After playing four of their first six games of the 2013 regular season at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Cleveland Browns are on the road for three of their final four, starting with Sunday’s contest against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The Browns are 4-8 after a 32-28 loss at the Jacksonville Jaguars at FirstEnergy Stadium last Sunday. At 9-3 and with a three-game lead in the AFC East Division, the Patriots are on a two-game winning streak after a 34-31 victory over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium last weekend.
When the Browns and Patriots last played, Cleveland earned a 34-14 victory at then-Cleveland Browns Stadium on Nov. 7, 2010. Former Browns running back Peyton Hillis ran for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, and quarterback Colt McCoy completed 14 of 19 attempts for 174 yards in the victory.
In that win, the Browns’ first over New England since a 19-11 decision on Nov. 12, 2000, the defense generated two fumbles and held Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to 52.8 percent completion and 224 yards.
The Browns are looking for back-to-back wins against the Patriots for the first time since the 1994 season, when they won, 13-6, on Nov. 6, 1994, and followed it up with a 20-13 playoff victory on Jan. 1, 1995. Both games were played at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
The Browns are 12-9-0 all-time against the Patriots, and 5-5-0 in road games. This will be the Browns’ fourth trip to New England since their return to the NFL in 1999, and the Patriots have won each of the previous three meetings.
As this year’s game unfolds, there are several things to keep an eye on:
Browns wide receiver
By gaining the 261 yards, Gordon bested the mark of 237 yards, which was one of the three records he tied or broke in a loss to the Steelers two weeks ago.
Gordon has gained 498 yards in the last two games, and 623 in the last three, both NFL records. And his back-to-back 200-yard receiving games are the first ever in league history.
Gordon now leads the team with 1,249 yards on 64 receptions and has scored seven touchdowns, the most on the team.
Despite missing the first two games of the year, Gordon is second in the league with the 1,249 yards, trailing only Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, who has gained 1,299 yards this season. Gordon leads the NFL with a 124.9 yards-per-game average, and his 19.5 yards-per-reception average ranks first among NFL receivers with at least 35 receptions. Since the start of the 2012 season, Gordon’s per-reception average of 18.0 is first among all NFL players. His 261 receiving yards against the Jaguars was the second-highest receiving total in the league this year.
With 41 yards against the Patriots, Gordon would break the franchise record of 1,289 receiving yards in a single-season, which was set by wide receiver Braylon Edwards during the 2007 season. With 100 yards receiving Sunday, Gordon will be the first Browns player ever to achieve the feat in four consecutive games.
Cleveland tight end
Cameron’s 63 receptions are the third-most and the 704 yards are fourth in the NFL among tight ends. He is tied for fourth in the league in scoring (36 points), is fourth among NFL tight ends with 35 first-down catches and is tied for first among tight ends with 21 third-down receptions.
The six touchdowns are tied for the second-most by a Browns tight end in a single season. Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome is the only Browns player who has more touchdowns in a single season than Cameron. Newsome accomplished the feat three times with a team-record nine touchdowns in 1979, and six each in 1981 and 1983.
Browns Pro Bowl left tackle
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Despite losing two of his top three targets from last year, Brady has again found a way to lead the Patriots to first place in the AFC East Division. Even while his current crop of wide receivers have battled injuries throughout the year, Brady has completed 286 of 471 attempts (60.7 percent) for 3,267 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions this season.
New England wide receiver Julian Edelman. The former Kent State University quarterback has turned in a career year with 711 receiving yards and is tied for the team lead with four touchdown receptions on 70 catches.
Prior to 2013, Edelman had 69 career catches for 714 yards and four scores over his previous four years with the Patriots.
In addition to his production on offense, Edelman has averaged 11.6 yards on 30 punt returns.
Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones. The brother of UFC light-heavyweight champion, Jon “Bones” Jones has been an impact player for a Patriots defense that lost its starting nose tackle, Vince Wilfork, and middle linebacker, Jerod Mayo, for the season because of injuries.
Jones leads the Patriots with 10.5 sacks, and has totaled 65 total tackles, including 33 solo stops.
Next week, the Browns return home for the final game of the season at FirstEnergy Stadium, as they host the Chicago Bears of the NFC North Division. The Patriots hit the road for back-to-back games against the Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens before ending the regular season at home against the Buffalo Bills.
Browns defensive lineman
Browns defensive line coach Joe Cullen played nose guard for the University of Massachusetts (1986-89), and later coached with the team, first guiding the running backs (1990), and then, the defensive line (1991).
New England practice squad offensive lineman Braxston Cave was signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent, and spent training camp with the team in 2013.
Patriots running back James Develin (Dublin), defensive back Nate Ebner (Dublin), and offensive lineman Josh Kline (Mason) are Ohio natives.
Ebner (The Ohio State University), Kline (Kent State), defensive tackle Chris Jones (Bowling Green State University), wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (University of Cincinnati), and Julian Edelman (Kent State) went to college in Ohio.
Running back Brandon Bolden’s grandfather, Frank Pitts, played wide receiver for the Browns from 1971-73.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick compiled a 36-44 record as head coach of the Browns from 1991 to 1995. He took the Browns to the playoffs in 1994, just four seasons removed from a 3-13 finish under Bud Carson and Jim Shofner.
Patriots linebackers coach Thomas “Pepper” Johnson played with the Browns from 1993 to 1995, amassing 5.5 quarterback sacks and two interceptions during his time in Cleveland. Johnson also played his college football at Ohio State.
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels grew up in Barberton, Ohio, and played football at Canton McKinley High School before starring at John Carroll University.
New England special teams coach Scott O’Brien held the same position with the Browns from 1991-95, where the team led the NFL in special-teams scores (eight) and special-teams scores allowed (zero).
Patriots cornerback coach Josh Boyer is a native of Heath, Ohio, and graduated from Muskingum College. He has served as a graduate assistant at the University of Dayton (2001) and Kent State (2002-03).
Fans can watch Sunday’s game at 1 p.m./ET on local CBS affiliate, WOIO-TV 19 as Bill Macatee (play-by-play) and former NFL special-teams standout Steve Tasker (color analyst) call the action.
The game is also available along the PNC Bank Cleveland Browns Radio Network with Jim Donovan, former Browns left tackle Doug Dieken, and Jamir Howerton on the call.
“What to Watch For,” is presented by Arby’s. Try Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef Sandwich or the King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef & Swiss Sandwich today. Back for a limited time and only at Arby’s.