Browns deliver a home-opening win at a packed FirstEnergy Stadium
Browns fans waited nearly two years for a day like Sunday, and they were treated to the kind of result they've come to expect at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns were a little sloppy out of the gate and had to weather a couple of injury scares along the way, but they buckled down in the second half and finished strong on their way to a 31-21 victory over the Houston Texans. The Browns moved to 1-1 with their first win of the 2021 season and first game back on the shores of Lake Erie since they clinched a trip to the playoffs in Week 17 of the 2020 regular season. "A good team win," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "I thought the crowd was outstanding and in their seats right at the kickoff so I hope they are back at the Muni Lot already but nice job. They helped affect the game. They did a nice job. It was not always clean, especially in that first half. I did not think it was really clean football, but we had guys step up and make plays really throughout the game." Baker Mayfield started off hot before putting a brief scare into the 67,895 in attendance when he went down with an apparent shoulder injury. Mayfield never missed a snap, though, as he finished 19-of-21 for 213 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also had a 5-yard rushing touchdown, which officially served notice Mayfield would be just fine on this Sunday. Even after making a quick trip to the locker room, Mayfield said he never doubted whether he'd be able to return to the game. "Obviously, not an ideal situation," Mayfield said. "It kind of popped in and out, but I will be good. Nothing too serious." Nick Chubb (11 carries, 95 yards) and Kareem Hunt (13 carries, 51 yards) powered a Browns rushing attack that picked up steam as the afternoon progressed and put the game away in the fourth quarter. Chubb's 26-yard touchdown run with 5:52 to play capped the kind of game-sealing drive Cleveland utilized throughout its 2020 playoff run. "I thought Nick had as few runs that you could kind of feel were getting the crowd going when he was breaking a few tackles, and Kareem was real close if he did not get tripped on that one," Mayfield said. "Those guys run so hard. We are really blessed to have the offensive line that we do and those two backs. To be able to put one of them in that is fresh and go out there and do their thing, we are very lucky to have that." The Browns lost veteran Jarvis Landry to a knee injury on the second play of the game and relied on a heavy dose of tight ends to pace the passing attack. Austin Hooper (five catches, 40 yards), Harrison Bryant (four catches, 49 yards) and David Njoku (two catches, 18 yards) combined for 11 catches and 107 yards while rookie RB Demetric Felton delivered the first two catches of his NFL career with flair, scoring from 33 yards on a third-quarter touchdown and adding another 18 on a catch that got Cleveland rolling on its game-sealing drive. "We are going to continue to try and get him the ball and see how teams are going to try and defend him because he is one of those hybrid guys that may create some mismatch problems, and if they want to take a safety or another DB to cover him, then that means one of our tight ends has a linebacker," Mayfield said. "We have to play it to our advantage, and we are lucky to have him." The Browns took the lead for good after their first possession of the second half. Cleveland methodically drove into field goal range before a holding penalty set up second-and-19 from the Texans' 33. Mayfield dropped back and threw a quick screen to Felton, who shook off some would-be tacklers, made a few more miss with a spin move and utilized some key blocks on his way into the end zone. The 33-yard touchdown was the first of Felton's NFL career on the first reception of his career. "It was awesome. It was a great experience," Felton said. "Everyone did their job, blocked for me, and I was able to get in the end zone."