CLEVELAND – When the scoreboard clock finally showed zeros, Bill Belichick walked slowly across the torn-up field to meet Cleveland’s coach, his protege and estranged friend, amid a swarm of players and photographers.
Belichick found Eric Mangini, looked him in the eye and offered his hand.
It was time to concede defeat, one as thorough as any in recent memory.
“I congratulated him,” Belichick said.
It’s all he could do.
Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy scrambled for a touchdown and didn’t make any mistakes, Peyton Hillis ran for a career-high 184 yards and two TDs and the vastly improved Browns, using a little trickery and a ton of offensive imagination, pounded the Patriots 34-14 on Sunday.
Two weeks after stunning New Orleans, the Browns (3-5) pulled off another shocker. Well rested after their bye week, they ended New England’s five-game winning streak and did it decisively, outplaying one of the NFL’s top teams for 60 minutes.
“They did everything better than we did,” Belichick said. “In every single aspect, they clearly were the better team. We have a lot of work to do.”
The Patriots (6-2) were battered, baffled and beaten badly.
“We know we can beat anybody,” Browns wide receiver Joshua Cribbs said. “If you beat these supposedly best two teams in the league, it gives us confidence there isn’t one team in this league that we don’t think we can beat.”
It was particularly satisfying for Mangini, whose relationship with Belichick was damaged years ago when he left New England’s staff to coach the Jets and by the infamous “Spygate” episode. The two men ignored each other during pregame warmups, but had to meet afterward.
Mangini was asked what his mentor said.
“ ‘Good game.’ We were making plans for the summer,” he joked.
Browns 34, Patriots 14
Cle—FG Dawson 38
Cle—Hillis 2 run (Dawson kick)
NE—Hernandez 2 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick)
Cle—Stuckey 11 run (Dawson kick)
Cle—McCoy 16 run (Dawson kick)
Cle—FG Dawson 37
NE—Hernandez 1 pass from Brady (Welker kick)
Cle—Hillis 35 run (Dawson kick)
|Total Net Yards||283||404|
|Time of Poss.||21:52||38:08|
RUSHING—New England, Woodhead 9-54, Green-Ellis 9-14, Brady 1-1, Hoyer 1-(minus 1). Cleveland, Hillis 29-184, McCoy 3-20, Stuckey 1-11, Bell 6-7, Vickers 3-6, Cribbs 2-2.
PASSING—New England, Brady 19-36-0-224, Hoyer 0-2-1-0. Cleveland, McCoy 14-19-0-174.
RECEIVING—New England, Hernandez 5-48, Gronkowski 4-47, Welker 4-36, Woodhead 2-38, Branch 2-21, Morris 1-22, Tate 1-12. Cleveland, Massaquoi 4-58, Hillis 3-36, Cribbs 2-13, Stuckey 2-6, Watson 1-24, Robiskie 1-20, Moore 1-17.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.