Despite two fumbles, Terry Glenn showed why there is just no answer to covering him. When he beat corner Daylon McCutcheon for a 54-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter, he had 13 receptions for 218 yards, Patriots single-game record in both categories.
It was also a fine game for another Ohio State product, Andy Katzenmoyer, who led all Patriots tacklers with 7.
Finally, Drew Bledsoe finished the day with 389 yards through the air as New England won their fourth straight game, 19-7.
It was not a pretty performance and it leaves New England yet to put 60 minutes of solid football together in one game.
After a horrendous first half (more on that later), New England put together a 12-play touchdown drive to begin the second half and took their first lead of the game at 13-7. On third and 2 from the Browns 43, Troy Brown had a spectacular second-effort play. He caught the ball around 5 yards from scrimmage and took it another 25, down to the Browns 27. The Patriots ground game took over and eventually pounded it into the end zone on a 3-yard Terry Allen run around left end.
That drive did not put an end to the sloppy play and dumb mistakes by either team. The Browns continually blew every chance the Patriots gave them with penalties and poor execution. As a result, the seven points by the Patriots was the third quarter's lone score.
The extra point was notable as Adam Vinatieri broke Gino Cappelletti's consecutive PAT record of 105. The Patriots had their first lead at 13-7.
The only other score of the second half came on the Glenn touchdown (New England tried and failed a 2-point conversion).
The first half was highlighted more by misplays than big plays.
The biggest one seemed to be made by the replay officials. In the first of two Glenn fumbles of the half, Head Coach Pete Carroll questioned whether Browns recoverer Ryan McNeil was in bounds as he grabbed the loose ball. The replay clearly showed he had one hand out of bounds but the officials refused to overturn the call after their deliberation.
That play was indicative of the type of play throughout the half. Each team took turns either shooting themselves in the foot or simply not taking advantage of opportunities.
After what should have been a big momentum builder, the Browns did nothing. The Patriots defense held them to three and out after the turnover on good penetration by Henry Thomas on one play and Chad Eaton on another.
The battle for field position had been tilting in New England's favor and when they took over on their last possession of the half, they did so at the Cleveland 48. Passes to Glenn (three for 27 yards) and Tony Simmons and a nice 12-yard run by Terry Allen had them at the Cleveland 3-yard line with a first down. Good pressure from the Browns defense forced two Bledsoe incompletions and the Patriots settled for a 21-yard field goal to close to one point at 7-6. Not the results or the halftime score New England expected.
The Patriots began the string of poor first half play with the first Terry Glenn fumble just when it looked like New England would start its scoring. Bledsoe had connected with Shawn Jefferson on a nice 32-yard pass to put New England on the Browns 40. Allen ran for a yard, then Glenn caught one on the Cleveland 27 where he was stripped of the ball.
Cleveland could not take advantage of the miscue, however. They in turn drove down to the New England 21 where kicker Phil Dawson barely missed a 38-yard field goal.
Cleveland did score after New England's next drive. It only took them two plays – a no gainer by Terry Kirby and an 85-yard catch and run by Kevin Johnson. On the play, linebacker Tedy Bruschi played run as Browns quarterback Tim Couch threw over him. Ty Law slipped and Steve Israel got completely destroyed by a block, opening up the sideline for Kevin Johnson and the first touchdown of the game.
New England's first score came on an 11-play, 67-yard drive that ended with an Adam Vinatieri 23-yard field goal. Bledsoe faced a fourth and 8 situation that Carroll elected to go for from the Browns 34-yard line. He found Troy Brown in the middle of the field for 12 yards to keep the drive alive.
With the win, the Patriots upped their unbeaten record to 4-0 and travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs next week