Browns appear overhyped, reckless in penalty-filled debut

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield sits on the sidelines during the second half in an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. The Titans won 43-13. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Undisciplined. Mistake-prone. Just downright awful.

These Cleveland Browns looked a lot like THOSE Cleveland Browns — the ones the fast-growing bandwagon of Browns fans thought, or at least hoped, had been left far back in the rearview mirror.

The most hyped team over the NFL offseason racked up 18 penalties for 182 yards in Sunday’s season opener, while star-in-the-making quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter.

The Browns lost 43-13 to Tennessee to drop to 1-19-1 in openers since 1999.

“You all can crown them if you want to crown them,” Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. “We still have to play football.”

With Mayfield entering his second season, and with newly acquired receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and with a new coach (Freddie Kitchens) and the momentum from a strong finish to 2018, Cleveland became the trendy pick to buck decades of awfulness and win its division, and maybe even more.

Instead, the first game ended in front of a mostly empty home stadium, with the deficit swelling to more than four touchdowns; it was the first Cleveland loss of 30-plus points since 2015.

Nothing went right.

“We lost our discipline and we lost our composure, but it is one game.” Kitchens said.

And that is about all Browns fans had to be thankful for after Week 1.

In case you missed it, here are some other topics people were talking about on the opening Sunday of the 2019 season:

COMEBACK KYLER: One game into his NFL career, and quarterback Kyler Murray is still undefeated.

Still looking for his first win, too — though that’s missing the point.

The top pick in this year’s draft led the Cardinals on an 18-point fourth-quarter comeback to close out his debut with a 27-all tie against Lions that felt a lot better than that.

Murray looked every bit a rookie over three-plus quarters, completing only nine of 25 passes for 95 yards and failing to get Arizona in the end zone.

Suddenly, something clicked.

Murray threw for 238 yards and two scores in the fourth quarter and overtime. The teams traded field goals in the 10-minute extra session, but finished in a tie.

CONTRACT TALKS: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might want to hurry and get Dak Prescott’s name on that dotted line.

Meanwhile, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon might want to hurry back to the bargaining table.

Two contract disputes took different turns Sunday.

Not long after Prescott threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-17 win over the Giants, Jones said a much-awaited deal with his quarterback was imminent. Good idea. Under terms of his current rookie contract, Prescott is only making $2.1 million this year. That will increase dramatically when (if?) Jones and his quarterback come to terms.

Meanwhile, Gordon, who can run, catch and find the end zone — he scored 38 touchdowns over the last three seasons — is holding out, but the Chargers didn’t really miss him in their 30-24 overtime win over Indy. Running back Austin Ekeler had 154 total yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner.

PLAN B: The Jaguars thought Nick Foles might solve their quarterback problems and make them a contender again.

OK, well, how about Gardner Minshew?

Foles, who signed an $88 million contract with Jacksonville in the offseason, left the game in the first quarter with a broken collarbone that will keep him out for the foreseeable future.

Enter Minshew, the sixth-round draft pick out of Washington State, who completed his first 13 passes — the longest such streak for a player making his debut in the past 40 years. He finished 22 for 25 to record the highest completion percentage (88) by a quarterback in his NFL debut.

But Jacksonville lost 40-26 to Kansas City.

FAKE OUT: The Ravens were already leading 35-3 and their opponent, the Dolphins, were showing no signs of life.

Sounds like the perfect time for a fake punt.

Punt protector Anthony Levine took the direct snap and ran for 60 yards to set up Baltimore’s sixth touchdown of the first half. The Ravens squeaked by, 59-10.


CLEVELAND — Marcus Mariota threw three touchdown passes — one a stunning 75-yarder to big back Derrick Henry — and the Browns fell flat on their faces in their highly anticipated opener.

Titans tight end Delanie Walker had two TD catches in the fourth, and Tennessee’s defensive backs intercepted Baker Mayfield three times in the fourth period.

The Browns are 1-19-1 in openers since 1999.


GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyler Murray and the Cardinals nearly finished an improbable comeback in the rookie’s debut, rallying from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

The Cardinals had two chances to win in extra time and so did the Lions, but all they could do was trade field goals and settle for a tie.

Arizona’s new-look offense under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury was a dud for most of the afternoon before inexplicably coming alive in the fourth quarter. Murray hit David Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown to pull the Cardinals within 24-16 with less than six minutes remaining.


SEATTLE — Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for a 44-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, and the Seahawks withstood a career day from Andy Dalton.

Wilson and the Seahawks struggled offensively for most of the game, but got the big plays they needed on a day Dalton looked great running new coach Zac Taylor’s offense. Wilson was 14 of 20 for 196 yards and two scores, including a 10-yard TD pass in the first half to Chris Carson, who broke three tackles on his way to the end zone.

Wilson’s numbers were pedestrian compared to Dalton’s. The veteran threw for a career-high 418 yards and two first-half touchdowns to John Ross. But the Bengals failed to score on three possessions inside Seattle’s 36-yard line in the third quarter.


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Despite losing star receiver Tyreek Hill early, Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns while leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a testy and tactful 40-26 victory over the injury-riddled Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A day after the acquiring former Pittsburgh malcontent Antonio Brown, defending Super Bowl champions New England showed it might not even need him, getting 341 yards and three touchdown passes from 42-year-old Tom Brady.


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. —Lamar Jackson looked unstoppable from the start and tied a franchise record with five touchdown passes to help the Ravens humiliate the Dolphins and rookie coach Brian Flores.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Malcolm Brown ran for a pair of scores and Jared Goff threw for 186 yards and a touchdown.


PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz threw a pair of deep touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson, and the Eagles overcame a 17-point deficit. Wentz was 28 of 39 for 313 yards and three TDs in his first game since Week 14 after not taking a snap in the preseason. Jackson had eight catches for 154 yards. The Eagles racked up 436 total yards.


MINNEAPOLIS — Anthony Harris highlighted a thorough thrashing by Minnesota’s defense with two interceptions of Matt Ryan and a fumble recovery.


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Josh Allen threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to John Brown with 3 minutes left, and the Bills rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit.


CARSON, Calif. — Austin Ekeler scored three touchdowns, including the winner on a 7-yard run with 5:01 remaining in overtime.


ARLINGTON, Texas — Dak Prescott tied his career high with four touchdown passes while throwing for 405 yards, and the Cowboys rolled up 494 yards.


TAMPA, Fla. — Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon returned two of a retooled San Francisco defense’s three interceptions of Jameis Winston for touchdowns and Robbie Gould kicked three field goals. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 166 yards and one touchdown in his first game in nearly a year.

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