You simply cannot count this team out. Without their best weapon out of the game and down 12 points with only 2:43 left in the game, Tom Brady led the New England Patritots on back-to-back touchdown drives as they come out on top of the Cleveland Browns 27-26.
The Patriots struggled offensively once again in the first half, heading in to the locker room trailing 6-0. The Browns took a 12-0 lead early in the 3rd quarter when quarterback Jason Campbell connected with tight end Gary Barnidge on a 40-yard score.
Also in the 3rd quarter, Brady connected with star tight end Rob Gronkowski down the seam for a 21-yard reception. Cleveland safety T.J. Ward attacked Gronkowski with a low hit, and the New England star pass catcher instantly went down in pain. Gronkowski had to be carted off the field with what appears to be a serious right knee injury. He did not return to the game.
The injury to Gronkowski seemed to light a fire under the Patriots, as they finally got on the board with a Stephen Gostkowski 33-yard field goal and Shane Vereen 6-yard touchdown run. Explosive Cleveland WR Josh Gordon scored on a 80-yard touchdown catch and run, as the Browns headed in to the 4th quarter with a 19-11 lead.
Gostkowski added three more with a 50-yard field goal mid-way through the 4th quarter, and the Patriots had life. The Browns seemed to have the game sewn up when Campbell found Jordan Cameron on a four-yard touchdown after a play-action fake that made the score 26-14 with 2:47 remaining.
Brady then led the Patriots to two consecutive touchdown drives. The first was capped off by a two-yard TD reception by Julian Edelman. The Patriots then recovered an onside kick. Early in the next possession, Brady attempted a deep pass to Josh Boyce, who drew a pass interference penalty that set New England up at the one yard line. On the next play, Brady found Danny Amendola for the eventual game winner. The Browns were able to put Billy Cundiff in position to kick a 58-yard field goal for the win, but the kick came up about five yards short.
Brady finished the game with 32 completions on 52 attempts, 418 passing yards and two touchdowns to one interception. This win guarantees the Patriots a trip to the playoffs, and with a 10-3 record, they control their own destiny for a first-round bye. Brady was simply incredible down the stretch. You cannot count the Patriots out of a game, because even when it seems impossible, Brady finds a way.
If Gronkowski is seriously injured, this will only get more difficult for New England. They have struggled to find weapons for Brady all season long, and now he has lost his best one in Gronkowski. It certainly will not be easy, but as long as No. 12 is under center, do not count out New England.