Still hard to believe that happened. I mean seriously: did that really happen? I muted the game at 26-14, and still haven't fully shaken the feeling of that moment: Gronk's knee destroyed, getting blown out at home to the Browns, both offense and defense looking terrible.
I thought the game would be closer than many, but I didn't expect... whatever the hell that was.
3 Up: (Hard to even write this section given how poorly most of the team played for 58 minutes)
- Gostowski: As others have said, he's been one of the most valuable players on the roster this year. To drill a 50-yarder in that weather (before even talking about the perfectly executed onsides kick) was stunning.
- Vereen and Edelman: Both were reliable and sure-handed. If the Patriots are to have any chance at winning 3 games in January, they'll need to continue to play like that.
- Siliga: The Jones/Vellano combo simply wasn't playing at an NFL level, and out-of-nowhere Siliga started 2-gapping like a legitimate NFL starter yesterday. Stout DT play is desperately needed on the Patriots defense, and Siliga's performance was one of the few highlights on that side of the ball.
- Matt Patricia/defensive game plan: I get that the defense is riddled with injuries. But that was a terrible performance in the 2nd half (not to mention the "too many men on the field," another sign of a defense in trouble). Allowing Jason Campbell to throw for 391 yards is terrible, but forcing a hobbled Talib into single coverage on Josh Gordon is inexcusable.
- Josh McDaniels/offensive game plan: Especially after the Cardinals game last year he should have known what was coming and adjusted to it. Instead, he repeated his mistakes, waiting far too long to start spreading out the Browns and using Vereen's mismatch against their LBs.
- Offensive line: Svitek and Solder just don't have the technique to handle edge rushers. Again and again the Patriots had to settle for FGs because the offensive line would collapse on a crucial 3rd down. Now, with Gronkowski's blocking gone, their task is even taller.