After a strong start in the first half by the Browns and what looked to be re-gaining the momentum to begin the fourth quarter, things just slipped away. That’s what often happens when you face QB Patrick Mahomes — the threat of putting him away catches up to you fast, and before you know it, you’re behind. When the clocks hit 0:00, the Browns were on the losing end of a 33-29 game.
The Browns got the ball to begin the game, with RB Nick Chubb getting the first three touches of the game to get the ball to near midfield. A couple of pass completions to WR Anthony Schwartz and TE Austin Hooper set Cleveland up with a 4th-and-3 decision in the red zone, and they decided to go for it. Mayfield fired a quick slant to Hooper to move the chains, setting up a goal-to-go situation. After that, Chubb received two handoffs, the latter of which went for a 4-yard touchdown.
The drive lasted a little over seven minutes of game clock. Cleveland lined up to go for the extra point with K Chase McLaughlin, but the Chiefs jumped offsides. The Browns then decided to put the offense back on the field to go for two. RB Kareem Hunt went over the top to convert, giving the Browns an 8-0 lead.
Now the question was, can the Browns’ defense do anything to stop QB Patrick Mahomes? After DT Malik McDowell demolished the Chiefs’ first run play, Mahomes zipped a pass to TE Travis Kelce for a first down. Two plays later, Mahomes found Kelce again over the middle to get to midfield. After that, a crazy and weird play happened where S Ronnie Harrison was ejected after a coach pushed him and he pushed the coach back. Mahomes continued rifling the ball into the red zone.
Cleveland got the Chiefs into a 3rd-and-6 situation after a couple of nice plays by S John Johnson III, and then a hold on the Chiefs made it 3rd-and-16. DE Myles Garrett then barely moved offsides, making it a 3rd-and-11 after the incompletion. The Browns stopped the Chiefs shy of the first down, making it 4th-and-2. Unlike Cleveland, the Chiefs brought K Harrison Butker on to kick a 28-yard field goal, making it a 8-3 game with 1:51 remaining in the first quarter.
Mayfield started the next drive with a 44-yard bomb to Schwartz, who made a diving catch. That was followed by a 17-yard connection to TE Harrison Bryant off of that always-effective playaction bootleg to the left. Cleveland faced a 2nd-and-8 from the 12 yard line heading to the second quarter.
A couple of plays later, the Browns face a 4th-and-1 from the 5 yard line and decided to go for it again. The handoff went to WR Jarvis Landry, who fought for the yardage and then spun a couple of times to be marked down at the one inch line. Cleveland challenged the ruling on the field of Landry being short, but aside from that, LT Jedrick Wills limped off with an injury. After replay review, Landry was given the touchdown to put Cleveland up 15-3.
Clowney forced a loss of seven yards to begin the Chiefs’ next drive, but Mahomes kept converting third down after third down through the air. Down near the goal line, Mahomes ran a playaction fake and didn’t see anybody, but kept biding his time, and weaved his way through the defense to the end zone for a touchdown. That cut the Browns’ lead to 15-10 with 6:30 to go in the first half.
To begin the Browns’ next drive (with Chris Hubbard now in at left tackle), Chubb had what would’ve been a first-down run, but Cleveland wasn’t set at the snap, making it 1st-and-15. Things heated up again with it being the Schwartz show, first on a 9 yard pass and then a 17-yard run off of an reverse. On the next play, a screen pass to Chubb got the ball to midfield. On the next play, Cleveland ran a trick play by throwing the ball backward to Landry, who was looking to pass it. Nothing was there, so he just took off for a 9 yard gain, and a 15-yard facemask penalty put the ball at the 18 yard line. Mayfield then handed the ball off to Chubb, who sprinted 18 yards untouched to the left for a touchdown to give Cleveland a 22-10 lead with 2:55 to go in the half.
After just two plays, Mahomes had the Chiefs’ offense into Cleveland territory leading into the two-minute warning with passes of 9 and 28 yards to WR Tyreek Hill. Coming out of the two-minute warning, a pressure by DE Myles Garrett forced an incompletion, and then DT Malik Jackson knocked a pass down to set up 3rd-and-10. On fourth down, Mahomes’ pass was errant because Garrett got a free release, leading to an incompletion and the first punt of the game.
The Chiefs’ punt was downed at the 1 yard line with 1:31 to go. Back-to-back runs of 5 and 15 yards got the Browns out of danger territory, and then Cleveland had the ball at their own 21 yard line with 0:59 and three timeouts left in the half. Do you go for a possible score? They went aggressive — and Mayfield fired a 43-yard catch-and-run to TE David Njoku to get the ball to the Chiefs’ 36 yard line with 0:49 to go. The drive finally stalled for the first time all game with a few incompletions, and then a third-down sack.
The Chiefs were going to run the half out, but Cleveland called a timeout with three seconds left to try a long pass, even though they were backed up to their own 43 yard line. The Browns actually got close to the end zone with a creative play, but was stopped near the ten yard line.
The Chiefs got the ball to begin the third quarter. As Tony Romo put it, they ran a boring but effective offense to slowly move the ball into Cleveland territory. They then faced a 3rd-and-7 from the 36 yard line, and Mahomes took off to pick up the first down with his feet. A few plays later, the Chiefs had a 1st-and-10 at the 13 yard line, but Mahomes ran again for a gain of 7 yards.
On 2nd-and-3 from the 6 yard line, the Chiefs tried to run a creative formation, but they ended up false starting to make it 2nd-and-8 from the 11 yard line. Kansas City burned a timeout to try to get themselves situated. Out of the timeout, Mahomes hit Kelce on an out route for the touchdown, capping a 14-play, 75-yard drive taking up half of the quarter. It was a 22-17 game with 7:27 left in the third quarter.
Given the nature of the Chiefs’ offense, there is a feeling of there being no margin for error for Cleveland’s offense. The answer to begin the drive? Handing it off to Chubb for gains of 6 and 17 yards, out to midfield. And then, the first big mistake of the game had to sink Browns fans — after a run by Chubb of 4 yards, he fumbled and the Chiefs recovered at midfield.
The Chiefs looked on their way to score a touchdown again, but a sack by DE Joe Jackson after a miscommunication with Kelce helped stall the drive. Butker kicked a 44-yard field goal to make it a 22-20 game with 0:32 left in the third quarter. Mayfield threw his first pass of the second half to end the quarter — an 11-yard slant to Landry for a first down.
A swing pass to Landry got the ball near midfield to begin the fourth quarter. After a 6-yard run by Chubb, Mayfield hit Njoku off of playaction for a 30-yard catch-and-run down to the 17 yard line. Chubb powered his way to 7 yards, setting up a 2nd-and-3 from the 10 yard line. Chubb went up the gut for 5 yards and another first down. Cleveland hurried to the line to run it for 2 more yards. On 2nd-and-goal from the 3 yard line, Hunt came in the game and took the stretch across the left side for the touchdown to make it 28-20. The all-important extra point by McLaughlin was good to make it 29-20 with 10:24 to go in the game.
If you thought that was enough, Mahomes was quick to make everyone know otherwise. He rolled to his right and fired a bullet deep downfield. Johnson was covering Hill and lost track of the ball, and it led to a 75-yard touchdown to make it a 29-27 game with 10:10 to go.
Mayfield was dumped on the first play of the Browns’ next drive, as DE Chris Jones beat RT Jack Conklin. The loss of 6 yards made it 2nd-and-16. A short completion to Hunt set up 3rd-and-13. Mayfield had time, but his downfield pass to Njoku fell short for an incompetion — the team’s first three-and-out of the game. That brought P Jamie Gillan out for the first time, and of course, he booted the handle and was tackled back at the 15 yard line. Unbelievable.
Mahomes took advantage with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Kelce, giving the Chiefs their first lead of the game at 33-29 with 7:04 to go (the two-point conversion was no good).
Could the Browns’ offense come through again? On a 3rd-and-6, Mayfield threw a pass up to Schwartz on the left side. He jumped up and had it in his arms, but the defensive back poked the ball away to force a fourth down. Backed up at the 28 yard line, I think there’s a legitimate case to go for it, with just over five minutes to go in the game — but the Browns punted, with Kansas City taking over at the 27 yard line. The Browns’ defense forced a stop at midfield to give Cleveland one more shot on offense, thanks to a sack by Garrett on third down.
Mayfield took over at the 17 yard line with 2:48 to go and one timeout, needing a touchdown to go ahead. Two plays to Hunt made it a 3rd-and-2 heading into the two-minute warning. Mayfield found WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for a first down, then hit Hunt for a screen pass to midfield. Just as things were looking promising, Mayfield faced pressure. He stepped through it and tried to throw the ball away, but a defender tripped him up, so Mayfield’s attempt was instead intercepted to seal Cleveland’s fate.
It was a game of a lot of highs for the offense, and it sucks that we had to lose with a string of turnovers in the second half. The Chiefs are terrific on offense, but Cleveland had their shot to win this one. Instead, they begin the year at 0-1.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 21-of-28 for 321 yards, 1 INT.
- RB Nick Chubb: 15 carries, 83 yards, 2 TD, 1 fumble. 2 catches, 18 yards.
- RB Kareem Hunt: 6 carries, 33 yards, 1 TD. 3 catches, 28 yards.
- WR Jarvis Landry: 5 catches, 71 yards. 2 rushes, 13 yards, 1 TD.
- WR Anthony Schwartz: 3 catches, 69 yards.
- TE David Njoku: 3 catches, 76 yards.
- DE Myles Garrett: 1 sack.