CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns made a statement when they won the coin toss, took the ball and quarterback Baker Mayfield opened the preseason with a scoring drive on the first possession of the game, as his touchdown pass to Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins gave Cleveland an early lead over Washington with 12:47 to play in the first quarter from FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
The Browns never slowed down on their way to a 30-10 victory.
Facing a first-and-10 from Washington’s 24-yard line, Mayfield took the snap from center JC Tretter and fired a throw down the left hashmarks to Higgins, who broke free between the second and third-level defenders to create the window for the touchdown pass.
Mayfield was five of six for 77 yards with the touchdown pass on the first drive of the game.
“It is great,” Mayfield said. “We have to have guys. We always say ‘next man up.’ We have to have that mentality. Whoever is in there has to have success and have to be able to play. Just having those guys out there and doing well that first drive means a lot. We will go back and watch the tape. We weren’t perfect at all. A lot of things to work on, but a lot of good things that happened.
“We were calling it as it goes. We kind of had an idea of what we wanted to do not really knowing exactly what they were going to come out when we were playing that fast. It was just seeing the adjustments and checking the ball down when they are carrying their seams and stuff like that. Get the ball down to your back quickly and let them do some work, and they did a good job.”
Mayfield’s first preseason touchdown picked up where he left off last season in developing a rapport with Higgins.
The two combined on four touchdowns during the 2018 season.
“I think it goes back to last year getting reps with him in camp in the second team,” Mayfield said. “Just building chemistry with him and being able to talk to him all the time and just knowing exactly what you are going to get out of him on every play.”
Higgins added, “Baker is smart. He is going on his second year and there is a lot of development that he has completed, and we only saw a taste of it today. He did a great job of reading coverages and doing what he does, which is win games.”
On that opening drive, Mayfield’s first pass fell incomplete, but it was the last of his throws that hit the ground.
Mayfield completed an 11-yard throw to wide receiver Jaelen Strong, and then, followed it up with a 14-yard throw to running back Nick Chubb. After Chubb broke off a 12-yard run behind right guard, Mayfield completed back-to-back passes to running back Dontrell Hilliard.
Hilliard’s receptions set up the 24-yard touchdown pass to Higgins.
“I thought it was a good drive,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “We did not have a third down. We were working our two-minute offense. I thought that was what they were supposed to do. They are supposed to get completions and big chunk plays. When we hand the ball off, we are supposed to block for Nick. I thought we did a good job outside, inside and everywhere. It was a really nice first drive.”