Browns close chaotic week by dumping Burrow, Bengals 41-16

Nov 7, 2021, 12:25 AM | Updated: 3:18 pm
Cleveland Browns' Donovan Peoples-Jones (11) makes a catch against Cincinnati Bengals' Eli Apple (2...

Cleveland Browns' Donovan Peoples-Jones (11) makes a catch against Cincinnati Bengals' Eli Apple (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

(AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

              Cleveland Browns' Donovan Peoples-Jones (11) makes a catch against Cincinnati Bengals' Eli Apple (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett (95) waves to fans as he leaves the field following an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws before an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
            
              Cleveland Browns' Denzel Ward (21) celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              Cincinnati Bengals' Tee Higgins (85) is tackled by Cleveland Browns' A.J. Green (38) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              Cleveland Browns' Denzel Ward (21) returns an interception for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              Cleveland Browns' Donovan Peoples-Jones (11) makes a touchdown reception abasing Cincinnati Bengals' Eli Apple (20) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
            
              Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              Cleveland Browns' Nick Chubb (24) runs past Cincinnati Bengals' Vonn Bell (24) for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

CINCINNATI (AP) — With drama swirling and doubt threatening to wreck Cleveland’s season, Myles Garrett felt Baker Mayfield needed to address the Browns before kickoff.

As pregame warmups finished, they had a moment while huddling with their teammates.

“He looked at me before I was about to speak,” Garrett said, “and I pointed at him and said, ‘You got it.'”

Mayfield and the Browns didn’t miss Odell Beckham Jr. one bit.

Mayfield threw two touchdown passes, Nick Chubb ran for 137 yards and the Browns, sparked by cornerback Denzel Ward’s early 99-yard interception return for a TD, ended a chaotic week by smashing Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals 41-16 on Sunday.

The Browns (5-4) came in desperate for a win after dropping three of four. Their situation turned turbulent on Wednesday when Beckham, the popular and polarizing wide receiver, was exiled for poor behavior and the team decided to release him.

But like last year, when Mayfield played more freely after Beckham suffered a season-ending knee injury — at Cincinnati — Cleveland’s QB was on target and the Browns put together their most complete game this season.

“Our whole locker room needed that,” Mayfield said. “We played for each other. It’s just the type of team we have. I trust the guys in this locker room. I’ve said it over and over again, and I truly mean it.

“When adversity hits, nobody flinched. It was a long week. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.”

The Bengals (5-4) hurt themselves with mistakes and dropped their second straight. Burrow threw two interceptions and was sacked five times — twice by blitzing cornerback Troy Hill — and standout Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase dropped two passes, one in the end zone.

“I didn’t play very well,” Burrow said. “If I play better, we have a chance to win that game. I just didn’t play well, and that’s all there is to it.”

Ward’s interception — at that point, just the sixth takeaway by Cleveland’s defense this season — came after the Browns had sacked Burrow on third down, only to have it nullified by tackle Malik McDowell lining up offside.

Burrow then tried to hit Chase in the right corner, but Ward jumped the route and returned it the length of the field, setting the tone on a day the Browns could do little wrong.

With each stride by Ward, the Browns seemed to put distance between themselves and the Beckham saga.

“We were focused on getting takeaways and then when he took it 100 to the house, I knew we had put it completely behind and we were ready,” Garrett said.

Leading 24-10 at halftime, the Browns put it away on Chubb’s 70-yard TD sprint in the third quarter, triggering a wild celebration along Cleveland’s sideline.

Chubb also scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter when the Browns built their big lead despite being outgained and their defense being on the field for nearly 23 minutes in the first half.

Mayfield, who has been playing for weeks with a stabilizing harness on his left shoulder, connected with Donovan Peoples-Jones on a 60-yard TD pass in the first half and an 18-yarder to David Njoku in the fourth.

Mayfield suffered a cut on his left knee in the second half and finished 14 of 21 for 218 yards and a 132.6 passer rating.

Burrow went 28 of 40 for 282 yards and the two picks, raising his season total to 22.

RARE FEAT

The Browns are the first team since the 1967 San Diego Chargers to record an interception return for a touchdown, a receiving TD and a rushing TD of at least 60 yards in a single game.

BYE-BYE BECKHAM

Beckham’s relationship with the team came to a head Tuesday, when the receiver’s father shared a video on social media of Mayfield not throwing the ball to his wide-open son. The posting came hours before the trade deadline and was a final straw as the Browns had grown tired of Beckham’s selfish attitude and trade demands.

Mayfield was the one caught in the middle, but said he doesn’t have any hard feelings toward Beckham.

“I wish him well,” he said. “He’s a good friend of mine. We still haven’t talked, but that doesn’t change things. I wish him the best in his career, but I’m worried about the guys in our locker room.

“I’m proud of these guys how they were able to focus up despite all the (stuff) that was going on this week and how they were able to do their job.”

Beckham would have been waived before Monday, but the NFL’s transaction wire is only open on the weekend for game-related moves.

If he isn’t claimed by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, he’s a free agent and can sign with any team.

INJURIES

Browns: CB Greedy Williams went out on Cincinnati’s second series with a right shoulder injury and didn’t return. He missed all of 2020 with a nerve issue in the same shoulder.

Bengals: Returner/S Brandon Wilson was carted off the field with a left knee injury suffered on a run back in the second quarter. … LB Akeem Davis-Gaither didn’t play in the second half after hurting his left knee.

UP NEXT

Browns: Visit New England on Nov. 14.

Bengals: Get their bye this week before playing at Las Vegas on Nov. 21.

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Then-Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly smiles after throwing a ball to fans before a baseb...
Associated Press

Blue Jays hire Don Mattingly as bench coach

TORONTO (AP) — Don Mattingly is joining the Toronto Blue Jays as bench coach to manager John Schneider, the team announced Wednesday. The former New York Yankees slugger, a six-time All-Star, joins the Blue Jays after seven seasons as manager of the Florida Marlins, where he won NL Manager of the Year honors in 2020. […]
1 day ago
La Jolla Country Day high school point guard Jada Williams, center, drives to the basket during a b...
Associated Press

Social media makes Jada Williams a face of high school NIL

SAN DIEGO (AP) — It’s the middle of the afternoon and Jada Williams begins a live stream on Instagram. In a heartbeat, more than 1,000 of her 671,000 followers join the broadcast and begin typing in questions and comments. Williams does her best to follow along as the comments and questions scroll past. She laughs […]
1 day ago
Brazil's goalkeeper Alisson celebrates after Casemiro scored the opening goal during the World Cup ...
Associated Press

Defense coming through for attack-minded Brazil at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — For all the attacking power that Brazil brought to the World Cup, the defense has been impressing the most for the five-time champion in Qatar. After two matches, Brazil is yet to allow an attempt on target, and goalkeeper Alisson has been mostly a spectator. Defensive midfielder Casemiro has been nearly […]
1 day ago
Canada's head coach John Herdman reacts during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia a...
Associated Press

John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — John Herdman wants to remain as Canada’s coach through the 2026 World Cup in North America after leading the nation to its return to soccer’s top tournament. “Eleven years of work in this country and I’ve been pioneering for a long period of time, and you’ll not find anyone as passionate […]
1 day ago
England's Harry Kane kicks the ball during the World Cup group B soccer match between England and W...
Associated Press

Kane extends World Cup goal drought but equals Beckham feat

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — For Harry Kane, the wait for a first goal at this World Cup goes on. Substituted after 58 minutes of England’s 3-0 win against Wales on Tuesday, he embraced his replacement Callum Wilson and made his way to the bench to watch the remainder of the game. Gareth Southgate clearly thought […]
1 day ago
Belgium's Amadou Onana falls during the World Cup group F soccer match between Belgium and Morocco,...
Associated Press

Not much room for youth in Croatia vs Belgium at World Cup

DOHA , Qatar (AP) — When Belgium’s “Golden Generation” meets Croatia’s accomplished veterans in a decisive World Cup match on Thursday, there won’t be much room on the field for younger players. Croatia, which reached the final four years ago, and Belgium, which finished third in 2018, each rely on a vast array of experienced […]
1 day ago
Browns close chaotic week by dumping Burrow, Bengals 41-16