ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Browns blew a 12-point lead in the final 61 seconds and lost a heartbreaker Sunday to the amazing Tom Brady and New England Patriots.
The Browns lost 27-26 after a last-minute meltdown by the defense, which had been electric early on in the game.
The Browns went up 26-14 on a four-yard TD pass to Jordan Cameron with 2:39 remaining.
Brady worked his magic and engineered an 11-play drive that ended with a two-yard TD pass to Julian Edelman that pulled the Patriots to within 26-21 with 1:01 remaining.
The Patriots recovered the onside kick when Fozzy Whittaker failed to secure the ball, and New England started at the Browns' 40.
"We were prepared for it, it was well-executed by them, and they had guys there," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. "We had a chance at the ball and just couldn't come up with it."
Two plays later, Brady hit Danny Amendola with a one-yard pass to produce the final margin. The score was set up by a 29-yard pass interference call in the end zone against Leon McFadden against Josh Boyce to give New England a first and goal at the 1.
Chudzinski was asked if he thought the play should have been a penalty. "I did not," he said. "I felt like those two were both jostling for the ball. Obviously it was called, and at the end of the day it doesn't matter what I think."
Added Cleveland linebacker Paul Kruger: "I feel like we got robbed a little bit.''
It was an incredible comeback by arguably the best quarterback in the history of the game.
The Browns dropped to 4-9 with their fourth straight loss, and the Patriots improved to 10-3.
"Obviously very disappointed in the outcome of the game," Chudzinski said. "Not disappointed in the effort of our team and how they played today. I'm proud of the way they played. It's difficult. We can grow from this, however, and learn to play better."
The Browns had a chance to win it on a Billy Cundiff field goal, but his 58-yard attempt fell far short as time ran out.
The loss spoiled a sensational effort by Josh Gordon, Jason Campbell, and Jordan Cameron.
Gordon headed into the game saying he'd "definitely make more plays'' than cornerback Aqib Talib.
It was a bold statement for a young receiver preparing to face a Hall of Fame coach in the Patriots' Bill Belichick who was gearing up to shut him down. Then he went out and backed it up.
Gordon caught seven passes for 151 yards and a 80-yard TD. He also ran for 34 yards on the Browns' crucial final TD drive; and caught a 19-yard TD on third and 17 to keep the drive alive.
Gordon became the only Browns player to record four-straight 100-yard receiving games and set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a four-game span, eclipsing the record set this year by Detroit's Calvin Johnson. Gordon also broke Braylon Edwards' team record of 1,289 yards with an 18-yard catch in the second quarter, a low strike near his ankles. It took Gordon only 11 games to set the record compared to 16 for Edwards.
Gordon did not speak after the game, but told the Browns' media relations staff: "It means nothing to me if we can't win as a team while doing it."
The return of Campbell from his concussion provided a lift for the entire team, including the defense, which held off Tom Brady and his high-flying offense.
Campbell completed 26 of 39 attempts for 351 yards and three touchdowns — including a 4-harder to Jordan Cameron with 2:39 left — to earn a season-high 120.8 rating. In three games in which he's been healthy, he's earned ratings of 100-plus rating.
Cameron caught nine passes for 121 yards and a TD.
Gordon caught the 80-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 left in the third quarter to put the Browns up, 19-3. He beat Talib at the Browns' 30, stiff-armed him at the 35 and then turned on his 4.37 speed to outrace Talib and cornerback Devin McCourty down the right side of the field and into the end zone.
The Patriots came right back with a six-yard TD run by Shane Vereen to make it 19-9 with six seconds left in the third.
The Patriots lost their best weapon in tight end Rob Gronkowski when T.J. Ward dove in and took his legs out on a clean hit following a 21-yard reception.
He suffered a suspected torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and is expected to undergo an MRI today.