EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Odell Beckham Jr. had an 89-yard touchdown catch and a spectacular one-handed grab in his return to MetLife Stadium, and Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns did just enough to beat the short-handed and banged-up New York Jets 23-3 on Monday night.
Beckham, traded from the Giants in March, helped the Browns (1-1) bounce back from a 30-point loss to Tennessee in their opener to top the Jets (0-2).
New York lost quarterback Trevor Siemian to an ankle injury in the second quarter, and Luke Falk – promoted from the practice squad earlier in the day – played the rest of the game. Siemian was starting in place of Sam Darnold, who’s sidelined for at least a few weeks while recovering from mononucleosis.
The Jets couldn’t get anything going on offense, and the Browns blew open the game late in the third quarter.
Falk led the Jets on their longest drive of night to that point – 60 yards – but Le’Veon Bell could only get 1 yard on a fourth-and-2 pass, turning the ball over on downs at the Browns 11.
On the very next play, Mayfield hit Beckham with a slant pass, and the receiver outran the Jets’ defenders all the way to the end zone for an 89-yard TD that put Cleveland up 23-3 with 3:32 remaining in the third quarter.
The touchdown came after Beckham called out Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams last Thursday, saying the coach – then with the Browns – instructed players to hurt him in a preseason game in 2017. Williams denied Beckham’s accusations, jokingly asking reporters: “Odell who?” Williams, who led the Browns to a 5-3 record as their interim coach last season, also chided reporters for giving Beckham attention.
Well, Williams clearly knows who Beckham is now. The coach was seen shouting angrily on the sideline after Beckham’s touchdown.
And, that wasn’t all for Beckham, who finished with six catches for 161 yards and the TD.
He helped the Browns take a 3-0 lead on their first possession on Austin Seibert’s 23-yard field goal – a drive highlighted by a spectacular 33-yard, one-handed grab that got Cleveland down to the Jets 4.
It was reminiscent of Beckham’s highlight-reel, one-handed reception for the Giants on “Sunday Night Football” as a rookie in 2014. On this one, Mayfield found Beckham down the right sideline, and the receiver stuck out his right hand to snare the ball behind Nate Hairston – in nearly the same spot as his big catch five years ago.
And, yes, Beckham was wearing his expensive watch – despite the NFL telling him last week not to.
Beckham then had to come out of the game because officials made him change his mirrored visor. He returned with a clear visor on his helmet.
Seibert’s 48-yarder gave the Browns a 6-0 lead with 6:15 left in the opening quarter as Cleveland outgained New York 101-4 in the first quarter.
Nick Chubb’s 19-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter put Cleveland up 13-0. The drive was helped by a defensive holding call on Hairston – starting in place of Trumaine Johnson – on fourth-and-2 from the Jets 24.
Siemian was knocked out of the game after throwing a long incomplete pass to Ryan Griffin and Cleveland’s Myles Garrett slammed into him, and fell on top of him. Siemian appeared to roll his left ankle as Garrett, who was penalized for roughing the passer, sent him to the turf.
Falk replaced Siemian with 7:58 left in the half and helped the Jets get their first points to cheers of “Luuuke!” Sam Ficken, the Jets’ fourth kicker since July, booted a 46-yarder – and got loud cheers from the crowd who had seen the likes of Chandler Catanzaro, Taylor Bertolet and Kaare Vedvik struggle.
Siemian finished 3 of 6 for 3 yards, while Falk was 20 of 25 for 198 yards as the Jets lost their seventh straight at home, dating to last season.
Mayfield, who beat the Jets last year in his NFL debut during a Thursday night game that ended Cleveland’s 19-game winless skid, was 19 of 35 for 325 yards, including the long TD to Beckham, and an interception.
Garrett had three of the Browns’ four sacks.
Bell had 68 yards rushing on 21 carries and had 10 catches for 61 yards for the Jets.
Browns defensive end Chris Smith played after his girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was killed in car accident last week.
The 26-year-old Cordero was killed after she exited Smith’s Lamborghini and was standing on the highway’s shoulder when she was hit by an oncoming car.
Browns: TE David Njoku sustained a concussion in the opening quarter and didn’t return. … S Morgan Burnett injured his quadriceps.
Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins left in the first quarter with a calf injury. … WR Demaryius Thomas, making his Jets debut after being acquired from New England last week, injured a hamstring.
Browns: host Los Angeles Rams next Sunday night in their second straight prime-time game.
Jets: at AFC East rival New England next Sunday.
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