Analysis: When leaders refuse to leave the stage, do leaders truly have a stage to play on?
CLEVELAND (AP) – They’re playing a different game and they’re playing better.
The Cleveland Browns’ game plan against the New England Patriots at FirstEnergy Stadium has changed dramatically from last week’s game, when the home team played with an aggressive air attack while the visitors took the ball and ran up and down the field.
The Browns are playing what can be argued to be a perfect game, because they have the perfect team at quarterback.
The Patriots have the perfect defense, and the perfect running game. They have quarterback Tom Brady, who is in his own universe, playing at a high level. They have wide receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski, who are on target every Sunday.
The one player who can disrupt the other team’s offense, receiver Josh Gordon, has been limited by a rib injury.
The Browns also are playing into the Patriots’ hands with the running game, which is as explosive as the game’s best in the NFL right now, and the defense that is one of the most potent against tight ends.
Cleveland is taking advantage of the Patriots’ weaknesses to stay in the game on the road.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of thinking going on inside and outside this organization about how to beat us,” quarterback Brady said. “They’ve got a lot of weapons. They’ve got a lot of guys we’re going to have to worry about. We have to protect our quarterback. We have to play our [defense]. If that’s the approach we’re taking, I think we’re good. I hope so. I hope we’re playing our style.”
The Browns haven’t been able to do that when they’re behind in a game, even when they were beating the New York Giants in their own stadium.
Their defense was