Browns vs. Bengals score, takeaways: Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb outduel Joe Burrow in AFC North barnburner

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If you were expecting a snoozefest between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns on "Thursday Night Football", you're ecstatic to have been proven wrong. Baker Mayfield, a former first-overall pick himself, was locked in a duel with the current first-overall pick in Joe Burrow, and their respective offenses are delivering highlight after highlight -- the Browns pulling out an impressive 35-30 win in their home opener.

Despite being under pressure on a regular basis, Burrow consistently moved down the field, finishing 37 for 61 (!!) passing for 316 yards (90.6 passer rating) and his first three career NFL passing touchdowns with no interceptions. For Mayfield, it was all about establishing chemistry with Odell Beckham, Jr., and an eye-popping touchdown early in the second quarter was exactly what the doctor ordered. It also didn't hurt to have Nick Chubb beasting his way to 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns of his own, adding to a Cleveland onslaught that included Kareem Hunt racking up 86 rushing yards and a touchdown, too. 

What many thought would be a filler game instantly became anything but, in a division battle between two QBs being looked at as the potential savior of their respective franchise.

Why the Browns won

As unexpected as it might've been, Mayfield got it done when he needed to. A poorly advised throw that ended in the hands of Willie Jackson notwithstanding, Mayfield looked great in the first half before cooling in the second. He got the help of Nick Chubb and the Browns rushing attack, with Chubb rushing for 124 yards while adding two touchdowns to the bottom line, and after hearing the world lob trade rumors and questions regarding his viability in Cleveland, Odell Beckham Jr. reminded the world he still has the juice.

From there, it was a matter of the Browns defense staving off a resilient Burrow, who simply wouldn't say die. But Myles Garrett is not quite human, and he helped lead a defensive effort that clamped down just enough to send the Browns back to Cleveland with a 1-1 record. 

Why the Bengals lost

Well, for the second week in a row, it wasn't because of Burrow. The rookie first-overall pick continues to impress, making it happen with both his arm and his legs. Despite the Browns sacking him twice in the first half, the former LSU superstar remained poised and with a short memory, answering mistakes with big plays and would-be game-changers. One that falls into the category of the latter was a dropped pass by Tyler Boyd with three minutes and 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter, after a pinpoint throw made by Burrow in the face of Garrett on a rollout. 

Burrow got punished for the play, but no reward, as Boyd dropped a sure touchdown that ultimately cost the Bengals four points in a game where every point mattered. Combine that with Burrow's biggest error of the night -- a strip-sack by Myles Garrett that put the Browns back on the Cincinnati one-yard line following a four-down goal line stand by the Bengals -- and Chubb's second TD of the night wound up being the gut-punch Burrow couldn't completely get up from. 

Turning Point

And speaking of that Garrett strip-sack, here it is in all of its glory, completely stealing momentum from the Bengals after a tremendous defensive stand at the goal line, and giving Chubb a mulligan at punching it into the end zone. The game remained a cardiac event for much of the second half, but this was the pivot point for the Browns. 

Huge.

Play of the Game

While Garrett takes home the above honor, and in a game filled with highlights, nothing stole the show like this throw and catch between Mayfield and Beckham, Jr. With 12 minutes and two seconds to go in the second quarter, and up only 7-3, Mayfield rolled to his left and heaved a 43-yard touchdown that was even more impressive by the way Beckham, Jr. put Jackson on skates.

Seriously, this is criminal.

Allegedly... 

"Joe Burrow IS a rookie, right?" - NFL fantasy insider Michael Fabiano

What's next

The Browns now face a potent defensive front when the Washington Football Team heads to Cleveland in Week 3, while the Bengals will have an NFC East opponent of their own to contend with -- when they head to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Catch all the highlights and action from you might've missed in the live blog below.

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CLE -6, O/U 44.5

Season Leaders

passing
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J. Burrow 2688 YD, 13 TDS, 5 INTS
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J. Burrow 2688 YD, 13 TDS, 5 INTS
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B. Mayfield 1850 YD, 15 TDS, 7 INTS
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B. Mayfield 1850 YD, 15 TDS, 7 INTS
rushing
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J. Mixon 119 ATT, 428 YD, 3 TDS
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J. Mixon 119 ATT, 428 YD, 3 TDS
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K. Hunt 147 ATT, 644 YD, 4 TDS
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K. Hunt 147 ATT, 644 YD, 4 TDS
receiving
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T. Boyd 69 REC, 710 YD, 3 TDS
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T. Boyd 69 REC, 710 YD, 3 TDS
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J. Landry 38 REC, 471 YD
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J. Landry 38 REC, 471 YD
Live updates
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@Browns via Twitter
September 18, 2020, 4:14 AM

Folks, thanks for spending your Thursday evening with us. This was a fun game. Two No. 1 picks going head to head, big plays, lots of scoring. We'll be back on Sunday to live-blog various games throughout the day. Enjoy your weekend!

September 18, 2020, 3:48 AM

https://twitter.com/johnbreech...

September 18, 2020, 3:44 AM
@TheOBR via Twitter
September 18, 2020, 3:43 AM

Next up for the Bengals is a game against the Eagles on Sep. 27, 1 pm on CBS. The Browns play the Football Team at 1 pm on FOX, the same day.

September 18, 2020, 3:43 AM

Andy Janovich (who had a really nice game blocking for Chubb and Hunt) gets the recovery and the Browns will be able to kneel on it from here. Cleveland is moving to 1-1 and Cincy drops to 0-2.

September 18, 2020, 3:42 AM
@TheOBR via Twitter
September 18, 2020, 3:42 AM

Onside kick time. These are... not recovered at a very high rate anymore.

September 18, 2020, 3:41 AM
@TheOBR via Twitter
September 18, 2020, 3:40 AM

Fancy footwork from Tyler Boyd for the garbage-time score, surely helping some bettors, somewhere, probably.

September 18, 2020, 3:40 AM

Burrow and A.J. Green have now narrowly missed on three touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season.

September 18, 2020, 3:39 AM

The Bengals are going to need to figure out a way to protect Burrow for long enough to let him throw downfield. You can't win averaging just over 5 yards per attempt.

September 18, 2020, 3:36 AM
@Browns via Twitter
September 18, 2020, 3:34 AM

52 pass attempts for Joe Burrow in his second career game. With at least a few more still to come.

September 18, 2020, 3:33 AM
@TheOBR via Twitter
September 18, 2020, 3:31 AM
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