BOSTON (CBS) — The king has returned.
Tom Brady is back from his four-game suspension, leading the Patriots to a 33-13 win over the Browns in Cleveland. Yes, it was the Cleveland Browns, who lost two more quarterbacks along the way, but the Pats are now 4-1 and have their franchise quarterback back.
Here are the Ups & Downs from Sunday’s win:
DeflateGate is officially over and Tom Brady is back under center for the Patriots. He showed little-to-no rust in his return, completing 28 of his 40 pass attempts for 406 yards and three touchdowns. It was Brady’s eighth career 400+ yard game.
He got off to a great start with 271 passing yards in the first half alone, and did a great job spreading the ball, with seven players finishing with at least two catches. He even scrambled for a first down run in the third quarter, striking a pose afterwards:
Think Brady had some fun in his return? Good to have you back, 12.
Bennett Comes Up Big
The Imagination Agency was open for business on Sunday, and came up big with a gigantic effort, finishing with three touchdowns. Bennett’s third score was his most impressive, completing a 37-yard connection with Brady by leaping at the four-yard line and making sure the ball crossed the pylon before hitting the ground out of bounds:
Bennett, who hurt his ankle early in the game, was a force and finished with six receptions for 67 yards.
Gronk Looks Like Gronk
After hauling in just one catch in his first two games of the season, Gronk made the most of having Brady back under center and finished with five catches for 109 yards (second only to Chris Hogan’s 114 yards on four catches).
He set up New England’s first score of the day with a 34-yard catch-and-run down to the Cleveland 2:
It’s the 21st time in his career that Gronk has gone over the 100-yard mark, tying Antonio Gates for the fourth most 100-yard games by a tight end.
Better Day For Defense
After some lackluster performances over the last few weeks, the defense looked more like the defense we expected (even though it was the Browns with Charlie Whitehurst at QB for much of the game).
Dont’a Hightower had just one tackle, but he destroyed Cody Kessler on a screen attempt in the first quarter, forcing the Browns quarterback to throw it backwards and out of the end zone for a safety.
Malcom Brown was also disruptive along the defensive line, finishing with a pair of sacks. In total, the Patriots hit Browns quarterbacks five times on the afternoon.
Cleveland finished with just 262 total yards, and went 5-13 on third down, an area the defense has struggled in so far this season.
The struggles of rookie corner Cyrus Jones continue. He was replaced on kickoff returns on special teams, and then looked lost on defense. He was burned by Andrew Hawkins on Cleveland’s only touchdown of the day, and was later ejected after throwing a punch early in the third quarter.
Tough Day For Blount
The big back had just 37 yards on 18 carries, which comes out to a 2.1 yards per carry average. That’s no good.
Blount was also stopped twice near the goal line in the second quarter, losing yards on a fourth-and-goal carry.
They didn’t come back to hurt them, but the Patriots were flagged for five penalties for 61 yards.
Another Gostkowski Miss
After missing just three kicks all of last season, Gostkowski missed his third of the year on Sunday: A 50-yard attempt in the first half. He’s now 7-for-10 on the season, which will lead to plenty of chatter on talk radio throughout the week.