Browns coach Hue Jackson figured the Patriots would try and take his team's run game away. [
He was right.
"I knew they were going to do to everything they could to stop it," Jackson said postgame, "and they did."
Indeed, New England shut down Cleveland's top-ranked run game Sunday in a 33-13 loss in which the Patriots flexed their muscles behind quarterback Tom Brady and a stingy defensive effort.
The Patriots held the Browns to 27 rushing yards on 22 carries. They also took away running lanes for running back Isaiah Crowell, who led the league in yards per carry coming into the game but was unable to do much against a front that clogged up the middle.
"They loaded up to stop it," Jackson said. "We have to do better."
The Patriots featured "kind of a blanket front," left guard Joel Bitonio said.
"It took away some of our double teams and things like that, and they did a good job. They outplayed us today in the run game for sure, and it's unfortunate because we wanted to run the ball, but they did a good job stopping it," he said. "We have to come back and get better and win some more one-on-one blocks."
Without the run game, which the Browns pointed to as an emerging offensive identity, Cleveland produced a season low of 262 total yards and struggled without quarterback Cody Kessler, who left the game with a chest/ribs injury late in the first quarter.
"They just executed better than we did," center John Greco said. "We know we're not going to sneak up on teams anymore by running the ball. Every team is going to try and stop our strength which in the first four games has been running the ball.
"So we just need to execute better. Going into next week, I think we need to be critical of ourselves tomorrow but then put it to bed. It's not like we have one or two games left. We still have a majority of the season left to play, so we need to get back to doing what we do well."
The Browns, who had previously gutted opponents on the ground for an average of 150 yards per game, will look to rebound against the Tennessee Titans this weekend and a run defense ranked 17th.
Jackson said he was disappointed Sunday "because I think we can do it a little bit better than what we did" against New England.
But "they slowed us down like no team has this season," he continued, "so we have to go back to the drawing board. I take responsibility for that. We have to get that part better, and we will."