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If you were expecting a snoozefest between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns on « Thursday Night Football », you’re ecstatic to have been proven wrong. Baker Mayfield, a former first-overall pick himself, was locked in a duel with the current first-overall pick in Joe Burrow, and their respective offenses are delivering highlight after highlight — the Browns pulling out an impressive 35-23 point win in their home opener.
Despite being under pressure on a regular basis, Burrow consistently moved down the field, finishing 37 for 61 (!!) passing for 316 yards (90.6 passer rating) and his first three career NFL passing touchdowns with no interceptions. For Mayfield, it was all about establishing chemistry with Odell Beckham, Jr., and an eye-popping touchdown early in the second quarter was exactly what the doctor ordered. It also didn’t hurt to have Nick Chubb beasting his way to 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns of his own, adding to a Cleveland onslaught that included Kareem Hunt racking up 86 rushing yards and a touchdown, too.
What many thought would be a filler game instantly became anything but, in a division battle between two QBs being looked at as the potential savior of their respective franchise.
As unexpected as it might’ve been, Mayfield got it done when he needed to. A poorly advised throw that ended in the hands of Willie Jackson notwithstanding, Mayfield looked great in the first half before cooling in the second. He got the help of Nick Chubb and the Browns rushing attack, with Chubb rushing for 124 yards while adding two touchdowns to the bottom line, and after hearing the world lob trade rumors and questions regarding his viability in Cleveland, Odell Beckham Jr. reminded the world he still has the juice.
From there, it was a matter of the Browns defense staving off a resilient Burrow, who simply wouldn’t say die. But Myles Garrett is not quite human, and he helped lead a defensive effort that clamped down just enough to send the Browns back to Cleveland with a 1-1 record.
Well, for the second week in a row, it wasn’t because of Burrow. The rookie first-overall pick continues to impress, making it happen with both his arm and his legs. Despite the Browns sacking him twice in the first half, the former LSU superstar remained poised and with a short memory, answering mistakes with big plays and would-be game-changers. One that falls into the category of the latter was a dropped pass by Tyler Boyd with three minutes and 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter, after a pinpoint throw made by Burrow in the face of Garrett on a rollout.
Burrow got punished for the play, but no reward, as Boyd dropped a sure touchdown that ultimately cost the Bengals four points in a game where every point mattered. Combine that with Burrow’s biggest error of the night — a strip-sack by Myles Garrett that put the Browns back on the Cincinnati one-yard line following a four-down goal line stand by the Bengals — and Chubb’s second TD of the night wound up being the gut-punch Burrow couldn’t completely get up from.
And speaking of that Garrett strip-sack, here it is in all of its glory, completely stealing momentum from the Bengals after a tremendous defensive stand at the goal line, and giving Chubb a mulligan at punching it into the end zone. The game remained a cardiac event for much of the second half, but this was the pivot point for the Browns.
[email protected] with the strip [email protected] recover at the goal line. #Browns📺: #CINvsCLE on @NFLNetwork📱: Watch free on NFL App // Yahoo Sports App: https://t.co/VR50LZIQwH pic.twitter.com/Dbb7ysmWdq
While Garrett takes home the above honor, and in a game filled with highlights, nothing stole the show like this throw and catch between Mayfield and Beckham, Jr. With 12 minutes and two seconds to go in the second quarter, and up only 7-3, Mayfield rolled to his left and heaved a 43-yard touchdown that was even more impressive by the way Beckham, Jr. put Jackson on skates.
The Browns now face a potent defensive front when the Washington Football Team heads to Cleveland in Week 3, while the Bengals will have an NFC East opponent of their own to contend with — when they head to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Folks, thanks for spending your Thursday evening with us. This was a fun game. Two No. 1 picks going head to head, big plays, lots of scoring. We’ll be back on Sunday to live-blog various games throughout the day. Enjoy your weekend!
Congratulations, fellow #Browns fans. Enjoy the next 10 days, and thanks for following along with @BrownsMockDraft here during the game. pic.twitter.com/BvmDQOSNK2
Joe Burrow throws 61 passes, giving him the second-most pass attempts ever by a rookie. Biggest question here though is who let Chris Weinke throw 63 passes #Bengals1. Chris Weinke – 632. Joe Burrow – 613. Carson Wentz – 60
I LOVE WINNING, MAN! YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING? IT’S LIKE, BETTER THAN LOSING?!?!?#Browns defeat Bengals 35-30, even their record at 1-1. pic.twitter.com/US2PSLQ4Th
Next up for the Bengals is a game against the Eagles on Sep. 27, 1 pm on CBS. The Browns play the Football Team at 1 pm on FOX, the same day.
Andy Janovich (who had a really nice game blocking for Chubb and Hunt) gets the recovery and the Browns will be able to kneel on it from here. Cleveland is moving to 1-1 and Cincy drops to 0-2.
Burrow to Boyd! @Bengals back within five. #SeizeTheDEY📺: #CINvsCLE on @NFLNetwork📱: Watch free on NFL App // Yahoo Sports App: https://t.co/VR50LZIQwH pic.twitter.com/IC3Upq2a5e
Burrow and the Bengals still fighting. Touchdown to Tyler Boyd with 43 seconds remaining cuts the #Browns lead to 35-30.Comes down to an onside kick. pic.twitter.com/LCoXky3HEz
Burrow and A.J. Green have now narrowly missed on three touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season.
The Bengals are going to need to figure out a way to protect Burrow for long enough to let him throw downfield. You can’t win averaging just over 5 yards per attempt.
52 pass attempts for Joe Burrow in his second career game. With at least a few more still to come.
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