The Browns had all the respect in the world for Tom Brady and the Patriots before and after Sunday's game. [
It just didn't make the feeling any better after what they experienced Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
For a second straight week, Cleveland's defense was on its heels from the start, as it surrendered touchdowns on three consecutive drives to open the game and allowed more than 400 yards to the four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback in Sunday's 33-13 loss.
Sunday marked the first time all season in which Cleveland trailed by multiple possessions throughout the entire second half. The Browns never led and only briefly had the game tied on a day in which Brady and the Patriots did what they've done to many teams over the past decade.
"I knew he potentially could. Not that he would, I knew he potentially could," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "Tom Brady is one of the best players in this league that probably ever played. Potentially, he can go do that not just to us, he has done it to a lot of people before. We all know that. It is disappointing it happened that way, but I'm not surprised by anything he does."
The Patriots did it without the benefit of a consistent running game, as New England averaged less than 3 yards per attempt and had only two runs go for double-digits. It was the Brady-led air attack that hurt the Browns on Sunday, and the focus was on the center of Cleveland's defense with the Patriots' two big tight ends.
Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett combined for 11 receptions, 176 yards and three touchdowns. Consistent intermediate passes to the tight end duo opened up the field and helped Brady connect on a handful of long passes, such as his 63-yard connection with Chris Hogan.
Brady finished 28-of-40 for 406 yards. He was sacked once by Jamie Meder in the third quarter.
"It's not a good feeling at all," defensive back Joe Haden said. "Especially being a defensive back, I don't like that. It sucks. We have got to figure out a way to fix it. It is what it is. He came in here and did his thing. We got to go back to the tape, watch it, and get better."
Cleveland's defense, which features a number of young players in all three phases, had moments of progress big and small in each of its first four games. Through the first month of the season, Browns defensive backs had as many interceptions as they did all last season (five) and a number of new faces were able to make an immediate impact as plug-and-play pass rushers.
The moments were harder to find Sunday, but the leaders of Cleveland's defense vowed to maintain high spirits as the group looks to rebound next week against the Tennessee Titans.
"We have got a job to do. They have got to believe in it," Haden said. "We have got to come in here we have got to figure out a way to get a win. I'm not changing, Joe T (OL Joe Thomas) is not changing, and the leaders on the team aren't changing. We keep going into practice every week. Had a great week of practice, a great week of preparation, that's all we can ask for.
"All we can ask them to do is keep coming in, keep working hard, keep watching the tape and just keep preparing."