FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Cleveland Browns have found a lot of ways to lose these past many years.
Sunday in New England added one more to the ever-growing list, as the New England Patriots scored two touchdowns in the final 1:01 as the Browns turned a 26-14 lead into an improbable, head-scratching and hard-to-figure 27-26 defeat.
“Heartbreaking,” defensive tackle Phil Taylor said.
Jason Campbell's third touchdown pass had given the Browns a 12-point lead with 2:39 left. But somehow Tom Brady was able to pull yet another rabbit out of his helmet. Brady threw two touchdown passes and the Patriots recovered an onside kick in the final 1:01 to win.
“It's devastating,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. “Trust me, it's devastating.”
The Browns also were bitter and angry about two late penalty calls that they felt contributed significantly to the loss. The first came when Jordan Poyer tried to dislodge the ball form Julian Edelman after his touchdown catch with 1:01 left.
Officials flagged Poyer for unnecessary roughness. The Browns thought Poyer hit Edelman with his shoulder in Edelman's shoulder.
The second came after the Patriots recovered the ensuing onside kick, which was kicked from the 50 instead of the 35 thanks to the call on Poyer.
On New England's second play, Brady threw deep to Josh Boyce, who had the ball glance off his fingertips.
But the official ruled rookie Leon McFadden had interfered, and gave the Patriots the ball at the 1.
After watching replays, the same official made both the calls the Browns moaned about: Field judge Dyrol Prioleau.
“I think they were both terrible calls,” Kruger said, “but then, I'm just a player.”
“I thought both those plays were good, physical plays,'' safety Tashaun Gipson said.
Ward said he was “right there” for the hit on Edelman, and said Poyer's hit “was a total clean hit.”
As for the penalty on McFadden? “I have no comment on that,” he said.
Kruger was more direct.
“I think we got robbed a little bit,” he said.
Which will be words that will be repeated often back in Clevleand. But it's also true that the defense had 82 yards to stop New England's first drive, and it didn't. It had a chance to recover Stephen Gostkowski's onside kick, but didn't as running back Fozzy Whittaker mistakenly thought Gostkowski touched the ball prior to 10 yards and jumped in trying, he said, to knock Gostkowski away from the ball.
New England recovered.
“All we had to do was recover that onside kick and the game was over,” Taylor said.
With the Browns there always seem to be a lot of “if this” or “if that" situations. If they recover the kick, if the flags aren't thrown.
But the other "if" might have been the biggest. Because for the second week in a row, the Browns had a chance to stop the other team to gain a win -- and didn't.
“I don't think they took anything,” Ward said of the officials. “We took it from ourselves. We had opportunities and we didn't get the job done.”