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Last-minute issues spoil effort

Posted Dec 8, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Cleveland Browns allowed the New England Patriots to score 13 points in the game’s final minutes, and that led to a 27-26 loss at Gillette Stadium.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Cleveland Browns learned a difficult lesson against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium Sunday.

And the lesson is that no matter how much of a lead a team has over the Patriots, with quarterback Tom Brady running the offense and Bill Belichick coaching from the sidelines, no advantage is safe until the clock runs out.

Up by 12 points with 2:39 to play, the Browns allowed New England to score 13 unanswered points to claim a 27-26 win.

“It’s tough to win here,” Browns quarterback Jason Campbell said. “It’s definitely tough to win here, and there are reasons for that. They have a great coach, a great quarterback, and they’re reigning (AFC East Division) champs for a lot of years. It’s a tough place to come in and win.

“I feel like with two minutes left in the game, we could close this thing out. That would’ve been a huge, giant step for us. There’s going to be different opinions about what happened, but we’ll watch the tape and see what we can improve on.”

Campbell said it would have been a special win because he felt the Browns were counted out by everyone except the 53 players in the locker room and their coaches.

“That’s what made it a good opportunity,” Campbell said. “If you want to get recognition and respect, you have to earn it, and what better opportunity than to play against a team like this at their home field?

“The past two weeks, and three of the past five games going back to the Kansas City game and the way we lost that game, we’re so close to being a 7-6 team, and we’re a 4-9 team. Those three games were so close. Like (Browns coach Rob Chudzinski) said, we’ve got to keep working, just keep fighting. I’m proud of this team. We showed a lot of resilience. With the team fighting these next three games, there won’t be any giving up.”

Although he completed 29 of 44 attempts for 391 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover, Campbell shouldered some of the blame during his postgame press conference.

“If I hit some of those easier throws earlier in the game, maybe we’re not in that position,” Campbell said, flatly.

While he struggled early in the game, completing seven of 19 attempts for 95 yards with an interception in the first half, Brady engineered scoring drives of 82 and 40 yards, respectively, and capped off both possessions with touchdown passes to close out the come-from-behind win.

“He’s a great player, and they’re a great team,” Chudzinski said. “We had our opportunity and weren’t able to close the game out like we wanted to. I feel strongly that they these types of experiences, these kinds of challenges says a lot about our team. We will grow from it and get better.”

Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson added, “That’s what makes him great. He’s a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, and you see the banners in the stadium, so you’re not out of it until the clock strikes zero. He made plays at the end. You’ve got to give them credit. They made the tough plays down the stretch.”

ONSIDE KICK

In-between Brady’s final two touchdown drives, the Patriots had to recover an onside kick with 1:01 to play in the game.

New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski teed up the football at midfield when Browns defensive back Jordan Poyer was flagged for unnecessary roughness on Brady’s two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington recovered the ball at the 40 and set up Brady’s final drive.

“My initial thought was that it might have glanced off one of the Patriots’ legs,” Chudzinski said. “I’m not sure we had an opportunity to get it. I’m not sure who it was in there. We had a chance to get in there and get it and they ended up with the ball.

“We had seen that. We had seen a number of kicks, ones that they kick to either side or down the middle, so we were prepared for it. It was a good kick, well executed by them. They had guys there and we just couldn’t come up with the ball.”

INJURY UPDATES

Chudzinski updated the media on injuries to offensive lineman John Greco (knee) and running back Willis McGahee (head), who both left the game early and did not return to action.

“(Greco) has a sprained knee,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll take a look at it when we get back. Willis has a concussion, so we’ll assess him as we go.”