Two big plays keyed Patriots victory

Andy Hart
October 28, 2019 - 8:24 am
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Bill Belichick’s team has been making big plays at various complementary points in games all season long. It’s a big part of how the team has gotten to 8-0.

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Sunday evening in the 27-13 wet weather win over the Browns at Gillette Stadium a pair of key big plays – one on defense and the latter by the fledgling passing attack – catapulted the Patriots to their eighth victory of the season and took away the talented visitor’s hopes for an upset.

As has so often been the case this fall, the first big play came via the defense during a three-turnover series on three plays in the first quarter in which Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and the Browns offense dug a hole they never could quite climb out of.

With the Patriots leading 10-0 after Dont’a Hightower’s scoop-and-score 26-yard touchdown off a Chubb fumble, the productive young back burst through the New England defense for a 44-yard run. It looked like the type of play that would jumpstart the Browns offense to give the team a shot to make a game of their visit to Foxborough.

But as Chubb’s run reached the red zone, Jonathan Jones displayed his elite speed and effort to chase down the big-play back, knock the ball out from behind and give Devin McCourty at chance for a recovery at the Patriots 4-yard line.

“J. Jones is one of the fastest guys in the locker room. So, I felt him coming from my right. He did a great job,” McCourty said. “That’s something as DB’s I think we all think about. When we’re running, we know we can catch guys from behind. And when you did that, he did a great job of ball awareness.”

“That was a great play,” Bill Belichick raved. “Jon's really fast. He plays with great effort all of the time and he's made so many big plays for us in the four years that he's been here. That was a tremendous play.”

“It was just hustling. This whole defense hustles, flying around to the ball, and everybody is accountable to each everybody. So when we’re out there we give 100-percent effort to get to the ball,” Jones explained.

That play helped the Patriots hold a 17-7 advantage at halftime, but to their credit the Browns hung in the game into the second half. Cleveland drove to a field goal to open the third quarter to pull within a score and put a little pressure on the home squad.

After two incompletions on their ensuing possession, Brady and Co. faced third-and-10 on their own 16. A three-and-out would give even more life to the Browns and likely good field position with which to continue their comeback attempt in the improving weather conditions.

But that’s when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called for a screen that was perfectly executed not only by James White, but by the offensive line, for a 59-yard catch-and-run gain that flipped the field and set up Julian Edelman’s second touchdown of the evening a few snaps later.

Just when it looked like momentum might have jumped to the Browns sideline, White made sure that didn’t happen.

“It was a great call,” Belichick said. “They were in man coverage and the linebacker got picked off going across the field on the screen and James made a great run. We had some good downfield blocking, too, that probably added another 15-20 yards, I don't know, to it, something like that. It was well executed. We've worked hard on the screen game all year and we've had some big plays on it. Certainly that was a big one at a key time in the game.”

“It was a great call by Josh and great execution by the o-line, and James is a great screen runner. So, just a great play, good timing,” Brady said.

Two big plays in key moments. Two success stories for the Patriots.

Another complementary victory for an 8-0 football team cruising into the second half of the season.

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