Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense kicked off the preseason the way they finished 2018.
That made for an enjoyable start to Cleveland’s preseason opener, one that saw the Browns reach the end zone before a number of fans found their seats at FirstEnergy Stadium. The quick-strike touchdown from Mayfield and the majority of the Browns’ first-team offense was one of the biggest highlights from Thursday’s 30-10 win over the Redskins and, more importantly, a big reminder why there’s been so much excitement surrounding this year’s team.
Mayfield finished 5-of-6 for 77 yards, capping his only drive of the day with a 21-yard touchdown strike to Rashard Higgins. All of his completions went for first downs on a possession that went seven plays for 89 yards in just 2:13, as the Browns operated with an uptempo, no-huddle approach.
The Browns offense didn’t find the end zone again until late in the fourth quarter, but the defense chipped in with a touchdown of its own when rookie linebacker Mack Wilson intercepted Redskins rookie Dwayne Haskins early in the second quarter. Wilson, who intercepted a number of passes in practice over the past week, took the pick 40 yards into the end zone, delivering a stiff-arm to Haskins to punctuate the touchdown.
Cleveland’s special teams got in on the action late in the game when Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown. Nearly the entire bench emptied to celebrate in the end zone with Sheehy-Guiseppi, whose improbable story of how he even found his way into a tryout with the Browns was well-documented throughout the summer.
Check out photos of the Cleveland Browns vs the Washington Redskins at FirstEnergy Stadium by team photographer Matt Starkey
Cleveland’s biggest blemish on defense came midway through the first quarter when Redskins quarterback Case Keenum took advantage of a blown coverage and connected with Robert Davis for a 46-yard touchdown. Second-round rookie cornerback Greedy Williams, who started in place of Denzel Ward and was guarding Davis on the touchdown, found some redemption in the second quarter when he intercepted Haskins.
Garrett Gilbert was second off the bench at quarterback following a brief appearance from veteran Drew Stanton and received the most playing time at the position. Gilbert, whose most promising drive was derailed by an Ishmael Hyman fumble near the goal line, finished 14-of-22 for 135 yards.
Cleveland’s kickers mostly took advantage of their opportunities in the first big test of their ongoing competition. Greg Joseph made a 43-yard field goal with 4:59 to play in the second quarter, connected on his extra-point attempt in the first quarter but missed an extra-point attempt late in the fourth quarter. Rookie Austin Seibert made both of his extra-point attempts.
The Browns will hit the road next week for joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts before squaring off against them Saturday at 4 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.