If you just saw the score, you'd probably figure the Patriots just played down to their competition.
The reality is that the Browns gave New England all they could handle and then some, and if not for a highly questionable pass interference call late in the fourth quarter that gave the Pats the ball at the Cleveland 1-yard line, they very easily could (and should) have dropped to 9-4.
Instead, Tom Brady threw two touchdowns in the final 61 seconds and the Pats eked out a 27-26 victory. But it wasn't all good news: tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a tough-to-look-at knee injury in the third quarter after Browns safety T.J. Ward tackled him low on a play down the field.
"Rob was taken to the hospital for observation and evaluation on his injury," Belichick said after the game. "That's all I have on it."
According to various reports, Gronk will have an MRI on Monday, but it's feared that he tore his ACL, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.
Ward explained why he went low on Gronkowski: "It was a decision I made just to make a tackle on a big man and unfortunately he got hurt, but if I would've hit up high, there's a chance I would get fined and all that other stuff. I'm just being safe."
In years past, defenders wouldn't hesitate to hit receivers high but with the NFL serious about reducing head injuries, the rules have been tightened to avoid above-the-shoulder hits. As a consequence, defenders will occasionally go low, sometimes with gruesome results.
"My intention is never to hurt anyone," Ward continued. "That's not what this game is about. That's not how I play, I hate to see guys go down with any type of injury and I just wanted him to know, whether he accepted it or not, it wasn't an intentional hit to injure him. But we have to play this game, we have to play it the way that they force us to, and unfortunately, we incurred an injury for him."
Gronkowski, who was sidelined earlier in the season while recovering from offseason back surgery, left the field on a cart.