the Patriots fumbled the ensuing kickoff to make it 10-0. New England answered with its first touchdown of the game, but the Browns then went into their back of tricks late in the first half when Josh Cribbs lined up at quarterback and handed the ball off to Chansi Stuckey, who was lined up as a running back and hidden behind the offensive line that wasn’€™t set yet. Stuckey raced around left end and plunged into the end zone to make it 17-7 with 3:30 left in the first half.

The New England offense, which had just 21 yards in the first quarter, got things going early in the second quarter with an 11-play, 79-yard drive that included a successful fourth-and-one conversion on a sweet play-action pass play to running back Sammy Morris, who rumbled for 22 yards to set up a first-and-goal for the Patriots. New England cashed in with what was likely the finest catch of the season by rookie tight end Hernandez, who caught a ball in the back of the end zone that caromed off Rob Gronkowski. Hernandez went high for the ball, made the catch and came down with both feet inbounds for the touchdown with 8:48 left in the first half. The score was the first of the day for the Patriots, cutting the Cleveland lead to 10-7.

Jonathan Wilhite made a nice breakup on a pass intended for slot receiver Stuckey on the goal line, which forced the Browns to settle for a field goal. New England has been absolutely hammered by slot receivers this year, but through two quarters, they have been able to keep Stuckey mostly in check. Wilhite also had an impressive third-down tackle on Stuckey early in the second quarter that forced a Cleveland punt.

The finest defensive play of the first half for the Patriots came roughly midway through the first quarter when New England cornerback Devin McCourty stripped Hillis at the end of a long run. The ball was knocked away and Brandon Meriweather came away with it.

The Patriots have struggled mightily on special teams through the first two quarters, submitting their worst half of football on the season. After a 38-yard field goal from Phil Dawson to open the scoring, Dawson kicked it short, and it appeared that Gronkowski and Morris had a miscommunication and the ball squirted free. Former New England defensive back Ray ‘€œBubba’€ Ventrone recovered the fumble for the Browns, who scored two plays later when Hillis punched it in from two yards out to make it 10-0 with 11:11 left in the first quarter. And later on, New England punter Zoltan Mesko nearly had his first punt of the afternoon blocked.

It was an awful start for Gronkowski, who dropped a couple of tough balls early and had another catchable ball go off his hands later in the first quarter. In addition ‘€” and we’€™ll have to check the tape on this one ‘€” it appears he might have been at fault for the miscommunication on the kickoff that led to the turnover. He also had a fumble late in the first half with the Patriots knocking on the door for their second touchdown of the day. An all-around stinker for the rookie out of Arizona.

Read More: Browns, halftime, Patriots,

Patriots-Browns final notes

11.07.10 at 1:04 pm ET
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As the Patriots take on the Browns at the creatively-named Cleveland Browns Stadium, consider:

Weather – which after mid-October is always something to consider – shouldn’t be an issue. It’s a chilly 41 degrees but a mix of sun and clouds are in the forecast for the afternoon on the shores of Lake Erie. And the wind is coming out of south at 12 miles an hour, not blowing in out of the north and the Lake. That’s a big deal when you’re talking football in Northeast Ohio after Nov. 1.

Patriots are in search of their sixth straight win and stand alone atop of the entire NFL with an 6-1 record.

All of this as the Patriots head into their traditional strength – winning in the second half of the season. They are 75-22 (.773) after Nov. 1, including the postseason.

With wins already at home over the Bengals and Ravens, the Patriots are 14-2 all-time against the AFC North. They have road games today against the Browns and next Sunday night at Pittsburgh. They haven’t lost to the new incarnation of the Browns since 2000 (Bill Belichick’s first season in New England). The Patriots have won four straight in the series and 6-of-7 in the series. And to think the Patriots were once 3-11 in the series.

Colt McCoy, the rookie QB out of Texas, is getting his third straight and is coming off his first NFL win, a victory he’ll always remember since he beat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on the road. A big reason McCoy won the game, though, was linebacker David Bowens, who returned a pair of Drew Brees‘ interceptions for touchdowns.

Bill Belichick faces off against his former defensive coordinator Eric Mangini for the eighth time but the first time with Mangenuis as the head coach of the Browns. Belichick is 5-2 all-time, including a win in the wild-card playoffs in 2006.

Belichick was 36-44 in Cleveland, but did have last playoff win in Cleveland [Baltiimore Ravens version] when he beat… the Patriots on New Year’s Day 1995 at old Municipal Stadium.

This is the Ventrone Bowl. Former Patriots safety and special teamer Ray Ventrone, who recovered a Sammy Morris fumble in the first quarter, has the honor of the hardest hit ever in a Super Bowl. Don’t believe it? Ask Domenik Hixon of the Giants about Super Bowl XLII. His brother Ross is a DB on the Patriots practice squad. Both went to Villanova.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Cleveland Browns, colt mccoy, Eric Mangini

Analysis of Patriots Inactives

11.07.10 at 12:48 pm ET
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The following players were listed as inactive for the Patriots for Sunday’s game against the Browns: safety Pat Chung, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, wide receiver Taylor Price, defensive lineman Kyle Love, offensive lineman Mark LeVoir, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, running back Fred Taylor and safety Jarrad Page.

With the return of Logan Mankins, there are a few surprises in the list of inactives, particularly the placement of Wendell on in the inactive list and the inclusion of Ojinnaka among the active players. Wendell had been the No. 1 backup among the interior linemen, but it appears that at least right now, he has been displaced by Ojinnaka, a veteran who has played guard, center and tackle, has been inactive more often than not through the first seven weeks of the season. Ojinnaka’s versatility also may have allowed the Patriots to include LeVoir ‘€” someone who has played both left and right tackle ‘€” on the inactive list.

The only other minor surprise comes with the inclusion of wide receiver Deion Branch among the active players ‘€” the veteran has been battling a hamstring issue over the last two weeks. The rest of the inactives ‘€” Chung, Ohrnberger, Price, Love, LeVoir, Taylor and Page ‘€” are no surprises when you consider injury history (Chung, Page and Taylor) and their overall inexperience (Love and Price).

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Pats-Browns inactives: Chung, Page again out

11.07.10 at 12:36 pm ET
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The Patriots will be without safety Patrick Chung again on Sunday, missing his second straight game with a sore knee. Chung injured the knee in the first half against San Diego two weeks ago.

Also inactive for the Patriots are OL Rich Ohrnberger, DL Kyle Love, S Jarrad Page (calf), RB Fred Taylor (toe), WR Taylor Price and C Ryan Wendell.

Left guard Logan Mankins is active for the game, five days after ending his contract dispute with the Patriots and reporting to the team.

For the Browns, QB Seneca Wallace (ankle), QB Jake Delhomme (ankle), RB Thomas Clayton, OL Steve Vallos, OL John St. Clair, TE Alex Smith, WR Demetrius Williams and DL Jayme Mitchell.

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Fred Taylor, Jarrad Page, Logan Mankins

Patrick Chung downgraded to out for Sunday’s game

11.06.10 at 9:44 pm ET
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The Patriots have downgraded safety Patrick Chung to out, and the second-year player out of Oregon will be one of eight players who will be designated as inactive for Sunday’s game against the Browns, the team announced Saturday night. With the decision to sit him down, Chung, who suffered a bruised knee last month against the Chargers, will now have sat for two straight games ‘€” he missed last week’s game against the Vikings as well.

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