The Browns have had almost no success in the opener since returning to the NFL in 1999. They have one win and one tie in the opener since quarterback Tim Couch was drafted No. 1.
In 2018, the Browns drafted Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall, and the results looked a lot like a roller coaster ride at Cedar Point. Mayfield played well as a rookie running back under one-man coach Freddie Kitchens.
He took the Browns to the playoffs in Kevin Stefanski’s first year as Browns coach and won a road playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last year, Mayfield played hurt for most of the season and a team expected to contend for the Super Bowl finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs.
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The Browns decided to move on, acquiring Deshaun Watson in a trade with the Houston Texans and eventually trading Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers, who happen to be the Browns’ Week 1 opponent. Mayfield will start for the Panthers and Watson will begin serving an 11-game suspension as a result of a settlement with the NFL after 26 women accused him of sexual misconduct during massages.
Two Houston grand juries declined to indict Watson, but he settled 23 of the 24 civil lawsuits filed against him before agreeing to probation. That means backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett will be in the spotlight along with Mayfield and the next 10 quarterbacks the Browns face.
How Mayfield and Brissett fare will go a long way in determining whether or not the Browns can finally win an opener.
Find out how the game is progressing by checking back here often during Sunday’s game for live updates:
Myles Garrett delivers back-to-back sacks to Baker Mayfield
The Panthers’ chance to cut into the Browns’ lead is blown by Myles Garrett on their first possession of the second half, as he gives up back-to-back sacks and causes a fumble on second down. 4:38 left in the third quarter.
Browns add another Cade York field goal
The Browns open the second half with a 13-play, 58-yard drive that ends with a Cade York field goal. Running back Nick Chubb goes over 100 yards on the drive (16 carries, 110 yards unofficially) as the Browns take a 20-7 lead.
Halftime: Browns 17, Panthers 7
The Browns add a field goal by Cade York
After briefly considering calling it a fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski thinks better of it and goes for a 26-yard Cade York field goal. The Browns lead the Panthers 17-7.
A 50-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to tight end Ian Thomas served as the key play in the Panthers’ eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey to cut the Browns’ lead to 14- 7 to 1: 57 left in the first half.
Running back Kareem Hunt covers an 8-play, 78-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown run. The Browns converted on two third downs and on the punt, the offensive line opened a big hole for Hunt to score his second TD of the day.
The Browns take the lead
The Browns capitalize on a Baker Mayfield interception with a 1-yard TD pass to Kareem Hunt. The key play came on a pass interference call on the Panthers’ CJ Henderson in the end zone, setting up the Browns with a first-and-goal. They lead 7-0.
Browns running back Baker Mayfield
Browns safety Grant Delpit dives on a Baker Mayfield pass with 12:33 left in the second quarter to set up the Browns in the Carolina Panthers’ 42-yard line. Mayfield now has four interceptions with four pass deflections.
Early on, Baker Mayfield is struggling
The Panthers go three and out again, as they are forced to punt after Baker Mayfield digs and is forced to fall on him.
The Browns ride benches
On fourth-and-3, the Browns were stopped when quarterback Jacoby Brissett dropped Donovan Peoples-Jones on a pass. Just before that play he missed an open Amari Cooper for what probably would have been a big gain and possibly a touchdown. Baker Mayfield returns for his next shot.
Baker Mayfield’s first possession isn’t ideal
The Panthers go three-and-out on their first possession as the Browns’ defense looks to tighten up.
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This article originally appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns vs. Carolina Panthers NFL Week 1 updates