CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 the Fan) – The NFL should just give the Browns Week 1 off.
The Browns futility in Week 1 continued Sunday despite an explosive opening half that saw them dictate the flow of the game for the first 30 minutes before they imploded with critical mistakes in the second half.
Leading most of the afternoon, Nick Chubb fumbled, Jamie Gillan dropped a snap on a punt and was immediately tackled for a big loss and Baker Mayfield threw an interception in the closing minute to seal their fate.
When the dust settled: Kansas City 33, the Browns 29.
That’s 1-21-1 in openers since 1999.
It was a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise great game that saw the Browns throw haymakers at the Chiefs from the outset.
The Browns racked up 457 yards of total offense, out-gaining KC by 60 yards.
Besides the second half miscues, the other difference in the game: the Chiefs converted 9 of 13 on third down compared to just 2-7 for the Browns.
Mayfield threw for 321 yards completing 21 of 28 passes. Patrick Mahomes racked up 337 through the air and 3 scores. Four different Browns rushed for touchdowns. Travis Kelce caught 2 for the home team. They couldn't stop Tyreek Hill either. 197 yards, including a 75-yard TD.
The opening drive could not have gone any better for the Browns. They went 75 yards in 13 plays and burned 7:07 off the clock. Chubb got the first three touches of the day and seven on the drive alone, including his four-yard touchdown run. Anthony Schwartz’s first NFL catch came on third down for 16 yards to move the sticks. Tight end Austin Hooper kept the drive alive converting a fouth-and-3 at the KC 15 with a catch on a quick slant from Mayfield. After the Chiefs jumped offside when lining up for the PAT, Kevin Stefanski went for 2 and Kareem Hunt jumped over the line for an 8-0 lead.
Browns safety Ronnie Harrison was ejected after retaliating against a Chiefs assistant coach by showing him in the face. The assistant pushed Harrison first to stop him from stepping on a player, who was down on the sideline, which Harrison reacted to. The ejection forced M.J. Stewart to take over for him. The Chiefs assistant was allowed to remain on the sideline.
The defense bent but didn’t break on Kansas City’s opening possession as they quickly gave up 71 yards in 10 plays, but unlike Stefanski, Andy Reid elected to kick a 28-yard field goal on a fourth-and-2 at the Cleveland 10 to trim the Browns advantage to 8-3 with just under two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Schwartz bobbled and hauled in a 44-yard reception to highlight the Browns’ second offensive series. Stefanski maintained his aggressiveness and Jarvis Landry rewarded his faith with a 5-yard touchdown run on an end around, that was originally ruled short but reversed by Stefanski’s coach’s challenge, on fourth-and-1. The good news: the Browns led 15-3. The bad news: left tackle Jedrick Wills was carted to the locker room with a left ankle injury after getting rolled up on blocking for Landry and did not return.
The Chiefs converted three third downs on their second offensive series that ended in a Mahomes 5-yard TD run untouched after he evaded Browns defensive tackle Malik McDowell. The score, which cut the Browns lead to 15-10, overshadowed a spectacular pass break up on a deep ball to Hill by cornerback Denzel Ward.
Chubb’s second score, and the Browns’ third TD in as many drives, came from 18 yards out as he rolled in untouched thanks to monster blocks from left guard Joel Bitonio and Chris Hubbard, who replaced Wills at left tackle. Stefanski dipped into his bag of tricks twice on the series. Mayfield threw a lead block on a reverse to Schwartz that gained 17 and Landry ran for 9 on what was supposed to be a throw from the receiver before he pulled it down after seeing the play was broken, and he drew a facemask too setting up Chubb’s run that hade it 22-10.
In the first half the Browns outgained the Chiefs 318-183 and recorded six more first downs.
Kansas City walked down the field to open the second half going 75 yards in 14 plays, capped by Kelce’s 11-yard touchdown catch to make it a 22-17 game.
Chubb was trucking Chiefs defenders until he fumbled with 5:56 left in the third quarter and the Browns leading by 5. Anthony Hitchens was credited with the forced fumble and Ben Niemann recovered it. Thankfully the turnover only cost 3 points thanks to a 43-yard field goal to trim the lead to 22-20 with less than a minute to play in the third quarter. Joe Jackson sacked Mahomes to help blow up the drive, coupled with a false start penalty.
Hunt plowed in from 2 yards out to extend to a 29-20 lead which lasted all of 14 seconds after Mahomes avoided pressure and heaved one to Hill deep, 75 yards for the score after Hill blew away from safety John Johnson III to make it a 2-point game again at 29-27.
Chris Jones’ sack of Mayfield blew up the Browns next possession and forced a quick 3-and-out. Punter Jamie Gillan dropped the snap and was taken down at his own 15. The special teams blunder cost the Browns the lead when Mahomes found Kelce for the second time, this one from 8 yards out, for a 33-29 lead. Their two-point try failed.
Kansas City forced a second straight 3-and-out when Chiefs corner Juan Thornhill broke up a deep ball to Schwartz up the sideline on third down, a play that it’s hard not to feel like Odell Beckham Jr. might have made a difference despite the difficulty of the play and tight coverage.
Defensive end Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney finally got to Mahomes and sacked him on third down with just over 3 minutes left to give Mayfield and the offense one last crack.
Donovan Peoples-Jones converted a third-and-2 with a 4-yard catch on a quick slant. Hunt ripped off 17 more on a screen before Mayfield made a fatal error while under duress. He heaved the ball towards tight end Harrison Bryant but Chiefs corner Mike Hughes was in front of Bryant and picked it off, ending what was a fantastic game.