Cleveland Browns Game Last Night Beat the Bengals

“Losing isn’t very fun,” he said. “This might be the only time in my sporting career that I’ve lost two games in a row. It doesn’t feel very good. I know guys in there are hurting. We’re going to come back to work tomorrow and try to get this thing right. Losing is unacceptable to me, to everybody in there, to Coach [Zac] Taylor, to everybody in this organization. So we’re just going to have to get it fixed.”

Browns Beat the Bengals

Unburdened by lofty expectations, the Browns regroup to beat the Bengals for first win

The Cleveland Browns were not the darlings of the NFL offseason this time around. They are no one’s trendy pick to win the AFC North or to be in the playoff mix. Third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield is on his fourth NFL head coach. Trade speculation again is swirling around mercurial wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. One game into their 2020 season, many were ready to give up on them.

But they provided a warning Thursday night: Not so fast.

Mayfield prevailed over Joe Burrow in a compelling matchup of former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks and top overall picks in the NFL draft. Beckham had a few moments in the spotlight. And the Browns got into the win column, riding Mayfield’s two touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns by tailback Nick Chubb to a 35-30 triumph in Cleveland over Burrow’s Cincinnati Bengals.

“That’s the expectation and standard for us,” Mayfield told the NFL Network after the game, “is to come out here and execute like that.”

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Expectations were low for the Browns after their lopsided loss Sunday in Baltimore to open their season. They were major disappointments last season, going 6-10 amid considerable hype surrounding Beckham’s arrival and Mayfield’s expected development. That led to Kevin Stefanski replacing the fired Freddie Kitchens as the franchise’s latest coach.

The ugly defeat to the Ravens stirred a feeling that more of the same was at hand this season.

“The Ravens are a great team ... but we were just disappointed with how we played — our execution, the lack of focus on the details,” Mayfield said. “So we wanted to come out here with a short week ... and do our job, establish the run game, lean on those guys up front. And they did an incredible job.”

The Browns provided some excitement Thursday in a surprisingly captivating game before an announced crowd of 6,000. Mayfield threw an interception but had touchdown passes to Beckham and running back Kareem Hunt in a 16-for-23, 219-yard passing performance. Beckham’s 43-yard touchdown highlighted his four-catch, 74-yard night.

It was Beckham’s 11th straight game with fewer than 100 receiving yards. But it was far better than his three-catch, 22-yard game against the Ravens, in which he was targeted 10 times by Mayfield but the two appeared out of sync.

“I just got the ball out of my hand quicker,” Mayfield said. “We were just on the same page. I think last week, the Ravens are a physical team, grabbing and holding a little bit. It’s just when you’re off a little bit, you can tell. We were clicking tonight, and that’s how it should be. That’s what we expect.”

Chubb, operating behind a revamped offensive line, ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Hunt, in addition to his touchdown catch, ran for 86 yards and a touchdown, a one-yarder with just less than four minutes remaining in the game after the Bengals had closed to within 28-23. The Browns totaled 215 rushing yards while giving Stefanski his first victory.

“We got it going,” Beckham told the NFL Network. “We have two running backs who are both number one running backs in the league. And just to be able to get the ball running, it opens up everything else. So you’ve got to chalk it up to the first game. We’ve been working hard. Like I said, the Ravens came out and beat us. But we came out tonight and did what we needed to do.”

The Bengals fell to 0-2 but Burrow, the prized rookie drafted first overall in April, had his first three NFL touchdown passes in a 37-for-61, 316-yard showing. He was harassed by Cleveland pass rushers all night, losing a fumble on a sack by Myles Garrett to set up a Browns touchdown. Burrow’s third touchdown pass, covering nine yards to wide receiver Tyler Boyd with 43 seconds to play, kept the Bengals’ hopes alive. But the Browns recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.

“We lost,” Burrow said in a postgame video conference. “That’s the only thing that matters. We’ve just got to find a way to win games.”

According to the NFL’s research department, Burrow became the first rookie since 1950 to have 60 or more passing attempts in a game without an interception. He impressed NBA star LeBron James, who wrote on Twitter: “Burrow is SPECIAL! He has the ‘IT’ for sure.”

But Burrow was unimpressed with himself.

“Losing isn’t very fun,” he said. “This might be the only time in my sporting career that I’ve lost two games in a row. It doesn’t feel very good. I know guys in there are hurting. We’re going to come back to work tomorrow and try to get this thing right. Losing is unacceptable to me, to everybody in there, to Coach [Zac] Taylor, to everybody in this organization. So we’re just going to have to get it fixed.”