EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. had an 89-yard touchdown catch and a spectacular one-handed grab in his return to MetLife Stadium, and Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns did just enough to beat the short-handed and banged-up New York Jets 23-3 on Monday night.
Beckham, traded from the New York Giants in March, helped the Browns (1-1) bounce back from a 30-point loss to Tennessee in their opener to top the Jets (0-2).
“We got the ball in (No.) 13’s hands,” Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry said, “and let him go.”
New York lost quarterback Trevor Siemian to an ankle injury in the second quarter, and former Washington State quarterback Luke Falk — promoted from the practice squad earlier in the day — played the rest of the game. Siemian was starting in place of Sam Darnold, who is sidelined for at least a few weeks while recovering from mononucleosis.
Falk led the Jets on their longest drive of night to that point — 60 yards — but Le’Veon Bell could get only 1 yard on a fourth-and-2 pass, turning the ball over on downs at the Browns 11.
On the very next play, Mayfield hit Beckham with a slant pass, and the receiver outran the Jets’ defenders all the way to the end zone for an 89-yard TD that put Cleveland up 23-3 with 3:32 remaining in the third quarter.
“That did it and that was huge for us,” running back Nick Chubb said. “We took all the momentum away from them with that long run. After that, it was our game to lose.”
The touchdown came after Beckham called out Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams last Thursday, saying the coach — then with the Browns — instructed players to hurt him in a preseason game in 2017. Williams denied Beckham’s accusations, jokingly asking reporters: “Odell who?”
Williams, who led the Browns to a 5-3 record as their interim coach last season, also chided reporters for giving Beckham attention and would not call him one of the NFL’s most dynamic players.
Well, Williams clearly knows who Beckham is now. The coach was seen shouting angrily on the sideline after Beckham’s touchdown.
“Who?” Beckham, who finished with six catches for 161 yards, said when asked about Williams’ comments. “No, everybody has the right to their own opinion. He’s a phenomenal coach, he’s got a great defense, but I’m done talking about it, you know?”
— The Associated Press