EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — If first indications are accurate, the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants hit it right in taking Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley with the top two picks in the NFL draft.
Mayfield threw two touchdowns in two-plus quarters and Barkley ripped off a dazzling 39-yard run on the opening play from scrimmage as the Browns beat the Giants 20-10 on Thursday night.
“I’m aware that it was the first game and in that respect, it’s not so bad,” Mayfield said after showing why the Browns made him the top pick.
Replacing starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor late in the first quarter, Mayfield hit 11 of 20 passes for 212 yards, didn’t turn the ball over and converted two fourth-down plays with his feet.
“I thought he did some good things out there,” Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said. “I’m honestly not surprised by anything Baker does. This was his first opportunity and he’ll grow from it.”
The Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma found tight end David Njoku on a 10-yard TD pass to cap a 14-play, 72-yard drive on his second series. He finished his debut with a completion on a 54-yard slant and run to fellow rookie Antonio Callaway .
Taylor, expected to be coach Jackson’s starter as Mayfield learns this season, hit all five of his passes in two series, including a 36-yard touchdown pass to Njoku , a New Jersey native.
Barkley electrified the fans at MetLife Stadium, taking a handoff from Eli Manning on his first NFL touch and turning on the jets on a 39-yard jaunt down the sideline in front of the Giants’ bench. It set up a 42-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas.
“I loved his first run,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said of the Penn State halfback. “If only they all could be like that. You could see, it wasn’t too big for him.”
Barkley scoffed at the idea he made something out of nothing on the play. There was a hole, he said.
“Everybody talks about the speed difference in the NFL, but to see you still have that burst and you can get to that line of scrimmage like that and create space; I just have to find a way to gain even more yards than that,” said Barkley, who finished with 43 yards on five carries.
SAINTS 24, JAGUARS 20: Blake Bortles completed 6 of 9 passes for 53 yards and scored on a short bootleg in Jacksonville’s 24-20 loss to New Orleans in the exhibition opener for both teams Thursday night.
Saints star Drew Brees got the night off, allowing backup Tom Savage to play the first half. Savage completed 10 of 14 passes for 70 yards. Brees only played in one preseason game in 2017.
RAVENS 33, RAMS 7: Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass on his only series of the game, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson ran for a score and Baltimore rolled over the Los Angeles Rams.
Baltimore (2-0) led 17-0 after the first period and cruised to the finish against the Rams (0-1), who rested offensive stars Jared Goff and Todd Gurley.
PANTHERS 28, BILLS 23: Buffalo receiver Kelvin Benjamin and former teammate Panthers quarterback Cam Newton exchanged words on the field about 90 minutes before kickoff. Then they each played key roles in touchdowns drives in the first quarter.
Benjamin caught four passes for 59 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown reception from Nathan Peterman on Buffalo’s first possession.
Newton responded on the next possession, completing 4 of 5 attempts for 67 yards as part of an 85-yard drive capped by Christian McCaffrey’s 2-yard run.
BENGALS 30, BEARS 27: Andy Dalton made a solid debut in Cincinnati’s revamped offense, throwing for a pair of touchdowns as the Bengals beat the Chicago Bears.
Dalton went 6 of 8 for 103 yards, completing four passes of at least 20 yards. He also had an interception that wasn’t his fault — John Ross fell on his route and Kyle Fuller returned the pickoff 47 yards to the end zone.
BUCCANEERS 26, DOLPHINS 24: Ryan Tannehill completed passes on the first four plays in his return from two serious injuries to his left knee, sparking a 40-yard drive that ended with a missed field goal in his only series, and Miami lost to Tampa Bay.
New Buccaneers kicker Chandler Catanzaro made a 26-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to cap a 67-yard drive and give them the win.
STEELERS 31, EAGLES 14: Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs each tossed touchdown passes as Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia.
Jones completed all four of his passes for 83 yards, including a 71-yard TD pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster in the first quarter.
PATRIOTS 26, REDSKINS 17: Colt McCoy outplayed Brian Hoyer in a scrimmage of backup quarterbacks, while Tom Brady and Alex Smith stayed on the sidelines.
McCoy completed 13 of 18 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns as Washington opened 17-0 lead in the first half. Hoyer struggled against the Washington starters, but drove New England to a pair of second-half touchdowns, including Ralph Webb’s 8-yard run for a score followed by the catch on a 2-point conversion that gave New England its first lead.
PACKERS 31, TITANS 17: Marcus Mariota was 2 of 3 for 42 yards with a 4-yard scoring pass to Darius Jennings on the opening drive of Mike Vrabel’s first preseason game as Titans coach. Mariota also had one carry for 7 yards before leaving after the nine-play series.
Packers backup Brett Hundley showed glimpses of improvement under center, going 6 of 8 for 95 yards and an 8-yard score to running back Jamaal Williams on the drive after Tennessee’s score.
TEXANS 17, CHIEFS 10: Patrick Mahomes finished 5 of 7 for 33 yards on two drives in Kansas City’s loss to Houston.
Houston’s Deshaun Watson, who’s coming back from a torn ACL, was used sparingly. He threw only one pass — a 4-yard completion to wide receiver Bruce Ellington — during a five-play drive to midfield that featured four handoffs to running back Lamar Miller.
COLTS 19, SEAHAWKS 17: Andrew Luck returned to game action for the first time since the final week of the 2016 season, leading Indianapolis on a pair of field-goal drives in just over a quarter in the Colts’ 19-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night.
Luck completed 6 of 9 passes for 64 yards, most of that coming on the opening drive when he hit 5 of 7. Luck completed passes to five receivers and threw from a clean pocket on most of his dropbacks, even with starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo not playing.
49ERS 24, COWBOYS 21: Dak Prescott made the most of his brief appearance in the preseason opener for Dallas by throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to rookie Michael Gallup before San Francisco rallied with two late touchdowns to beat the Cowboys.
Nick Mullens threw a 7-yard TD pass to Richie James Jr. with 18 seconds left to cap the comeback. Jeremy McNichols scored on a 1-yard run with 4:24 to go for San Francisco.