Mayfield threw two touchdown passes, Nick Chubb ran for two scores and 124 yards and the Cleveland Browns gave coach Kevin Stefanski his first NFL victory Thursday night by beating the Cincinnati Bengals 35-30 on the NFL’s 100th birthday.
Mayfield connected with Odell Beckham Jr. o n a 43-yard scoring pass in the first half as the Browns (1-1) rebounded from an atrocious performance last week in Baltimore, where they were roughed up 38-6 by the Ravens and looked mostly inept in Stefanski’s debut.
“We’re not going to ride the wave,” Stefanski said. “We don’t look behind or look ahead.”
Things went much more smoothly for Mayfield and Cleveland’s offense against the Bengals (0-2) and No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, who threw three TD passes and showed incredible poise in just his second game.
Burrow’s third TD pass — a 9-yarder to Tyler Boyd with 43 seconds left — pulled the Bengals within five, but the Browns recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
Mayfield made it a priority to get the ball early to Beckham, who had only 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 spread the ball to eight different receivers, and the Browns racked up 215 yards rushing.
Chubb and Kareem Hunt were a potent 1-2 punch Cleveland. Hunt had a TD catch, ran for a score and rushed for 86 yards.
“They’re two talented backs that compliment each other and push each other,” Stefanski said. “We’re gonna look for ways to get those guys to rock.”
Burrow finished 37 of 61 for 316 yards. He wa s sacked three times, and had an unfortunate moment when he tried to call timeout and had the ball snapped past him. But the reigning Heisman Trophy winner matched Mayfield pass for pass and showed why the Bengals believe he can turn them around.