Behind McCoy and Hillis, Browns shock Patriots

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy  of the Cleveland Browns warms up just prior to the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 12, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

It figures doesn’t it? Colt McCoy wasn’t the top quarterback prospect in April’s draft and compared to Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen (the two quarterbacks that were taken ahead of him), he may have been the most limited (according to the so-called experts, at least) too.

But in just three starts, McCoy has already exceeded expectations in Cleveland. He held his own against the Steelers in his first career start, he played error-free ball in a win over the Saints and then, in his best game to date, he helped the Browns pull off a shocking 34-14 victory over the Patriots on Sunday.

McCoy completed 14-of-19 passes for 174 yards and he also rushed for a 16-yard score in the third quarter to give the Browns a 24-7 lead. Those numbers wouldn’t be impressive for say Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, but for a rookie third-round pick making only his third start of his career, they’re impressive. He also got a ton of help from Peyton Hillis, who rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. He also once again flashed his playmaking ability as a pass-catcher while hauling in three passes for 36 yards.

The Patriots made their fair share of mistakes, but this loss was no fluke. They were outplayed, outcoached and outsmarted, as Cleveland’s coaching staff went to their bag of tricks again early in order to build a 10-point lead. I’m not going to say that the Browns will suddenly jump back into the playoff picture after beating the Saints and Patriots in back-to-back games, but it makes you wonder if they’re heading in the right direction. McCoy has looked good, the defense has steadily improved over the last three seasons and Hillis may have been the steal of the offseason. What a player.

And how sweet was this win for Eric Mangini? You know every time he beats Bill Belichick he has to be thinking to himself, “Stick that where the sun don’t shine, a-hole.” Mangini has deserved the criticism that he’s gotten over the years but when Mike Holmgren was hired, he was relieved of many of his day-to-day operations so that he could focus on coaching and he’s responded well. I personally don’t think he’s the answer, but you can’t complain about the recent results.

As for the Patriots – they were caught with their pants down. They thought they could roll into Cleveland and the Browns would lay down for them because they were 6-1. They got a reminder that teams can’t take weeks off in the NFL.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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