Big news: The Patriots defense allowed a touchdown.
Not big news: The Patriots defense scored one, too.
Impressive as the entire New England operation has looked in reaching the halfway point of the NFL season at 8-0, the defense is playing at a level rarely seen in the NFL.
When Dont’a Hightower returned a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter of New England’s 27-13 win over Cleveland on Sunday, the Patriots defense had scored more touchdowns (four) than it had given up (three) this season.
Later, Baker Mayfield threw a pass for a Cleveland score to even the slate. But that wasn’t near close enough to get the Browns back in the game.
Hightower’s touchdown marked the first of three straight turnovers New England forced on three straight Cleveland offensive plays.
Other measures of this defense’s dominance:
—The D has scored 26 points this season, and of the 61 overall points New England has allowed, only 24 (28 counting extra points) have come with the defense on the field.
—If you only counted scoring plays when New England’s offense was NOT on the field this season (the four defensive TDs, along with seven field goals, two special teams TDs and one safety), the Patriots would still be 4-3-1.
In case you missed it, here’s some more of the good and bad from around the NFL in Week 8:
KICKING AND SCREAMING: DeShaun Watson got kicked in the face . Jacoby Brissett was being wrapped up by none other than Von Miller.
It took more than that to stop those two quarterbacks.
Watson threw the game-winning touchdown in Houston’s 27-24 victory over Oakland after spinning out of the grasp of Raiders lineman Arden Key, who, in trying to figure out where the heck Watson went, whipped his legs around and bopped Watson in the face with his foot.
Earlier in the day, Brissett got loose from Miller, who had him in his grasp near the Indy goal line, then threw a 34-yard strike to T.Y. Hilton that helped move the Colts within range of the winning field goal. Indy beat Denver 15-13.
FLUSTERED FLACCO: Broncos fans have been looking for a little fire from their new quarterback, Joe Flacco. They got it Sunday.
Brissett’s late save might not have been possible had Flacco been given the chance to throw the ball on third-and-5 with the Broncos clinging to a 13-12 lead late. Instead, they ran the ball into the line for no gain, forcing Indy to use its last timeout.
Flacco couldn’t understand why the Broncos wouldn’t go for the win there instead of forcing the defense to hold the Colts out of field goal range.
“We’re a 2-6 football team, and it just feels like we’re kind of afraid to lose the game,” he said. “What do we have to lose? Why can’t we be aggressive in some of those situations? That’s kind of how I feel about a lot of the game today.”
HAPPY HALLOWEEN: Jets QB Sam Darnold said he thought he was seeing ghosts in a 33-0 loss to New England a week ago. A week later, he definitely was.
Jacksonville fans were quick to pounce on Darnold’s unfortunate quote.
The team mascot, Jaxson de Ville, wore a white sheet. A plane circled the stadium flying a banner stating that Jags quarterback “Gardner Minshew ain’t afraid of no ghost.”
And the celebratory music at the end of Jacksonville’s 29-15 win, one that featured three interceptions from Darnold: “Ghostbusters,” of course.
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