In the long history of the NFL, nobody has put together the kind of receiving yardage the past two and three games Cleveland’s Josh Gordon has. Now he’ll be going up against an injury-riddled Patriots secondary that has five players listed as questionable to play on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Gordon became the first player in league history with consecutive 200-yard receiving games; he had 261 last week against Jacksonville, and 237 the week before against Pittsburgh. Add the 125 yards he had three weeks ago against the Bengals, and it gave Gordon two league records: 498 yards in a two-game stretch, and 623 in a three-game span.
Now the Patriots get their shot to slow him down. The banged-up defensive backs include safety Steve Gregory (finger), and cornerbacks Kyle Arrington (groin), Marquice Cole (shin), Alfonzo Dennard (knee), and Aqib Talib (hip).
“The plays he’s made the last couple weeks are the same plays he’s made all year. He’s a great player. He can attack all three levels of the defense,” coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s a complete player that can run fast, catch, big target, and make a lot of yards on his own after the catch with his speed, size, and running ability.”
He’s got it covered
Cornerback Joe Haden was the Browns’ first-round draft pick in 2010, taken seventh overall after leaving the University of Florida with one year of eligibility remaining. It was a wise decision, with Haden making an impact on the Browns’ defense right away. He had six interceptions as a rookie, and has four this season, tied for fourth in the NFL with, among others, Talib.
“Joe Haden’s got all the tangibles: He’s fast, he can jump, he gets in and out of breaks well,” said Patriots receiver Julian Edelman, who could find himself lined up opposite Haden on Sunday. “He was drafted high for a reason. If you don’t use your techniques, he’ll exploit you.”
He’s third on the team in receptions (40) and fourth in receiving yards (343), but Davone Bess has caught the attention of the Patriots because of how — and when — the Browns use the sixth-year receiver.
“He shows up a lot on possession situations, got-to-have-it-type situations,” Belichick said. “The Browns have gone for it on fourth down more than any team in the league, and that’s not all [when they’re] behind. There’s a lot of fourth and 1s, fourth and 2s in the first quarter that they go for, and he’s shown up on a lot of those plays. He makes a lot of tough catches.”
Through 12 games, Cleveland has gone for it on fourth down 26 times, and have been successful 13 times, which also leads the NFL. The Patriots, if you’re wondering, are 5 for 12 on fourth downs.
The Patriots Charitable Foundation is holding a toy drive through Dec. 15. Anyone wishing to donate new and unwrapped toys can do so at the Pro Shop and receive a $5 store voucher. Bins will also be set up at Gillette Stadium before Sunday’s game . . . The Patriots have won 20 playoff games since Jan. 1, 1995. That date is significant because it marks the last time the Browns won a playoff game. Cleveland, coached by Belichick, advanced that day with a 20-13 home wild-card victory — over the Patriots.