A wild, weird day at FirstEnergy Stadium ended with a disappointing loss for the home team.
The Browns started as hot as they have all season and weathered a 19-point Seattle run to take a lead with 9 minutes to play in the fourth quarter only to fall, 32-28, on a sun-soaked Sunday by the lake.
"Too many mistakes," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. "Too many mistakes in the red zone. Can’t overcome all of those. Still had a chance to overcome them."
Nursing a hip injury throughout the second half, Baker Mayfield completed 22-of-37 passes for 249 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, his last of which all but sealed Cleveland’s chances of pulling off a victory over the perennial NFC West power.
“I thought Baker was wired in, focused, concentrated during the course of the week," Kitchens said. "We had the best week of practice that we have had and did not execute in the critical situations, and I did not call good enough plays in critical situations.
"You can’t move the ball if you turn the ball over. Simple as that. Execution. Execution. Can’t turn the ball over. Do what you are supposed to do. I have to call better plays, but it is execution and turning the ball over. We had four turnovers. We had 400 yards of offense and had 28 points with four turnovers.”
Russell Wilson led the way for the Seahawks, rushing for Seattle’s first touchdown of the day and throwing for 295 yards and two more scores. Chris Carson rushed for 124 yards and scored the go-ahead and, ultimately, game-winning touchdown with 3:30 to play.
Nick Chubb led the Browns with 122 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which gave Cleveland back a lead it held the entire first half before seeing it wither away in the second and third quarters. Odell Beckham Jr. caught six passes for 101 yards.
"Definitely trying to get it into the playmakers’ hands like I harped on all week," Mayfield said. "(Beckham) can make plays, and when he is hot, he is going to make plays.”
Early in the fourth quarter, the Browns were on the doorsteps for the go-ahead touchdown but came away with nothing after an odd sequence filled with a big fourth-down conversion, a handful of penalties and an unsuccessful challenge of a potential Jarvis Landry touchdown. Ultimately, Chubb was stuffed, and Seattle had the ball back with a five-point lead.
The Browns, though, got it right back after a 23-yard Michael Dickson punt and scored in two plays. Chubb ran 21 yards and then 3 more for his second score of the game, giving Cleveland the short-lived lead.
Seattle, as it did all game, came right back. Wilson led the way on a nine-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard Carson touchdown with 3:30 to play.
Faced with a second-and-15, Mayfield threw behind Dontrell Hilliard, who deflected the ball into the arms of linebacker K.J. Wright. Seattle ran out the clock from there.
“Trell played great. Obviously, there is a lot of stuff that we can look back on and learn from," Mayfield said. "Stuff like that is going to happen. It is just the timing of it is obviously not great. Tried to protect him on the throw, but it is a tough one.”
Check out photos of the Browns in action against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday
The Browns’ third turnover of the game led directly to their first deficit at the 6-minute mark in the third quarter. Chubb’s fumble on a screen pass preceded a seven-play, 58-yard drive that was capped by a touchdown pass from Wilson to Jaron Brown that featured Wilson buying all sorts of time before firing to a diving Brown.
Following their worst game of the year, the Browns had one of their best offensive quarters of the season to kick things off Sunday.
Cleveland rode the momentum of Hilliard’s game-opening 74-yard kick return and found the end zone when Chubb scored his fifth touchdown of the season from 7 yards. The next possession included even more proficiency, as Mayfield found Landry for 27 yards on a fourth-and-seven and followed with the first rushing touchdown of his young NFL career, scoring from 10 yards.
Mayfield’s first pass of the second quarter was a touchdown, too, as he found Ricky Seals-Jones for a 31-yarder to stake the Browns to a two-score lead.
Seattle, though, was more than game from that point forward, forcing two Mayfield interceptions and blocking a punt to slice into Cleveland’s lead, 20-18, at the half.
"We didn’t overcome the turnovers today," Beckham said. "Not to say that they didn’t play a good game, but we beat ourselves a lot. It was a combination of them playing a good game and making the plays where needed and us not making the plays and hurting ourselves with penalties and turnovers.
A blocked punt turned into an easy field goal, and Seattle’s first interception of Mayfield stalled a promising Browns drive. The backbreaker came with less than 2 minutes to play, as Mayfield threw behind Landry, saw the ball deflect and land in the arms of Tedric Thompson. The Seahawks turned this turnover into a touchdown when Wilson weathered a big hit to complete a 17-yard touchdown pass to Brown.
The Browns are off next week before taking on the New England Patriots in Week 8.
"We still have five division games left. There are some very important road games later in the year," Mayfield said. "We will see what we are made of.”