New England 33, Cleveland 13
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, October 9, 2016
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
CLEVELAND -- Tom Brady made his return to the NFL in impressive fashion on Sunday, passing for three touchdowns and 406 yards as the New England Patriots trounced the Cleveland Browns 33-13.
Brady returned from a four-game suspension for his involvement in Deflategate in the 2014 AFC championship game to throw all three touchdown passes to tight end Martellus Bennett. Brady finished 28-of-40 passing.
"Everyone was intense today," Patriots tight end Ron Gronkowski said. "Everyone was amped up. Tom always brings the amptness to the table, so we were just excited to get back out there, get back on track and get a win."
The Browns (0-5) are the only winless team in the NFL and for the third time in five weeks they lost more than just a game.
Cody Kessler, already the third quarterback to start for the Browns this season, was knocked out of the game with chest and rib injuries late in the first quarter when he was drilled by Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower attempting a pass near the Cleveland goal line. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone and was ruled a safety.
In the immediate aftermath, though, Browns coach Hue Jackson was focused on the final result -- a 20-point loss and being outgained 501-262 in yardage.
"I'm very envious of that team and organization for what they are," Jackson said. "Someday we're going to have that here. That's the plan. They play like a good group. They have a big-time quarterback. They play well together, and that's what we're chasing. We have a ways to go. I get that."
Robert Griffin III suffered a broken bone in his left shoulder in the opener and Josh McCown suffered a broken collarbone in the next game for the Browns. Both quarterbacks finished, but Kessler was unable to continue. Charlie Whitehurst replaced him and might start against the Titans next Sunday if Kessler cannot play.
X-rays on Kessler were negative, Jackson said. They showed no evidence of broken ribs, but Kessler will undergo an MRI on Monday as a precaution. He is listed as day to day.
"I wanted to come back (against the Patriots)," Kessler said. "My goal is to get back fast as I can."
New England (4-1) wasted no time washing out the taste of the 16-0 loss to the rival Bills last Sunday. The Patriots won the toss, deferred and held the Browns without a first down on Cleveland's first possession.
The Patriots moved 80 yards on eight plays the first time they had the ball on five passes by Brady and three runs by LaGarrette Blount. Blount, who began the day second in the AFC in rushing behind the Browns' Isaiah Crowell, finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run around left end.
The Browns tied the score on their second possession on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Kessler to Andrew Hawkins to the left side of the end zone. Kessler showed poise in the drive and in his three starts with the Browns, but has nothing to show for it in the win column.
The Patriots' offense made it 14-7 on Brady's first touchdown pass to Bennett the next time they had the ball, and following the safety increased the lead to 23-7 on a 5-yard pass from Brady to Bennett.
"There was a lot of stuff for Tom and me to communicate," Bennett said. "Earlier in the summer, one of them came around on the second touchdown. I said, 'Head around quick!' He said, 'That's what I'm talking about.' So you remember different things and guys blocking. I couldn't do anything without my teammates."
New England scored on the opening drive of the third quarter on a 37-yard Brady-to-Bennett hook-up.
The Browns scored their second touchdown on a 17-yard pass from Whitehurst to tight end Connor Hamlett with 14:05 to play.
The Browns entered the game averaging an NFL-best 149 yards a game rushing, but the Patriots neutralized that with a smothering defense, holding the Browns to 27 yards on the ground.
Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones was thrown out of the game at 10:59 of the third quarter for throwing a punch.
"It was deemed that he threw a punch," referee Bill Vinovich told ESPN.com's Mike Reiss in a pool report. "... Punch and connect, you are ejected."
NOTES: Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount led both teams in rushing with 37 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries ... Browns rookie DE Carl Nassib returned to the active roster after missing two games with a broken hand. ... Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for 109 yards. He had tight end Martellus Bennett combined for 176 receiving yards ... Browns CB Tramon Williams missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury. The Browns were hopeful he could play but he was limited in practice all week.
Top Game Performances
Team Stats Summary
Cleveland will play their next game on the road against Tennessee. The Browns have a W/L % of .000 after a win and .000 after a loss.
New England will play their next game at home against Cincinnati. The Patriots have a W/L % of .667 after a win and 1.000 after a loss.