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 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 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’s sidelined for at least a few weeks while recovering from mononucleosis.
The Jets couldn’t get anything going on offense, and the Browns blew open the game late in the third quarter.
Falk led the Jets on their longest drive of night to that point – 60 yards – but Le’Veon Bell could only get 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 wouldn’t 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.
And, that wasn’t all for Beckham, who finished with six catches for 161 yards and the TD.
“Who?” Beckham 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? We won, so I just tried to make plays to help the team.”
He helped the Browns take a 3-0 lead on their first possession on Austin Seibert’s 23-yard field goal – a drive highlighted by a spectacular 33-yard, one-handed grab that got Cleveland down to the Jets 4.
It was reminiscent of Beckham’s highlight-reel, one-handed reception for the Giants on “Sunday Night Football” as a rookie in 2014. On this one, Mayfield found Beckham down the right sideline, and the receiver stuck out his right hand to snare the ball behind Nate Hairston – in nearly the same spot as his big catch five years ago.
And, yes, Beckham was wearing his expensive watch – despite the NFL telling him last week not to.
Beckham then had to come out of the game briefly because officials made him change his mirrored visor, saying it was reflective. He returned with a clear visor on his helmet.
Seibert’s 48-yarder gave the Browns a 6-0 lead with 6:15 left in the opening quarter as Cleveland outgained New York 101-4 in the first quarter.
Chubb’s 19-yard touchdown run put Cleveland up 13-0 in the second quarter. The drive was helped by a defensive holding call on Hairston – starting in place of Trumaine Johnson – on fourth-and-2 from the Jets 24.
“We’ve got to take a hard look at this and figure out what’s going on,” Jets coach Adam Gase said.
Siemian was knocked out of the game after throwing a long incomplete pass to Ryan Griffin and Cleveland’s Myles Garrett slammed into him, and fell on top of him. Siemian appeared to roll his left ankle as Garrett, who was penalized for roughing the passer, sent him to the turf.
Siemian was on crutches and his left foot in a walking boot in the locker room. He will have an MRI on Tuesday.
Falk replaced Siemian with 7:58 left in the half and helped the Jets get their first points to cheers of “Luuuke!”
Sam Ficken, the Jets’ fourth kicker since July, booted a 46-yarder – and got loud cheers from the crowd who had seen the likes of Chandler Catanzaro, Taylor Bertolet and Kaare Vedvik struggle.
Siemian finished 3 of 6 for 3 yards, while Falk was 20 of 25 for 198 yards as the Jets lost their seventh straight at home, dating to last season.
Browns defensive end Chris Smith played after his girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was killed in a car accident last week.
The 26-year-old Cordero was killed after she exited Smith’s Lamborghini and was standing on the highway’s shoulder when she was hit by an oncoming car.
Stanton on IR
Browns backup quarterback Drew Stanton (Michigan State) has been placed on injured reserve.
Stanton, who has been listed as No. 2 on Cleveland’s depth chart behind Baker Mayfield, injured his knee during practice last week. He first appeared on the injury report Friday.
With Stanton out, Garrett Gilbert will be behind Mayfield when the Browns play the New York Jets on Monday night. Gilbert has appeared in one NFL game since 2014.
The 35-year-old Stanton has made 17 career starts since being selected by the Detroit Lions in 2007. Coach Freddie Kitchens has praised Stanton for his experience and steadiness.
The Browns also signed running back Elijah McGuire to the active roster from their practice squad. McGuire gives the Browns depth with Dontrell Hilliard out with a concussion sustained last week against Tennessee.