1:00 PM ET, December 8, 2013
Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Just about everything did.
Brady threw two touchdown passes and the Cleveland Browns committed two critical penalties in the final 61 seconds as the Patriots stormed to a 27-26 victory on Sunday.
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"That was awesome," Brady said, "pretty sweet."
The improbable rally salvaged a potentially costly day for the Patriots (10-3), who lost star tight end Rob Gronkowski to a suspected torn ACL in his right knee in the third quarter. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.
New England fell behind 19-3 when Jason Campbell connected with Josh Gordon for an 80-yard touchdown late in the third. Campbell's third scoring pass of the day, a 4-yarder to Jordan Cameron with 2:39 left in the game, made it 26-14.
That's when Brady engineered the impressive comeback that kept the Patriots in front in the race for the No. 2 playoff seed in the AFC. Had New England lost, Cincinnati would have moved into the second position.
"How many times has he done that in his career?" Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said after his team's seventh loss in eight games. "We had our opportunity and we weren't able to close the game out how we wanted to."
The Browns (4-9) had one last chance, but Billy Cundiff missed a 58-yard field goal attempt on the final play.
"We had to make just about every play that we made at the end today," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, "and, fortunately, we did."
The Patriots trailed at intermission for the fourth consecutive game and have won three of them. But this one may have been the toughest.
They cut the deficit to 26-21 on Edelman's touchdown. A 15-yard penalty against the Browns for unnecessary roughness on Edelman allowed the Patriots to kick off from the 50-yard line, rather than their 35.
Wild Week 14 Finishes
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• Reiss: Improbable is Patriots' hallmark
• McManamon: Late flags anger Browns
• Demovsky: Packers don't get rattled
• Walker: Dolphins are good, lucky
• Brown: Steelers nearly pull off miracle
• Sheridan: McCoy breaks Lions, record
• Rothstein: 'Soft' Lions lose late again
Those 15 yards became very significant when Kyle Arrington recovered the onside kick at the Cleveland 40. It was the first time since Jan. 1, 1995, in an AFC playoff game that the Patriots had recovered an onside kick. That also came against the Browns, who were coached by Belichick. And Belichick also won that game, 20-13.
Arrington recovered the kick after Cleveland's Fozzy Whittaker touched, but couldn't control, the ball.
"The ball's cold, so (it's) a little slippery for a guy," Arrington said. "Fortunately, it hit one of their guys first and I was just able to jump on it."
Brady began the winning drive with a 10-yard pass to Amendola. Then Leon McFadden was penalized for defensive pass interference against Josh Boyce in the end zone, putting the ball at the 1. McFadden and Chudzinski disagreed with the call.
"I felt like those two were both jostling for the ball," Chudzinski said. "It really doesn't matter what I think."
After Amendola's touchdown, the Browns moved to the Patriots 40 with 1 second left, but Cundiff's kick came up short.
"I have never been a part of a game like this," Browns cornerback Joe Haden said. "This one hurts for real."
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The late comeback ruined another brilliant game by Gordon, who had seven catches for 151 yards. It was the third time in four weeks that he scored on pass plays of more than 70 yards.
Gordon set an NFL record of 774 yards receiving in four consecutive games. Calvin Johnson set the previous mark of 746 this season. Gordon also set a single-season team record for yards receiving with 1,400. Braylon Edwards established the previous mark of 1,289 in 2007.
Gronkowski was hurt when hit by Cleveland safety T.J. Ward after a 21-yard completion. He missed the first six games of the season recovering from offseason surgeries on his left forearm and back. In his six full games after returning, he led NFL tight ends with 37 catches and 560 yards receiving.
"If I would have hit him up high, there's a chance I would get fined and all that other stuff. So, I'm just being safe," Ward said. "It's kind of being caught between a rock and a hard place."
NOTES: The Patriots trailed 6-0 at halftime on field goals of 43 and 37 yards by Cundiff. ... Brady completed 32 of 52 passes for 418 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. ... Campbell, who missed Cleveland's previous game with a concussion, was 29 for 44 for 391 yards. ... Patriots running back Shane Vereen caught 12 passes for 153 yards. He also scored on a 6-yard run.
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 8: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass before a game with the New...(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||7.1||6.3|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-3||3-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|FG||9:23||Billy Cundiff 43 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 10 plays, 47 yds, 5:42
|FG||14:50||Billy Cundiff 37 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 9 plays, 37 yds, 3:46
|TD||10:23||Gary Barnidge 40 Yard Pass From Jason Campbell (Chris Ogbonnaya Run For Two-Point Conversion is No Good)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 73 yds, 1:54
|FG||1:41||Stephen Gostkowski 33 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 11 plays, 68 yds, 3:46
|TD||1:37||Josh Gordon 80 Yard Pass From Jason Campbell (Billy Cundiff Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 80 yds, 0:12
|TD||0:09||Shane Vereen 6 Yard Run (Tom Brady Pass to Julian Edelman For Two-Point Conversion is Goo)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 72 yds, 1:19
|FG||5:48||Stephen Gostkowski 50 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 12 plays, 49 yds, 5:48
|TD||2:43||Jordan Cameron 4 Yard Pass From Jason Campbell (Billy Cundiff Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 3:04
|TD||1:04||Julian Edelman 2 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 82 yds, 1:38
|TD||0:35||Danny Amendola 1 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Shane Vereen Run For Two-Point Conversion is No Good)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 40 yds, 0:30
Based on expected points added -- which takes into account everything an offense does to move the ball and score points the Patriots offense contributed -1.9 expected points per game to the team's net scoring margin in 6 games without Rob Gronkowski (19th in the NFL). In 7 games since Gronkowski's return, the Patriots offensive EPA is +8.7 per game, 4th in the NFL.[+]
Patriots' Offense This Season
FROM ELIAS: The Patriots have won 3 straight games in which they trailed by double digits in the 2nd half. The last team to do that in one season was the 1993 Eagles (weeks 2-5), who had Randall Cunningham at QB.[+]
Patriots Last 3 Games in 2nd Half/OT
Jason Campbell torched the Patriots defense, especially when New England sent at least five rushers. Campbell was 9-of-11 for 205 yards and three touchdowns against the blitz, including 4-of-5 for 122 yards and an 80-yard touchdown targeting Josh Gordon.[+]
Patriots Pass Defense With 5+ Rushers, 2013
After Jason Campbell's touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron gave the Browns a 26-14 lead with 2:39 left, the Patriots win probability dropped to 2.0%. After Brady's touchdown pass to Julian Edelman it was only 2.5%.[+]
Patriots' Win Probability vs Browns
Since 2011, 63 percent of Rob Gronkowski's receptions have come in the Red Zone. When inside the Red Zone, Gronk has been more sure-handed than when outside. Plus his 24 red zone touchdowns are tied with Jimmy Graham for most in the NFL during that span.[+]
Red Zone Reliability - Rob Gronkowski Since 2011
Shane Vereen caught 12 passes for 153 yards Sunday, becoming just the fourth running back in the last 10 seasons to post 150 yards receiving in a single game.[+]
Tom Brady had a rough first half against the Browns, being held to 5-of-11 passing for 60 yards and an interception when facing standard pressure. In the second half, Brady was far more efficient and effective, connecting for a pair of touchdowns including the game winner to Danny Amendola with less than a minute remaining.[+]
Tom Brady vs 4 or Fewer Rushers, Sunday
Tom Brady has been significantly more effective with Rob Gronkowski on the field. Since Gronk entered the league in 2010, Brady has a 77.7 Total QBR with Gronkowski on the field and a 59.8 QBR with Gronkowski off the field.[+]
FROM ELIAS: The Patriots have won 3 straight games in which they trailed by double digits in the 2nd half. The last team to do that in the same season was the 1993 Eagles (weeks 2-5), Randall Cunningham was their QB.
The Patriots go back to "life without Gronk" which was not a pretty sight the first time around as the Patriots offense ranked among the league's worst the first six weeks of the season when they last played without the tight end.[+]
Life Without Gronk - Patriots In Weeks 1-6 This Season
Brady targeted Shane Vereen three times against standard pressure in the first half, completing 2-of-3 passes for 12 yards and one drop. Brady targeted Vereen 14 times against four or fewer rushers in the second half, completing 10-of-14 passes for 141 yards. Vereen had five second-half catches that surpassed his first-half receiving total.
New England's 8 1st-quarter plays is their fewest in a 1st quarter since Week 17 of 2011 (vs Bills).
Tom Brady is 42-6 in his career in December and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, he has the best win percentage in December for any quarterback since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger (minimum 10 games).[+]
ESPN Stats & Information