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Another heartbreaker: Late-game miscues doom Cleveland Browns in 33-29 season-opening loss to Kansas City Chiefs

Cleveland still hasn't started 1-0 since 2004.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. β€” It was another instant classic that ended in devastation for fans on the shores of Lake Erie.

The Browns fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 33-29 in Sunday's 2021 NFL season opener. KC never led until the fourth quarter, but several mistakes doomed Cleveland late.

Baker Mayfield was excellent with 321 passing yards, but his interception on the Browns' final drive sealed the victory for the Chiefs. Nick Chubb also has a costly third-quarter fumble despite rushing for 83 yards and a touchdown, while punter Jamie Gillan dropped a snap deep in Cleveland territory to set up what proved to be the deciding score.

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Patrick Mahomes was, as always, magnificent, going 27 for 36 for 337 yards and three TDs. Tyreek Hill caught 11 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, and Cleveland Heights native Travis Kelce added six grabs for 76 yards and two scores.

The Browns still have not won a season opener since 2004, and are a dreadful 1-21-1 in such games since returning to the league in 1999. They'll have a chance to get their first win of the year next Sunday afternoon against the Houston Texans, the first full-capacity game at FirstEnergy Stadium in almost two years.

What follows is a comprehensive drive-by-drive live blog of today's action, with the most recent plays and updates closest to the top. Stay turned for more analysis on WKYC.com and 3News.


1:09: The Browns' chances at victory are dashed as Mike Hughes intercepts Baker Mayfield at the 42-yard line. The Chiefs will take over and go into victory formation.

2:49: The Browns' defense finally comes up with a big stop, as Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney team up to sack Patrick Mahomes on third down. Demetric Felton returns Tommy Townsend's punt to the KC 17, with the Browns will begin their drive with a chance to win the game.

5:20: The Browns are forced to punt again, but this time Jamie Gillan gets it away. Mecole Hardman returns the kick 7 yards to the Chiefs 27.

7:04 - Chiefs 33, Browns 29: For the first time today, the Chiefs are out in front, as Patrick Mahomes fires to Travis Kelce for an 8-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt is no good, and the lead remains four.

8:36: Utter catastrophe for the Browns, and after a three-and-out, Jamie Gillan comes out for his first punt only to mishandle the snap. He ends up being forced to run the ball and is thrown for an eight-yard loss, and the Chiefs will take over at the Cleveland 15 with a chance to take the lead.

10:10 - Browns 29, Chiefs 27: And just like that, it's a one-score game again, as Tyreek Hill burns John Johnson III for a 75-yard touchdown off a fantastic throw from Patrick Mahomes.

10:24 - Browns 29, Chiefs 20: The Browns answer right back, as Willoughby South alum Kareem Hunt caps off a nine-play drive with a 2-yard TD run against his former team. The score was set up by a massive 30-yard bomb from Baker Mayfield to David Njoku.


0:32 - Browns 22, Chiefs 20: The Chiefs take advantage of the turnover, but a Joe Jackson sack of Patrick Mahomes helps keep them out of the end zone. They settle for a 43-yard Harrison Butker field goal.

5:56: Disaster for the Browns, as after two strong runs Nick Chubb coughs the ball up. The Chiefs recover and will take over at their own 47.

7:27 - Browns 22, Chiefs, 17: The Chiefs find their groove and take up more than half the quarter on a 14-play drive that ends with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to Cleveland Heights native Travis Kelce.

Also, Jedrick Wills Jr. has officially been ruled out with an ankle injury.


0:00: The Browns almost pull off an unbelievable play in the final seconds, as Baker Mayfield finds Jarvis Landry who then pitches it back to Mayfield, who in turn pitches it to Kareem Hunt with a chance to score. Unfortunately, he is tackled at the Chiefs 12, and we head into halftime with Cleveland up 22-10.

1:31: For the first time, we have a punt, and the Chiefs' Tommy Townsend manages to pin the Browns back at their own 1-yard line.

2:55 - Browns 22, Chiefs 10: Another great drive by the Browns is littered with big plays: First a long end around run by Anthony Schwartz, then Jarvis Landry runs for a first down on an RPO play, and then finally Nick Chubb dashes 18 yards for the score.

Also an update on Jedrick Wills Jr.: He has been diagnosed with a right ankle injury and is questionable to return.

6:30 - Browns 15, Chiefs 10: Patrick Mahomes looks healthy again... The Chiefs QB alludes several defenders before making his way into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown run.

13:28 - Browns 15, Chiefs 3: A long bomb from Baker Mayfield to rookie Anthony Schwartz sets up a fourth-and-1 from the Chiefs 5. Jarvis Landry takes the end around handoff to the goal line, and upon further review, it is indeed a touchdown.

Some bad news for Cleveland, however, as left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. had to be helped off the field after hurting himself on the scoring play. He has since been carted to the locker room.


1:51 - Browns 8, Chiefs 3: An eventful series, so let's start with the football: Patrick Mahomes leads the Chiefs on a 71-yard drive that stalls on the Browns 10, forcing a successful 28-yard field goal by Harrison Butker.

But earlier in the possession, there was an incident on the Kansas City sideline that saw Cleveland safety Ronnie Harrison get into a shoving match with an assistant coach. Both teams received 15-yard flags, but Harrison was also ejected from the game.

7:53 - Browns 8, Chiefs 0: What a way to start the season: Baker Mayfield leads the Browns on a 13-play drive that ends in a 4-yard Nick Chubb touchdown run. Following a penalty on the Chiefs, Kevin Stefanski elects to go for two from the 1-yard line, and Kareem Hunt pounds it in.


3:55 p.m.: Check out some photos from 3News' Shawn Dunagan, who is in Kansas City with Will Ujek. There are plenty of Browns fans in Missouri as well:

3:44 p.m.: Much has been made about the return of Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns' offense, but that will not happen today, as the former All-Pro has been ruled out as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered last season.

Other inactives for Cleveland include:

  • S Grant Delpit
  • LB Tony Fields II
  • OG Michael Dunn
  • DT Tommy Togiai
  • OT James Hudson III
  • K Chris Naggar