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Exposed! ‘D’ falters in loss

It’s tough to find positives in a game like yesterday’s. But here’s one: Coaches don’t get soaked with Gatorade after wins over a mediocre team.

Patriots 14, Browns 34

What went right for the Pats ...


1 It’s the little things — It’s tough to find positives in a game like yesterday’s. But here’s one: Coaches don’t get soaked with Gatorade after wins over a mediocre team. However bad this one game was, don’t forget how good the Patriots are (could be?).

2 Nice pick — TE Aaron Hernandez reportedly slipped to the Patriots in April’s draft because he failed tests for marijuana while at Florida. It’s good for New England, then, that Bill Belichick doesn’t let such matters cloud his judgment. The first real weapon the Pats have had at the position in years, Hernandez is a strong contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year after a five-catch, 48-yard, two-touchdown performance.

3 Is there anything he can’t do?
— Wes Welker stepped into the K role after Stephen Gostkowski went down with a thigh injury yesterday, hitting an extra point to bring the Patriots within 13 points late in the fourth quarter. So here’s what New England has in Welker: one of the top possession WRs in the game, a guy who’s tough enough to come back from knee surgery ... and a kicker. Sweet.

... and what went wrong

1 Can’t stop ... Hillis? — The Patriots came into the game giving up a solid 101.6 ypg on the ground. Somehow, Peyton Hillis lit them up for 184 on 29 carries yesterday. This was a failure everywhere, from the D-line to the LBs to the secondary. Nobody was good.

2 Early mistakes — Having the best record in the league is a double-edged sword. On the good side (naturally) is the fact the Pats had the best record in the league. On the bad side is the fact they came into a game against a rested team with a target on their back. Sammy?Morris’ giveaway with 11:49 left in the first quarter opened the door way too wide for the Browns. Unfortunately, they walked through.

3 Controlled — It’s pretty rare, in recent years, that the Patriots haven’t had control of the game. Yesterday was definitely an example. By running often and choosing smart passes?(Colt McCoy went 14-for-19 and didn’t throw a pick), Cleveland absolutely dominated time of possession. The Browns had the ball for 38:08 to New England’s anemic 21:52.
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