Mayfield connected with Odell Beckham Jr. on a 43-yard first-period pass as the Browns (1-1) rebounded from an excruciating performance last week in Baltimore, where they were battered 38-6 by the Ravens and mostly seemed incompetent. in Stefanski’s early days.
“We’re not going to ride the wave,” Stefanski said. “We don’t look back or look ahead.”
Things went a lot easier for Mayfield and Cleveland’s attack on the Bengals (0-2) and overall No. 1 pick Joe Burrow, who threw three TD assists and displayed a incredible balance in his second game.
Burrow’s third TD pass – a 9-yard pass to Tyler Boyd with 43 seconds left – pulled the Bengals under-five, but the Browns recovered the ensuing play kick and went over the clock.
Mayfield made it a priority to get the ball early to Beckham, who had just three catches for 22 yards in the opener. Beckham finished with four catches for 74 yards.
Mayfield completed 16 of 23 passes for 219 yards with one interception. But he passed the ball to eight different receivers, and the Browns racked up 215 rushing yards.
“You always want to get the ball into the playmakers early on, so these guys are in it,” Mayfield said. “I thought we were making the most of the abilities of our playmakers. I am surrounded by talent. I want to put the ball in their hands. ”
Chubb and Kareem Hunt were a mighty 1-2 Cleveland punch. Hunt took a TD grab, ran for a score and rushed for 86 yards.
“These are two talented full-backs who complement and push each other,” Stefanski said. “We’re going to look for ways to rock these guys.”
Burrow finished 37 of 61 for 316 yards. He was sacked three times, and had an unfortunate moment when he tried to call timeout and passed the ball in front of him. But the reigning Heisman Trophy winner matched Mayfield’s pass and showed why the Bengals think he can knock them down.
“The hype is real with Joe,” Mayfield said. “Obviously this team loves him. They follow him and he leads them.
Burrow’s attempts were the second most significant in history for a rookie. Only Chris Weinke (63) of Carolina threw more in a game as a rookie.
“Losing isn’t a lot of fun,” said Burrow, who led LSU to a national title last season. “It might be the only time I’ve lost two games in a row. It doesn’t feel good. … Losing is unacceptable to me.
Fittingly, the game between the Ohio teams came when the NFL was officially a century old. It was September 17, 1920, when an agreement at a meeting in Canton laid the groundwork for what has become a multi-billion dollar business and America’s most popular sport.
There were 6,000 fans inside the 68,000-seat FirstEnergy Stadium for the Cleveland home opener after the Browns obtained a waiver from the state of Ohio for COVID-regulations. 19 allows it.
Fans have remained socially aloof, mostly masked, and brought in the energy needed after both teams played in empty stadiums in Baltimore and Cincinnati a week ago. Some of the loudest cheers came after Beckham’s TD.
Mayfield’s strike against Beckham in the second quarter was the kind of game the Browns more often envisioned.
After faking a transfer, Mayfield rolled left to buy time before throwing a perfect throw down the sideline at Beckham, who beat Bengals cornerback William Jackson III to give the Browns a 14- lead. 3.
Burrow kept the Bengals in with a 23-yard TD to CJ Uzomah in the second quarter, but the Cincinnati defense couldn’t slow the Browns down and Mayfield threw a 6-yard pass on a widely open Hunt gave Cleveland. a 21-10 lead.
The Browns pushed him to 28-13 in the third quarter in Chubb’s second TD inning, after Myles Garrett stripped Burrow near the goal line and Cleveland recovered.