The Hue Jackson era started much the same as the other Cleveland Browns’ coaches since the organization’s return to the National Football League in 1999…with a loss.
With the offense sputtering and a defense giving up big plays, the Browns suffered 29-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the regular-season opener for both teams at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday.
Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz completed 22 of his 37 attempts for 278 yards and two touchdowns, outpointing Browns starter Robert Griffin III, who completed 12 of his 26 throws for 190 yards with no touchdowns and one interception before being shaken up late in the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia wide receiver Jordan Matthews turned his seven catches into 114 yards and one touchdown and running back Ryan Matthews accounted for 77 yards and one score on 22 carries.
Browns wide receivers Terrelle Pryor (three catches, 68 yards) and Corey Coleman (two, 69) led the way for the offense.
Despite having a rookie quarterback and first-year head coach, the Eagles marched right down the field on their first drive of the 2016 season and took a 7-0 lead over the Browns with 9:50 to play in the first quarter.
On that first possession, Wentz completed four of his five passes for 57 yards with one touchdown, a 19-yard over-the-shoulder throw to Matthews along the left sideline in the end zone. Matthews got behind the coverage of cornerback Tramon Williams and hauled in the scoring pass.
The Eagles’ first drive of the season covered 75 yards in nine plays and featured one third-down conversion because of an encroachment penalty on second-year defensive lineman Xavier Cooper on third-and-three from Philadelphia’s 32-yard line.
On a 22-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis, the Eagles extended their lead over the Browns to 10-0 with 12:30 to play in the first half of the regular-season opener. Sturgis capped off a five-play, 31-yard drive that started in Browns territory.
On fourth-and-five from their own 41-yard line, the Browns called a fake punt for second-year running back Duke Johnson Jr. While trying to get around right end, Johnson was swallowed up by Eagles rookie outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill for a six-yard loss.
Wentz followed up the turnover on downs with a 28-yard pass to Matthews that moved the Eagles from the Browns’ 35-yard line to the seven. A one-yard pass from Wentz to Matthews and a two-yard run from Ryan Matthews moved the ball inside the five, but an incomplete pass on third down forced the field goal attempt.
It may have taken the Browns until the second quarter to get their first first down of the regular season, but they used the conversion to build momentum that ultimately led to a touchdown, which cut the Eagles’ lead to 10-7 with 9:11 to play in the second quarter.
Third-year Browns running back Isaiah Crowell capped off the seven-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run around left end on first-and-goal.
Griffin started the drive with an 11-yard completion to Pryor, and two plays later, he found Johnson for a 16-yard gain to Philadelphia’s 48-yard line.
After a false start from Pryor, Griffin went back to him for a gain of 44 yards. Pryor went stride for stride with Eagles defensive back Nolan Carroll down the left sideline and used his 6-foot-5 frame to swim around the defensive back and haul in the pass as he fell to the ground.
Two plays later, the Browns faced a third-and-goal from the eight-yard line, but Johnson drew a pass interference penalty from defensive back Malcolm Jenkins and gave the offense a fresh set of downs.
Sturgis converted his second field goal try of the game and increased the Eagles’ lead over the Browns to 13-7 with 27 seconds remaining in the first half of play. Sturgis capped off an 11-play, 60-yard drive that took 3:16 off the second-quarter clock.
The Browns trimmed the Eagles’ lead down to three points, 13-10, with a field goal on the opening drive of the second half.
Kicker Patrick Murray capped off a five-play, 58-yard drive with a 35-yard field goal, his first of the season and in nearly two years.
On the first play of the second half, Griffin found Coleman deep down the left side of the field for a 58-yard gain. Griffin used a play-action fake and then, stepped up in the pocket before connecting with Coleman for the big gainer. Coleman broke away from two defensive backs in order to catch the football.
The Eagles were mired in a bit of an offensive slump late in the first half and early in the third quarter, but a miscue from the Browns turned the tide of the game and gave the home team a 22-10 lead at Lincoln Financial Field.
On the Browns’ first play from scrimmage following a punt, center Cameron Erving rifled a first-and-10 snap from the 15-yard line over the head of Griffin and out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
On the ensuing drive, the Eagles went 73 yards in nine plays, and Wentz capped off the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nelson Agholor with 6:17 to play in the third quarter.