CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rookie Cade York kicked a go-ahead 58-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, Kareem Hunt scored two touchdowns and the Cleveland Browns spoiled Baker Mayfield’s bid for vengeance with a 26-24 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Nick Chubb ran for 141 yards and Hunt had 70 total yards from scrimmage as the Browns won their season opener for the first time since 2004.
Mayfield overcame a slow start by leading the Panthers back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit by running for a 7-yard touchdown and finding Robbie Anderson for a 75-yard touchdown strike. He then led the Panthers on a 64-yard drive in seven plays to set up Eddy Pineiro’s go-ahead field goal with 1:13 left in the game.
Jacoby Brissett, filling in for suspended Browns star Deshaun Watson, completed passes for 13 yards to Donovan Peoples-Jones and 9 yards to Amari Cooper to set up York’s winning kick, the longest for the franchise since 1984.
Mayfield, who spent four seasons with Cleveland prior to being traded in July, finished 16 of 27 for 235 yards.
The Browns harassed Mayfield for most of the game, sacking him four times and tipping five passes at the line of scrimmage.
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2018 also fumbled two shotgun snaps, took a delay of game penalty and threw an interception that led to Cleveland’s first touchdown.
Mayfield kept his emotions mostly in check until early in the fourth quarter when — trailing 20-7 — he dropped back to pass, saw an opening and raced up the middle for a touchdown, and then celebrated by riffling the ball off the inside wall of the stadium.
Carolina’s first five possessions resulted in just 13 net yards.
Grant Delpit’s interception of Mayfield led to a 1-yard touchdown pass from Brissett to a wide open Hunt. The score came after Panthers cornerback C.J. Henderson essentially tackled Amari Cooper in the end zone before the ball arrived, giving Cleveland a first-and-goal at the 1.
Hunt’s 24-yard TD run gave Cleveland a 14-0 lead.
Mayfield appeared to get some of his mojo back on Carolina’s sixth possession, connecting on a 50-yard pass with Ian Thomas to set up a 1-yard touchdown leap by Christian McCaffrey to cut the lead in half.
But after Panthers new kicker Eddy Pineiro sent the kickoff out of bounds, the Browns were able to add a field goal to make it a 17-7 game at the half.