For the better part of 59 minutes, Sunday was not a good day for the New England Patriots. Things wound up brightening up a lot at the very end, however.
Julian Edelman held onto a two-yard touchdown catch from Tom Brady despite a hit by Jordan Poyer that was flagged for unnecessary roughness with 1:01 left to play, Kyle Arrington recovered an onside kick and then Leon McFadden was flagged for pass interference in the end zone with 40 seconds left to play. It was a weak call by the officials, although New Englanders may think it just penance for the flag that was picked up in their loss to Carolina.
The Pats got the ball on the one and Brady hit Danny Amendola for a touchdown on the next play. They couldn’t get a two-point conversion, making the score 27-26 in a game the Patriots once trailed 19-3. It wasn’t over yet, as the Browns drove the ball into position for a 58-yard field goal with a second to play but Billy Cundiff was short and the Pats held on.
Brady finished the day 32-of-52 for 418 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on a day that went from a horrible start to a worse middle before the happy ending.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the first six games of the season, had to be carted off the field after taking a shot to the knee from Browns safety T.J. Ward and initial reports about the severity of the injury suggest that they’ll end the season the same way they started it. Shane Vereen will likely be part of the plan for life without Gronkowski after catching 12 passes for 153 yards on Sunday afternoon, but it’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the tight end’s loss.
The comeback will overshadow another monster day for Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon caught an 80-yard touchdown and had a 19-yard catch and a 34-yard run in the fourth quarter to set up another touchdown. Gordon had seven catches for 151 yards, breaking his string of 200-yard outings but setting a new Browns franchise record for single-season receiving yards.
That wasn’t enough to overcome another Tom Brady comeback, although there will still be plenty of people lamenting a loss in Patriots country on Sunday night.