FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts -- For the fourth consecutive week, the Patriots find themselves in the win column. New England cruised to 45-7 rout against the Cleveland Browns to move to 6-4 on the season. Out of the gate, the Browns were the ones who were able to strike first, traveling 84 yards on an 11-yard opening touchdown drive to go up 7-0. From there, however, it was all New England. The Patriots would respond immediately with a 15-play touchdown drive on their first possession, which then sparked a 45-0 run.
Safety Kyle Dugger was able to jump in front of a shortly thrown ball by Baker Mayfield on Cleveland's second possession of the game, and returned it deep into Browns territory where the Patriots would quickly rush for another score to go up 14-7. Following the initial touchdown drive, the Browns would throw that turnover and punt twice before walking into the locker room at the break, while the Patriots would score on each of their possessions over the first two quarters and take a 24-7 lead. In the second half, they continued to pour it on by wracking up 21 more points and running away with the victory.
Mac Jones finished his day by completing 19 of his 23 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns before handing the ball to Brian Hoyer midway through the fourth quarter. This was the first time in the rookie's young career where he's thrown for three touchdowns in a game. Two of those scores came through his blossoming connection with Hunter Henry, who caught all four of his targets from Jones for 37 yards. Rhamondre Stevenson filled in for the injured Damien Harris (concussion) and rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Mayfield -- who left this game in the second half due to a knee injury -- finished with 73 yards passing, a touchdown, and an interception.
For more on how this game unfolded, check out our takeaways below.
Why the Patriots won
You can't ask for a much better start to a game than what the Patriots' offense turned in on Sunday. Jones and Co. dropped 24 straight points before halftime, scoring on every single one of their possessions in the first half. New England was also 6 of 7 on third down in the opening two quarters (7 of 9 for the game). That ability to convert on the critical down helped the offense total three scoring drives that traveled over 90 yards. Meanwhile, the defense contained the Browns for the bulk of the afternoon, shutting them out for the final three quarters after allowing an opening touchdown. New England also played complementary football, most notably with Dugger's first-quarter interception that immediately was followed up by a Stevenson rushing touchdown.
Why the Browns lost
For a minute, it looked like we were going to have a competitive ball game on our hands after the Browns were able to score on their opening possession. However, Cleveland went silent after that initial drive and was shut out for the final three quarters. A big reason why the Browns struggled to put up points was due to their poor play on third down, converting just one of their 11 opportunities on the day. As the offense struggled to stack plays and move down the field, the defense had no answer for what the Patriots were bringing to the table offensively. They allowed 452 yards of total offense (7.3 yards per play) and six total touchdowns. Allowing that level of production is not going to win you many football games even if the offense is finding a groove.
On Cleveland's second possession of the game, Mayfield dropped back to pass on a third-and-7 attempt from his own 32-yard line. He was pressured up the middle and threw a pass into heavy traffic on the right sidelined. Dugger was able to jump in front of the shallow throw and make the interception. He returned it 37 yards to the Cleveland 5-yard line and the Patriots were able to immediately score on a short run by Stevenson (his first of three on the day). That interception broke a 7-7 tie and helped continue what would grow to be a 24-0 run to end the first half that effectively put the game out of reach as these clubs went into the break at halftime.
Play of the game
The Patriots' third scoring drive of the afternoon was without question their most impressive. After beginning the drive on their own 1-yard line, Jones and Co. would orchestrate a 99-yard touchdown drive that resulted in what is arguably the most impressive throw of Jones' season thus far. On a second-and-5 attempt from the Cleveland 23, Jones dropped back and delivered a 23-yard strike over the middle to Kendrick Bourne, who would leap up and beat two defenders to haul in the pass. On that drive, Jones completed 3 of 4 for 61 yards and that touchdown, which would put New England up by two scores.
From here, the Patriots will have a quick turnaround as they'll head to Atlanta to face the Falcons for a "Thursday Night Football" matchup to open up Week 11. Meanwhile, the Browns will head back to Cleveland to await the Detroit Lions.