Sunday's NFL: Browns dodge distractions, dismantle Dolphins
Cleveland — The distractions didn’t bother the Browns. The Dolphins didn’t get in their way either.
Jarvis Landry caught two touchdown passes against his former team and Cleveland won its third straight Sunday, 41-24, over the Miami Dolphins in the Browns’ first game since losing star defensive end Myles Garrett to a season-ending suspension.
Landry couldn’t wait to get back at the Dolphins (2-9), who had him for four seasons before they decided not to give him a long-term contract extension and traded him to Cleveland in 2018. He got his revenge, finishing with 10 catches for 148 yards.
“It didn’t mean extra, but it was fun,” Landry said, flashing a smile while speaking at his locker alongside teammate Odell Beckham Jr. “It feels great to get a win and to finish the game on a positive with everything that’s been going on.”
Baker Mayfield had 327 yards passing and hit a TD pass to Beckham, and Joe Schobert had two interceptions as the Browns continued their climb back into the AFC playoff hunt.
The lopsided win capped an emotionally complicated week for the Browns in the aftermath of Garrett being banned by the NFL for pulling off Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet and hitting him over the head with it. That touched off a wild brawl in the final seconds of Cleveland’s 21-7 win over the Steelers on Nov. 14.
Garrett’s appeal was denied this week in New York, where he told the league Rudolph used a racial slur, something the league said it didn’t find any evidence of.
On Saturday, the league fined Garrett and 32 other players from Pittsburgh and Cleveland for their roles in the ugly melee between the bitter rivals, who will meet against next Sunday at Heinz Field.
Browns owner Dee Haslam showed her support for Garrett by wearing a stocking cap on the sideline during pregame warmups bearing his No. 95.
The Browns managed to stay focused despite the endless talk revolving around Garrett and their upcoming rematch with the Steelers.
“It was only a controversy in the media, not in our locker room,” said defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who had two sacks. “Next man up. I was proud of the D-line and proud of the whole team for coming out there and doing what we’re supposed to do.”
With Garrett gone, there was more pressure on Cleveland’s offense to produce, and the unit came through. The Browns scored on four of five possessions inside the red zone.
Mayfield completed 24 of 34 passes, but threw his first interception in four weeks. Beckham had six catches for 84 yards, and AFC rushing leader Nick Chubb had 106 yards and a 5-yard TD run.
“When we got our chances we capitalized,” Mayfield said. “We still didn’t play good enough.”
Mayfield feasted on a Miami secondary missing three starters. He threw TD passes to Landry and Beckham in the first quarter, and hooked up with Landry again in the second quarter as the Browns opened a 21-0 lead.
The Dolphins helped dig their hole. They were called for three pass interference penalties in the first half to extend Cleveland drives, failed to convert on a faked punt, and finished the first quarter with 7 total yards.
More NFL games
Seattle 17, (at) Philadelphia 9: Rashaad Penny ran for a career-best 129 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown, Russell Wilson threw one TD pass and the Seahawks beat the Eagles.
Missing their top three wide receivers, leading rusher and two Pro Bowl offensive linemen, the Eagles (5-6) couldn’t do much on offense and hurt themselves with three turnovers inside Seattle territory and another near midfield.
The Seahawks (9-2) remain undefeated on the road in six games.
The Eagles didn’t have wideouts DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, running back Jordan Howard and right tackle Lane Johnson from the start. Right guard Brandon Brooks left in the first quarter. First-round pick Andre Dillard made his first career start at right tackle after playing the left side all season and was benched at halftime.
The Seahawks were without star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Philadelphia’s defense did its best to keep it close, sacking Wilson six times.
But Carson Wentz struggled again and the offense was awful. Wentz was 33-of-45 for 256 yards, one TD, two interceptions and lost two fumbles, including one on a handoff exchange.
Wilson was 13-of-25 for 200 yards, one TD and one pick.
(At) New England 13, Dallas 9: The Patriots held the Cowboys’ top-ranked offense without a TD for the first time this season as New England got its 18th straight regular-season victory at home.
Dallas (6-5) had a chance to take the lead late. But facing fourth-and-11 on its 25 with 1:50 left, Dak Prescott’s 20-yard apparent completion to Amari Cooper was nullified after an official review.
The Patriots (10-1), who struggled to move the ball in their win over Philadelphia last week, played without two key receivers after Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett were ruled out with injuries. Tom Brady made the most of what he had, tossing a first-quarter touchdown pass to rookie N’Keal Harry and completing a 32-yard pass to rookie Jakobi Meyers.
Brady finished 17-of-37 for 190 yards. Julian Edelman caught eight passes for 93 yards.
Dallas struggled to move the ball for most of the game. Ezekiel Elliott rushed 21 times or 86 yards, but the Cowboys were 2 of 13 on third down.
(At) San Francisco 37, Green Bay 8: Jimmy Garoppolo threw two long touchdown passes and the San Francisco harassed Aaron Rodgers all night, helping the 49ers rout Green Bay.
Garoppolo connected on a 42-yard touchdown strike to Deebo Samuel in the second quarter and a 61-yarder to George Kittle in the third to get San Francisco (10-1) off to a resounding start to a grueling three-game stretch.
Following the game against the first-place Packers (8-3), the Niners will travel to Baltimore (8-2) and New Orleans (9-2) the next two weeks in a stretch that will go a long way to determining whether San Francisco will be able to hold off Seattle (9-2) in a tight NFC West race.
Rodgers lost a fumble on the opening drive one of the five sacks he took and failed to convert a single third down on 13 tries before getting pulled late in the fourth quarter. He finished 20-for-33 for 104 yards and Green Bay averaged an anemic 1.7 yards per pass play when he was in the game.
Garoppolo put it away with the two long touchdowns, part of a day when he went 14-for-20 for 253 yards and most importantly committed no turnovers. He was helped by the return of Kittle, who had six catches for 129 yards in his first game back after missing the past two contests with injuries to his knee and ankle.
(At) Tennessee 42, Jacksonville 20: The Titans scored four touchdowns over six offensive plays in the third quarter for their second straight victory to keep themselves firmly in the AFC playoff hunt.
Ryan Tannehill ran for two TDs and threw two TDs to improve to 4-1 as Tennessee’s starter. Derrick Henry ran for two TDs just 16 seconds apart, and rookie receiver A.J. Brown capped the scoring spurt with a 65-yard TD catch that made it 35-3 with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
The Titans (6-5) are tied with Indianapolis and Oakland just outside the AFC’s final wild-card spot; those are their next two opponents, both on the road.
Jacksonville (4-7) lost its third straight, the past two since Nick Foles returned to the lineup.
The Jaguars had nine sacks in beating the Titans 20-7 in September with Marcus Mariota at quarterback for Tennessee. They sacked Tannehill only once, though they forced a pair of fumbles by Tennessee. Ranked 29th in the NFL against the run, the Jaguars gave up 219 yards as the Titans had a 471-369 edge in total offense.
Leonard Fournette had a pair of 1-yard TD runs and finished with 97 yards.
(At) N.Y. Jets 34, Oakland 3: Sam Darnold threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score for the Jets’ first three-game winning streak in over two years.
Brian Poole returned an interception 15 yards for a TD and the rest of the Jets defense made things miserable for Derek Carr, who was pulled by coach Jon Gruden with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Raiders (6-5) came into a rain-soaked MetLife Stadium on a three-game winning streak with an eye on a possible AFC West first-place showdown at Kansas City next week. Instead, they got outplayed by a suddenly resurgent Jets (4-7) team that pulled away in the second half.
Darnold was 20-of-29 for 315 yards — the fourth 300-yard game of his career — with TDs to Robby Anderson and Ryan Griffin in another efficient outing that helped New York to its first three-game winning streak since Weeks 3-5 of the 2017 season. The Jets didn’t punt until the 2-minute mark of the third quarter.
Carr fell to 2-9 in his career in games that started with the temperature below 50 degrees. The temperature at kickoff at the Meadowlands was 43 degrees.
(At) Buffalo 20, Denver 3: Josh Allen threw two touchdowns passing and Shaq Lawson had two of Buffalo’s four sacks. The Bills have their best record through 11 games in 23 years.
Buffalo improved to 8-3, to match its best start since Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s final season in 1996, while keeping the Bills firmly in position to secure their second playoff berth in three years.
John Brown made a diving 34-yard touchdown catch, and Cole Beasley scored on an 18-yard reception. Allen finished 15-of-25 for 185 yards and threw his first interception in 172 attempts.
Frank Gore had 65 yards rushing to up his total to 15,289 and move ahead of boyhood idol Barry Sanders into third on the NFL career list. The 15-year veteran also increased his total to 19,154 yards from scrimmage to pass Marshall Faulk for fourth on the list.
Rookie Ed Oliver and Star Lotulelei had a sack apiece, while cornerback Tre’Davious White snuffed out a potential scoring drive by intercepting Brandon Allen at the Buffalo 8 in the final minute of the first half.
The Broncos dropped to 3-8 in Vic Fangio’s first season as coach.
Pittsburgh 16, (at) Cincinnati 10: Devlin “Duck” Hodges took over for struggling Mason Rudolph and threw a 79-yard touchdown pass, sparking the depleted Steelers and keeping the Bengals the only winless team in the NFL.
Hodges connected with James Washington on the game-turning play in the third quarter, leaving Pittsburgh (6-5) with a quarterback decision as it moves forward without Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers defense has steadied them through the transition, and it had a major impact in Pittsburgh’s 10th straight win over the hapless Bengals (0-11), who set franchise records for worst start and longest losing streak.
Tyler Boyd made a catch and was stripped by Devin Bush at the Steelers 8-yard line in the fourth quarter, preserving the lead. Bud Dupree sacked Ryan Finley and forced a fumble that he recovered with 2:38 left, closing it out.
What’s left of the Steelers offense — hollowed out by injuries and a suspension — struggled in the first half and prompted coach Mike Tomlin to switch from Rudolph to Hodges, who provided an immediate boost. His touchdown pass to Washington gave the Steelers a 10-7 lead and got thousands of Terrible Towels twirling at Paul Brown Stadium.
Hodges filled in for one game after Rudolph suffered a concussion and directed a 24-17 win over the Chargers on Oct. 13. Tomlin went back to Rudolph as soon as he was healthy.
Now, he’s got a big decision as the Steelers try to stay in the playoff chase.
Tampa Bay 35, (at) Atlanta 22: Massive defensive lineman Vita Vea turned receiver to haul in his first career touchdown, one of three scoring throws by Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay escaped last place in the NFC South.
Winston shook off two more interceptions to post his sixth straight 300-yard passing game, leading the Buccaneers (4-7) to just their second victory in the last seven games.
Atlanta (3-8) had pulled even with Tampa Bay at the bottom of the division standings with a modest two-game winning streak. But the Falcons couldn’t keep the momentum going, dropping to 1-4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in what has become a lost season for a team that reached the Super Bowl just three years ago.
Winston has been picked off an NFL-high 20 times but completed 18 of 28 for 313 yards, including a pair of touchdown passes to Chris Godwin. Yet the scoring play everyone will remember was a little 1-yard pass in the final minute of the first half to Vea, a 6-foot-4, 347-pound defensive lineman.
With the Bucs facing second-and-goal, Vea checked into the game — apparently to provide an extra blocker. After lining up at fullback, he slipped into the flat on play-action by Winston, going completely uncovered as he gobbled up the short pass for his first career reception.