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Cleveland at New England

Pats fourth team to open with five straight victories by at least 17 points

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have had plenty to celebrate this season. Junior Seau finally gave in to the temptation.

Now he's ready to pay the price.

In a move more suited to an 18-year-old college player than an 18-year veteran like Seau, he raised the ball high while returning an interception in Sunday's 34-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns, New England's fifth one-sided win in five games this season.

"It was a fun time and, obviously, I'm going to get reprimanded," Seau said.

He had two of New England's three interceptions and Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns, tying an NFL record with at least three in each of his first five games. The Patriots became the fourth team to start a season with five wins by at least 17 points, though Sunday's margin was their smallest.

Coach Bill Belichick, an anti-showboating advocate, finds mistakes to correct no matter how well the Patriots play. All he has to do this time is watch the play by Seau, who actually thought about lateraling.

"Coach wouldn't have liked that either," he said. "So I didn't want to have two whammies in one play."

Belichick, for the most part, loves Seau as a player.

"Junior adds a lot of energy to our defense," he said, but "I don't know what Junior is thinking sometimes."

Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow thinks the Patriots are the NFL's best team.

"They're great. It's obvious," he said. "They've won three Super Bowls."

They improved to 5-0 without a big contribution from Randy Moss, who entered the game as the NFL leader in yards receiving and total touchdowns. He had just three catches for 46 yards.

He was double-teamed most of the time, so Brady went to other receivers, throwing touchdown passes of 7 and 25 yards to Benjamin Watson and 34 yards to Donte' Stallworth.

Former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest wasn't excited about his return to his longtime home, especially after falling behind 20-0.

"Who wants to come back to a whupping?" he said as he signed one of his old Patriots jerseys for New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

The Patriots never trailed for the fourth game as they moved to 5-0 for the third time in club history.

It shouldn't be as easy when they visit Dallas next Sunday. But so far, they have been behind for just 12:36 this season -- and they followed that 7-3 deficit against Buffalo with 35 straight points in a 38-7 win.

The Browns (2-3) had shown promise after years of mediocrity. But they lost running back Jamal Lewis for the game with an injured right foot after he rushed for 11 yards on their first play. Wide receiver Joe Jurevicius hurt his knee. Coach Romeo Crennel gave no prognosis.

"The score affected our play calling more than anything," Crennel said.

The passing attack couldn't pick up the slack as Derek Anderson threw three interceptions in the first half, two on consecutive offensive plays by Cleveland, that led to 14 points.

Twice in the fourth quarter, the Browns cut the deficit to 10 points. And twice the Patriots came right back with touchdowns of their own.

"We always feel like it's tough to stop us unless we stop ourselves," Watson said.

Three plays after Seau's flamboyant interception return, Watson's joyous demonstration wasn't nearly as risky.

Wide open in the left flat, he caught Brady's pass at the 8-yard line, jumped at the 1 and landed in the end zone for the first of his two touchdowns. The extra point by Stephen Gostkowski, who had kicked field goals of 20 and 25 yards, made it 20-0 with 1:01 left in the half.

Later, Brady leaped into the burly arms of guard Logan Mankins after the 25-yard touchdown to Watson for a 27-10 lead just 4½ minutes after Anderson's 21-yard scoring pass to Tim Carter.

Brady didn't have to be as brilliant as he was in his first four games, when he completed 79.2 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and two interceptions. He was a mere 22-for-38 for 265 yards and no interceptions Sunday.

Sammy Morris, filling in for injured Laurence Maroney for the second straight game, gained 102 yards on 21 carries, one week after rushing for 117 yards.

More good news for the Patriots: Safety Rodney Harrison returned after a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, reportedly by using human growth hormone.

And, finally, cornerback Randall Gay stripped Winslow of a reception and returned the fumble 15 yards for a touchdown with 42 seconds left.

But Belichick is bound to find plenty of mistakes to dwell on.

"I guarantee you that he didn't wait until Monday," Seau said. "When we were walking off the field, he came and whispered in my ear."

Notes

  • The Patriots had scored in every quarter this season until being shut out in the third.
  • Jason Wright gained 59 yards in 15 carries in place of Lewis.
  • Brady wasn't sacked for the third game this season and has been sacked only three times.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Junior Seau sparks the New England defense with two first-half interceptions.
 
Junior Seau sparks the New England defense with two first-half interceptions. (AP)
 

 

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Sun. Oct. 7Final
0031417
101001434
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGStephen Gostkowski 20 Yd, 8:01. Drive: 14 plays, 78 yards in 6:59.
TDDonte' Stallworth, 34 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 2:33. Drive: 1 play, 34 yards in 0:11.
2ND QUARTER
FGStephen Gostkowski 25 Yd, 6:12. Drive: 8 plays, 44 yards in 4:17.
TDBenjamin Watson, 7 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 1:01. Drive: 3 plays, 25 yards in 0:46.
3RD QUARTER
FGPhil Dawson 42 Yd, 7:32. Drive: 8 plays, 56 yards in 3:28.
4TH QUARTER
TDTim Carter, 21 Yd pass from Derek Anderson (Phil Dawson kick is good), 14:10. Drive: 7 plays, 55 yards in 3:50.
TDBenjamin Watson, 25 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 9:40. Drive: 9 plays, 71 yards in 4:30.
TDKellen Winslow, 14 Yd pass from Derek Anderson (Phil Dawson kick is good), 5:56. Drive: 2 plays, 35 yards in 0:48.
TDRandall Gay, 15 Yd fumble return (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 0:42.
Players of the Game
New England

T. Brady
Att 38
Comp 22
Yds 265
TD 3

B. Edwards
Rec 6
Yds 110
Avg 18.3
TD 0
 
Cleveland
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
D. Anderson22/4328723
RushingATTYDSTDLG
J. Wright1559011
J. Cribbs111011
J. Lewis111011
D. Anderson3707
L. Vickers1404
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. Edwards6110036
T. Carter350121
K. Winslow449115
J. Wright443021
J. Jurevicius117017
S. Heiden21007
L. Vickers2805
New England
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
T. Brady22/3826530
RushingATTYDSTDLG
S. Morris21102013
K. Eckel616010
D. Stallworth112012
B. Watson111011
K. Faulk3605
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. Watson6107235
D. Stallworth465134
R. Moss346020
W. Welker41907
S. Morris2905
K. Brady1707
K. Faulk1707
J. Gaffney1505
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
DAL 25 Final
BUF 24
CHI 27 Final
GB 20
BAL 9 Final
SF 7
SD 41 Final
DEN 3
ARI 34 Final
STL 31
DET 3 Final
WAS 34
ATL 13 Final
TEN 20
SEA 0 Final
PIT 21
NYJ 24 Final
NYG 35
CAR 16 Final
NO 13
JAC 17 Final
KC 7
TB 14 Final
IND 33
MIA 19 Final
HOU 22