The Browns, already short-handed on defense and down a few more bodies by the end of Sunday’s game, simply couldn’t keep up with Kansas City’s high-powered offense.
The Chiefs scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions and didn’t punt until the 5-minute mark of the fourth quarter en route to a 37-21 victory over the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns, playing in their first game with interim head coach Gregg Williams and recently elevated offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, fell to 2-6-1 on the season. They’ve lost four straight.
Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes was once again the driving force behind the league’s most prolific offense. He threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns with his only interception, snagged by Cleveland’s Denzel Rice, coming on the final play of the first half.
The Chiefs racked up 499 yards of offense and averaged 8.6 yards per play.
Baker Mayfield threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to running back Duke Johnson. His interception came with 4:29 to play in the fourth quarter as the Browns looked to mount one last threat.
Johnson caught a season-high nine passes for 78 yards. Nick Chubb ran 22 times for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Leading 21-15 at the half, the Chiefs put the game away with two quick touchdowns to open the third quarter. Tight end Travis Kelce caught his second touchdown of the game on Kansas City’s possession to open the second half and running back Kareem Hunt got his third after a blocked punt.
Photos: Browns face Chiefs in Week 9
The Cleveland Browns play the Kansas City Chiefs at FirstEnergy Stadium in Week 9.
The Browns’ only answer in the second half came at the start of the fourth quarter, when Johnson caught his second touchdown, a 5-yarder on third-and-goal.
The Chiefs got off to their typical lightning-quick start with three touchdowns in as many drives to put the Browns in a 12-point hole late in the second quarter. Hunt scored from 50 yards on a screen pass to finish off a 95-yard scoring drive, Kelce caught an 11-yard touchdown pass on their second offensive possession and Hunt scored on a 1-yard rush on the third. Both Hunt and Kelce grew up in Cleveland.
The Browns accomplished their goal of milking as much clock as possible to keep Kansas City’s offense off the field, but didn’t get the end result they wanted until their third possession. Cleveland found the end zone on a Chubb-dominated drive to slice into the Chiefs’ lead midway through the second quarter.
Mayfield relied on his other running back to help the Browns minimize Kansas City’s advantage heading into halftime. Johnson caught two passes and ran for 8 yards before hauling in a 19-yard touchdown pass, his first of the season, with seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Browns entered Sunday’s game short-handed with injuries in the secondary and left with a few more. Already without safety Damarious Randall (groin), Cleveland saw cornerbacks Denzel Ward (hip) and E.J. Gaines (concussion) leave with injuries in the first half. Linebacker Christian Kirksey (hamstring) was also injured and did not return.
Player of the Game: Mahomes made the easy throws when his receivers were open and the tough ones when they were required. His third-quarter touchdown pass, a 13-yarder to Kelce, was perfectly guarded by Jabrill Peppers but was put where only the Pro Bowl tight end could catch it.
Best from the Browns: Johnson kicked off his second half to the season with a bang, catching a number of short passes and turning them into big gains. He escaped a tackle to score in the first half and came up big on third down to secure his second.
Key Moment: Damien Williams burst through the line and blocked Britton Colquitt’s punt with 8:10 to play in the third quarter. The Chiefs scored two plays later to take their biggest lead of the game.
Stat of the Game: The Browns carried a large time of possession advantage until Kansas City’s final drive of the game but it ultimately didn’t matter. When the Chiefs had the ball, they picked up first downs and points in a hurry.
Who’s Next?: The Browns host the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium next Sunday for their final game before the bye.