Give the Browns credit, they kept it close into the second half.
An unfathomable series of events in the first quarter doomed Cleveland from the get-go though, the preseason all-hype team the latest to waltz into Foxboro and get thumped, this time in a 27-13 decision which has New England 8-0 at the halfway point of the season.
The Browns (2-5) turned the ball over on three consecutive plays in the first 15 minutes at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, two of which led to Patriot touchdowns.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Already down 3-0 after a Mike Nugent 20-yard field goal, running back Nick Chubb lost the ball via friendly fire, a Browns lineman inadvertently knocking the ball loose from Chubb with his foot. Dont’a Hightower scooped the ball and scored for his first touchdown since the very first game of his career in Week 1 of the 2012 season.
Back with the ball, Chubb broke free for a 44-yard gain...only to be tracked down by Jonathan Jones, who channeled his inner Ben Watson downfield and jar the ball loose. Devin McCourty recovered the fumble.
While the Patriots proceeded to punt on their next possession, the Browns weren’t done with their charitable ways. Baker Mayfield flipped a short pass in the backfield intended for Jarvis Landry, but was instead picked off by defensive tackle Lawrence Guy.
The interception, the first of Guy’s career, was the 19th this season for New England -- one more than the team had in 16 regular season games last year. Two plays later, Tom Brady connected with Julian Edelman for the first of two touchdown passes on the afternoon.
Trailing 17-0 after a quarter, Mayfield got the Browns on the scoreboard with 7:44 to go in the second with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Harris. Cleveland made it a one-score game on an Austin Seibert 38-yard field goal to open the second half, but couldn’t get out of its own way thanks to unnecessary penalty after unnecessary penalty and a pair of laughable challenge flags tossed by coach Freddie Kitchens.
The Browns were flagged 13 times for 85 yards, compared with just four for 32 for the Patriots.
Edelman’s second touchdown reception, which came with 6:11 to go in the third, was the 34th he’s caught from Brady, matching him with Wes Welker for third all-time. Only Rob Gronkowski (78) and Randy Moss (39) have caught more touchdowns from Brady.
New England, which is now halfway to 16-0 for the third time under Bill Belichick (2007, 2015) travels to Baltimore next for a matchup on Sunday Night Football, which can be seen on NBC 10 Boston at 8:20 p.m.