The Browns lost 37-21 to the 8-1 Chiefs to fall to 2-6-1 in Williams’ debut and Freddie Kitchens first game as offense coordinator in the aftermath of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley getting fired on Monday.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Browns and fifth in their last six games, and it seems like ages ago when Baker Mayfield came off the bench to beat the Jets and bust open beer coolers all over the city.
In this much anticipated rematch between Mahomes and Baker Mayfield — the first time they squared off since that epic 66-59 victory by Oklahoma over Texas Tech in 2016 — Mayfield and company couldn’t keep up with the Chiefs’ loaded offense.
Mahomes threw for 375 yards, three TDs and a pick for a 129.0 rating. Mayfield threw for 297 yards with two TDs and one INT for a 95.0 rating.
The offense showed signs of life, which bodes well for the final seven games. Forgotten players such as Duke Johnson (9-of-9 targets for 78 yards, 2 TDs) and Brashad Perriman contributed in a big way, and the Browns stayed committed to the run for as long as they could.
But they couldn’t engage in a shootout with the Chiefs — the team that John Dorsey helped build — who came in as the No. 1 scoring offense in the league and likely left the same way.
The Chiefs also got all five touchdowns out of Cleveland natives Kareem Hunt (17 carries, 91 yards, 2 TDs, 1 50-yard TD catch) and Travis Kelce (99 yards, 2 TDs), who had huge homecoming games.
When Mayfield threw an interception with 4:29 left in the game and the Browns trailing 37-21, the stands mostly cleared out. It seems like ages ago that Mayfield came off the bench to beat the Jets and bust open beer coolers all over the city.
The Browns lost a lot more than a game. They lost Denzel Ward to a hip injury, EJ Gaines to a concussion and Christian Kirksey to a hamstring injury in the game.
Mayfield cleared from concussion
Mayfield went to the tent to be checked for a concussion after a third-quarter sack, but was cleared. Tyrod Taylor replaced him for one play, an 11-yard pass to David Njoku on which Njoku also drew an unsportsmanlike penalty against the Chiefs. Mayfield returned and threw a 5-yard TD pas to Duke Johnson to cut the Browns' deficit to 34-21. The Browns went 0-3 on all three two-point conversion attempts.
Johnson gets dusted off
With offensive coordinator Haley gone, Johnson was dusted off and became a huge part of the gameplan for the time this season. He caught touchdown passes of 19 and 5 yards to keep the Browns in the game. For whatever reason, Haley was reluctant to use Johnson despite Hue Jackson urging him to do so week after week. Johnson admitted to cleveland.com he was frustrated by his lack of touches, but was trying to embrace his role as a blocker. With Kitchens calling the plays, Johnson is once again a valued playmaker.
The Chiefs’ Cleveland natives have a big homecoming
The Chiefs’ first five TDs — including on their first three possessions — were scored by Cleveland natives: three by running back Kareem Hunt of Willoughby South High and two by tight end Travis Kelce of Cleveland Heights for a 34-15 command in the third quarter.
Hunt scored three and Kelce two.
Hunt caught a 50-yard screen pass for a TD to make it 7-0 with 8:14 left in the first quarter. Mahomes drew in the defense and lifted the short screen to Hunt on the left, where he left several defenders grasping at air, including Jamie Collins.
The Chiefs’ second TD was an 11-yard catch by tight end Kelce, who beat linebacker Christian Kirksey to the ball in the end zone to make it 14-3 with 13:30 left in the half.
Hunt capped off the Chiefs’ scoring spree with a 1-yard TD run with 2:24 left in the half to make it 21-9. Hunt set up the score with a 9-yard gain with a toss sweep to the right. The TD marked 85 yards and two TDs in four touches for hunt.
Kelce caught a 13-yard TD over Jabrill Peppers in the end zone to make it 28-15 with 10:03 left in the third, and then Hunt scored on a 10-yard run to cash in on Damien Williams block of a Britton Colquitt punt.
Chiefs led 21-15 at half
The Chiefs scored touchdowns on their first three possessions to take a 21-9 lead with 2:24 left in the first half. But the Browns stormed back with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to Duke Johnson to pull within 21-15 with 1:58 left in the half. For the second time, the Browns’ two-point pass failed. This time, it was to Jarvis Landry, who was mugged by Will Fuller short of the end zone. Landry suffered an arm injury on the attempt and went to locker room. Johnson caught a 10-yard pass early on in the drive and then ran for 8 yards to set up the touchdown, a pass to the right on which Johnson fought for yards after the catch.
The Browns stayed in the game in the first half by possessing the ball for 18:31 to the Chiefs’ 11:29. The Chiefs also committed seven penalties in the first half for 55 yards. They scored on a 51-yard Greg Joseph field goal to trim the deficit to 7-3 with 2:45 left in the first and then on a 3-yard Nick Chubb touchdown run to make it 14-9 with 6:29 left in the second. The two-point pass to Damion Ratley. Johnson’s first TD catch make with 21-15 with 1:58 left in the half.
Before the game, Damarious Randall was scratched with his groin injury after he tested it in pre-game warm-ups. Randall hadn’t practiced all week. On Kareem Hunt’s 50-yard catch-and-run for a TD in the first quarter, E.J. Gaines took a knee to the head and was lost for the game to another concussion. He had missed the previous two games with a concussion. Shortly thereafter, starting cornerback Denzel Ward left the field with a hip injury and was out for the game. That left T.J. Carrie and Denzel Rice as the starting cornerbacks. Remember, original starting cornerback Terrance Mitchell is out with a broken wrist.
Desmond Harrison was inactive with an illness but Antonio Callaway was active. Christian Kirksey left the game with a hip injury and did not return.
Browns host the Falcons next Sunday at 1 p.m.