FOXBORO, Mass. -- The Cleveland Browns played one of the worst first quarters you'll ever see in Sunday's 27-13 loss to the New England Patriots.
The Browns were shutout 17-0 and committed three turnovers in the opening 15 minutes. Despite all of that, Cleveland still had a chance to trim New England's lead to just a field goal by halftime.
Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense got the ball back on their own 16-yard line with 2:19 remaining in the first half. A well-executed two-minute drill could have resulted in a 17-14 halftime deficit and perhaps a much different outcome overall.
Cleveland picked up two first downs to begin the drive, then it gave up a sack and committed a false start penalty. The Browns never made it past their own 30-yard line and trailed 17-7 at the half.
"I mean, we're going up against a team that's statistically up there with the Chicago Bears, and all these other teams," Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. "It's not like we look into that, but this is a real defense. This is a very, very good team. ..."
The Browns continued to shoot themselves in the foot throughout the game. In addition to the three turnovers, Cleveland also committed 13 penalties and went 3-for-12 on third down. Beckham couldn't resist praising the Patriots after they capitalized on many of the Browns' mistakes.
"Not to give anybody too much praise, but we did just play the Patriots," Beckham admitted. "They haven't lost a game yet. This is a team that plays perfect, a team that doesn't beat themselves, a team that has few penalties, a team that's given up one passing touchdown. You know what I mean?"
Beckham didn't play poorly Sunday. He was targeted seven times and tallied five receptions for 52 yards. Given his elite skill set, the Browns should have targeted the veteran wideout more often, even if he was going up against the best cornerback in the league in Stephon Gilmore.
“I think (Gilmore is) great," Beckham said. "I think he’s All-Pro. I think he’s everything. But I just felt like we didn’t challenge as much as we could've. I think we kind of shied away from it. I was expecting and looking forward to it, but that wasn’t the case today. We had a couple plays, but for whatever reason we didn’t do as much challenging as the matchups that we all talked about, and all that. Other than that, whatever came my way, I pretty much caught. Whatever other opportunities I had, I made the most of them. But you can only control what you can control.”
The Browns' record now stands at 2-6 after this loss to the Patriots. The good news for Cleveland is the toughest part of its schedule is over, but the margin for error is about as thin as you can possibly get entering Week 9.
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