New England Patriots

Patriots Bombard Browns for Fourth Straight Win

Mac Jones had the first three-touchdown game of his career, in addition to a career-low four incompletions

USA Today

Many people have taken to comparing this year's version of the Patriots to the 2001 team with a young Tom Brady in recent weeks.

There's really no similarities between the two, because these Patriots are suddenly blowing doors off opponents in a way the team of two decades ago almost never did.

New England's latest triumph, a 45-7 decision over a fellow AFC contender in the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium, just might be its finest hour yet in 2021.

The Patriots have now won five of their last six games, true, but this one still hits different.

It's OK to admit that Mac Jones wasn't great in either of New England's last two wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers, respectively. Today, against the Browns? Jones had the finest game of his young career, completing 19 of 23 passes for a modest 198 yards but with a career-high three touchdown passes and most importantly, no interceptions. The four incompletions were also a career-low.

The chemistry between Jones and free agent signing Hunter Henry could never replicate that of two former Patriots now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but with two touchdown grabs today, Henry now has seven in as many games.

Jones even orchestrated the longest touchdown drive of the Bill Belichick era, a 9 minute, 39 second masterpiece which culminated with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Henry with 26 seconds left in the first quarter, tying the game at 7-7.

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Kyle Dugger -- another emerging youngster on the Patriots -- picked off Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield on the following Cleveland drive, effectively ending any chance the Browns had of hanging around Sunday.

New England scored on its first play back on offense, a 5-yard touchdown run from rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, to take the lead for good against Belichick's former employers, 14-7.

Stevenson, a fourth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma in April, had a career day of his own with an even 100 yards rushing on 20 carries, scoring two touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career. In addition to his 5-yard run in the second quarter, Stevenson capped off an eight-play, 92-yard scoring drive in the third quarter with a 2-yard run to extend the Patriots' lead to 31-7.

Jones had a 23-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne in the second quarter, the final play of a 99-yard scoring drive for New England -- its longest in 10 years -- to extend its lead to 21-7.

A Nick Folk field goal prior to halftime made it 24-7.

Henry's second touchdown grab, also from 3 yards out, pushed the advantage to 38-7 -- so steep that Brian Hoyer replaced Jones with more than 8 minutes to go in regulation.

But rather than play it cautious, Hoyer got to fling it, so much so that it was he -- not Brady, Jones or Cam Newton -- who finally found Jakobi Meyers for his first NFL touchdown, an 11-yard strike with 4:13 remaining in regulation.

The Patriots, suddenly at 6-4 and in strong position for at the very least a wild-card berth in a crowded AFC playoff picture, will face the Atlanta Falcons in a rematch of Super Bowl LI on Thursday Night Football this week. In addition to the connections with the Falcons, the site of the game is also that of New England's most recent Super Bowl victory, a 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams to end the 2018 season.

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