Browns re-start season with historic win in Baltimore for first place in AFC North

Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for 850 ESPN Cleveland.


Instant takeaways from Browns’ 40-25 to the Baltimore Ravens …

1. Narrative changed: All the angst of a slow start by the Browns was erased in one historic afternoon. They grabbed first place in the AFC North by punching the Baltimore Ravens in the mouth, 40-25, stunning the home crowd in the Giant Crabcake. The most impressive victory of the Freddie Kitchens-Baker Mayfield partnership was cooked up with a mix of creative play-calls, bullish running by Nick Chubb (165 yards and three touchdowns), indefatigable play by receiver Jarvis Landry (eight receptions for 167 yards before leaving with a concussion), and tenacious defense. The Ravens’ purple-clad fans began filing out when quarterback Lamar Jackson threw incomplete on fourth down for tight end Mark Andrews, who had Mack Wilson beat turning upfield, with 8:15 to play. The Ravens had closed the Browns lead to 24-18, with 9:51 left. Chubb then stepped on the Ravens’ throats with an 88-yard touchdown run on which Eric Kush and JC Tretter pulled to the right and Chubb blew untouched to the house. Jackson then tossed his first interception of the year trying to go deep for Andrews. Safety Jermain Whitehead soared above Andrews for the pick. Jackson was intercepted a second time a minute later when Whitehead hit Jackson’s arm as he threw and tackle Devaroe Lawrence came down with the flutter-ball. The Browns tacked on a touchdown for insult on three Dontrell Hilliard runs after Odell Beckham Jr. had only his second reception of the game. The Ravens added a touchdown with 30 seconds left on a 50-yard catch-and-run by Willie Snead.

2. Say what?: The Browns piled up 531 total yards on 60 offensive plays for an average of 8.8 yards per play.

3. Finally: Mark Ingram’s fumble in the third quarter, on a bang-bang hit by Joe Schobert and Whitehead, was Baltimore’s first offensive turnover of the year. Chad Thomas recovered, and the Browns marched 74 yards for a touchdown. Chubb got the score on a 2-yard run behind a long-lost jumbo formation with Justin McCray as a tackle-eligible on the left side and tight end Pharaoh Brown as a blocking back.

4. Revelation: The search for a replacement for seam-splitting tight end David Njoku took the Browns to the depths of their roster. The guy to watch was Ricky Seals-Jones. Browns coaches seemed to set up Seals-Jones with a surprise emergence. During the week, Kitchens minimized his comments when asked about Seals-Jones and coordinator Todd Monken spoke of Demetrius Harris needing to step up. Seals-Jones turned in big pass plays of 59 and 14 yards on back-to-back touchdown drives in the third quarter, and also had his first TD for the Browns from 9 yards.

5. Get it out: Mayfield was determined to get the ball out quickly. For the most part, he was effective and accurate, and held a 10-7 lead at halftime. On the touchdown drive, which consumed 8 minutes, 31 seconds, Mayfield completed 7 of 8 passes to six different receivers. Seals-Jones got the touchdown from 9 yards crossing to the middle of the end zone. The field goal drive was set up when Jarvis Landry grabbed a pass of about 15 yards, broke through some tackle attempts and found daylight -- but lost his balance. Landry ran about 50 yards before falling down as Seals-Jones tried to right him.

6. Red zone woes: Things got difficult for Mayfield when this possession reached inside the Ravens’ 20. From that point, Mayfield missed on 4 of 5 passes, not including another miss for Odell Beckham Jr. that was erased by a Baltimore defensive holding penalty. The Browns lost a replay review of an apparent bad spot on a Landry catch and lunge for the first-down marker. They converted fourth-and-1 from the 8 on a Mayfield sneak. Mayfield later barely got out of bounds on a keeper run and had to kick a 24-yard field goal after Mayfield’s frantic pass on third down was wide of Damion Ratley at the goal line.

7. Trickeration: While Mayfield concentrated on shorter, quicker throws, the longest pass was attempted by Beckham on a trick play that took an eternity to execute. From the Browns’ 45. Mayfield handed off to Chubb, Chubb handed off to Landry, and Landry pitched to Beckham. Beckham avoided a sack, stepped up and threw deep for Damion Ratley, who posted up safety Tony Jefferson at the Ravens’ 5-yard line. Jefferson appeared to interfere – the Browns should have challenged – but the ball zipped through Ratley’s hands.

8. Another Mayfield INT: Baltimore’s only score in the first half was set up by a Mayfield interception on which he threw sidearm for Landry through an inside passing lane. Landry was double-covered, however, and looked like he didn’t expect the ball. Cornerback Maurice Canady intercepted at the Browns’ 42. Lamar Jackson then made his biggest play of the first half – a run for 29 yards – and completed the TD drive with his only other play, a 9-yard toss to Miles Boykin in the middle of the end zone while rolling right.

9. Wizard’s words: Former Browns tight end and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome sits on the 25-member “blue ribbon panel” assembled by the Pro Football Hall of Fame that will select a special Centennial Class of 10 senior candidates, three contributors and two coaches for induction in the Hall of Fame in 2020. Newsome said he intends to “pound the table” for former owner Art Modell when this group meets. Former Browns on the large initial list of candidates for the Centennial Class include Mac Speedie, Gary Collins, John Wooten, Dick Schafrath, Bill Glass, Marty Schottenheimer and, yes, Doug Dieken. Other selectors on the blue ribbon panel with ties to the Browns are former GM Ernie Accorsi and coach Bill Belichick.