FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP/WPRI) –Tom Brady threw for 259 yards and two touchdown passes and Bill Belichick earned his 300th career NFL coaching victory in the Patriots’ 27-13 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Belichick sits behind only Don Shula (347) and George Halas (324) on the NFL’s all-time win list.
The Patriots improved to 8-0 for the third time in team history and the first time since 2015, when they started 10-0. The Browns have lost three straight games.
Brady completed 20 of 36 passes, hitting Julian Edelman on eight of them for 78 yards and both TDs.
New England capitalized on three first-quarter turnovers by Cleveland to take a 17-0 lead. Running back Nick Chubb had back-to-back fumbles and quarterback Baker Mayfield had an interception.
The Browns did trim New England’s lead to 17-10 early in the third quarter. But the Patriots struck right back on their next possession, using a 59-yard completion from Brady to James White to help set up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Edelman.
Chubb ran for 131 yards, and Mayfield finished 20 of 31 for 194 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots have now won 21 straight games against first- or second-year signal callers, the longest such streak in NFL history.
Cleveland’s first-quarter turnovers came on three consecutive plays.
After the Patriots took a 3-0 lead, Chubb took a handoff from Mayfield but had the ball inadvertently kicked out of his hands by left guard Joel Bitonio . It was scooped up by Dont’a Hightower and returned 26 yards for a touchdown.
On the first play of the ensuing series after the Patriots’ kickoff landed out of bounds, Chubb got the ball again, this time getting around the edge and scampering 44 yards down the sideline
He appeared headed for a touchdown, but New England cornerback Jonathan Jones gave pursuit and hammered the ball from Chubb’s hands on the Patriots 4. It was recovered by safety Devin McCourty.
Following a Patriots’ punt, the Browns’ next series ended when Lawrence Guy broke into the backfield and stepped in front of Mayfield’s shovel pass attempt to Chubb on the Cleveland 16 for his first-career interception.
New England needed just two plays after the changeover for Brady to connect with Edelman for an 8-yard touchdown.
Cleveland finally found some traction in the second quarter on their sixth possession, capping a six-play, 54-yard drive with a 21-yard pass from Mayfield to Demetrius Harris.
The Browns made a handful of changes on both sides of the ball in hopes of ending a two-game losing streak to the Patriots.
On offense Justin McCray made his first-career start left tackle in place of Greg Robinson. Starting cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams returned to the lineup on defense after missing the past four games with hamstring injuries.
The Patriots tested both early on.
On New England’s second drive of the game Phillip Dorsett beat Williams along the sideline and caught a 33-yard pass from Brady to get the Patriots into Browns territory.
But after the Patriots extended the drive by converting on a fourth-and-7 on the Browns 33, Ward nearly intercepted Brady’s third-and-2 pass into the end zone intended for Dorsett. New England settled for a field goal.
Mayfield’s TD pass to Harris in the second quarter ended a 71-0 scoring streak by the Patriots. They scored the final 21 points in their win over the Giants on Oct. 10 and then shut out the Jets 33-0 last week.
The Browns visit Denver. The Patriots are at Baltimore.