By Alex MacDougall
BU News Service
Before the 2019 regular season started, much was said about the Cleveland Browns by many commentators in the sports media. The acquisition of star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants, combined with the return of Quarterback Baker Mayfield, who had a phenomenal rookie season last year for the Browns, many projected the Browns to have a great season and break their long drought of not reaching the playoffs.
The pundits, however, forgot about just one thing: they’re the Cleveland Browns.
Against the Patriots on Friday, the Browns showed why, despite the big-name additions and plenty of hype, they remain the butt-end of many jokes around the league.
Unlike last week’s steamrolling of the Jets, the Browns weren’t overwhelmed by the Patriots with sheer force. They actually did quite a good job of stopping Tom Brady’s offensive attack, and managed an offensive touchdown in the first half– not an easy feat against this Patriots’ defense.
Rather, it was a series of costly and idiotic blunders which led to the Browns’ downfall.
In the first quarter, the Patriots had managed to get a field goal to take a 3-0 lead. On the Brown’s ensuing drive, running back Nick Chubb fumbled the ball, which was returned for a touchdown by the Patriots’ Don’t’a Hightower.
The next play for the Browns following the score, Chubb responded with a strong, impressive run – which ended in another fumble that was recovered by the Patriots. As if this wasn’t embarrassing enough, the Browns managed to then turn it over for a third consecutive time, on a Baker Mayfield shovel pass that was snatched up by the Pats’ defensive tackle Lawrence Guy.
Two plays later, the Patriots had scored again to give them a 17-0 lead before the end of the first quarter. These extraordinary screw-ups would create simply too much of a burden for the Browns to overcome. The Patriots would win the game 27-13, a margin of 14 points which may not have happened if not for the Browns’ comedy of errors.
With the victory, the Patriots are halfway done with the season, and retain a perfect 8-0 record, with only one other team in the league, the San Francisco 49ers, matching that record. With eight more games left to play, it’s safe to say this team remains strong favorites to win it all again.
But there’s a larger question looming, one that fans are keeping in the back of their minds: Can this team go undefeated? The Patriots face a serious test next week against the Baltimore Ravens, who are led by quarterback Lamar Jackson and have command of first place in the AFC North. If the Patriots can defeat them, then the idea of 16-0 is something to be taken seriously.