CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers lost their first regular season game of the 2022 football season after the Cleveland Browns made a field goal attempt in the final seconds of the game.
Kareem Hunt scored two touchdowns and the Cleveland Browns spoiled Baker Mayfield’s bid for vengeance with a 26-24 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Rookie Cade York left the Panthers just 8 seconds on the clock after he made the 58-yard field goal, which was not enough time for Carolina to answer.
The Panthers kicked a 34-yard goal earlier in the game, leaving 1:13 left to play. That’s when Cleveland stepped in to earn the win.
Nick Chubb ran for 141 yards and Hunt had 70 total yards from scrimmage as the Browns won their season opener for the first time since 2004.
Mayfield overcame a slow start by leading the Panthers back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit by running for a 7-yard touchdown and finding Robbie Anderson for a 75-yard touchdown strike. He then led the Panthers on a 64-yard drive in seven plays to set up Eddy Pineiro’s go-ahead field goal with 1:13 left in the game.
Jacoby Brissett, filling in for suspended Browns star Deshaun Watson, completed passes for 13 yards to Donovan Peoples-Jones and 9 yards to Amari Cooper to set up York’s winning kick, the longest for the franchise since 1984.
Mayfield, who spent four seasons with Cleveland prior to being traded in July, finished 16 of 27 for 235 yards.
The Browns harassed Mayfield for most of the game, sacking him four times and tipping five passes at the line of scrimmage.
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2018 also fumbled two shotgun snaps, took a delay of game penalty and threw an interception that led to Cleveland’s first touchdown.
Mayfield kept his emotions mostly in check until early in the fourth quarter when — trailing 20-7 — he dropped back to pass, saw an opening and raced up the middle for a touchdown, and then celebrated by riffling the ball off the inside wall of the stadium.
Carolina’s first five possessions resulted in just 13 net yards.
Grant Delpit’s interception of Mayfield led to a 1-yard touchdown pass from Brissett to a wide open Hunt. The score came after Panthers cornerback C.J. Henderson essentially tackled Amari Cooper in the end zone before the ball arrived, giving Cleveland a first-and-goal at the 1.
Hunt’s 24-yard TD run gave Cleveland a 14-0 lead.
Mayfield appeared to get some of his mojo back on Carolina’s sixth possession, connecting on a 50-yard pass with Ian Thomas to set up a 1-yard touchdown leap by Christian McCaffrey to cut the lead in half.
But after Panthers new kicker Eddy Pineiro sent the kickoff out of bounds, the Browns were able to add a field goal to make it a 17-7 game at the half.
Fans decked out in Panther jerseys filled local bars and restaurants throughout the Queen City Sunday.
Channel 9′s Glenn Counts spoke with fans at Dilworth Bar and Grill who said they were anxious to see how Baker Mayfield would perform as the new quarterback.
They said they hoped he could make a difference after a couple of disappointing seasons.
“I think they are a little more energized with some new faces on the team,” fan Becky Forbes said.
“They’re just like the little engine that can. I think I can! I think I can! I think I can! They need to get it going,” fan John Payne told Counts.
Mayfield says season-opener against Browns wasn’t about revenge
When the Carolina Panthers opened their 2022 NFL Season, the team’s new face at the helm of the offense matched up with a team he knows well -- the Cleveland Browns.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield said he was gearing up to take the fight to his former team and he’s excited to play against some familiar faces.
“You get to smack talk a little bit with your buddies that you’ve been with for a little bit, and you know how to poke and prod and get the best out of them,” Mayfield told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the season opener.
Mayfield took center stage for the first time as Panthers quarterback in front of the home crowd at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. He told Channel 9 Sports Director Phil Orban that he was up for the challenge.
To be clear, Mayfield says it was not a revenge game. Yes, he played the team that cast him aside this past offseason, but Mayfield said he harbors no ill will for the franchise, his old teammates or the fans in Cleveland.
But, as fans who have watched him play know, Mayfield plays the game with passion. It’s one of the reasons the Panthers liked him so much. The quarterback admitted there is a little extra juice with the game ahead.
“As soon as you get the first snap under your belt try to relax a little bit,” he said. “Let it play one play at a time and that’s all that matters, and just put our team in the best position to win, that’s my job.”
He said it isn’t uncharted territory. In college, Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma from Texas Tech then played and beat the Red Raiders in subsequent years. He leaned on that experience, and his time in other big games, to keep his emotions even.
Mayfield said his goals for Sunday were simple. Take care of the ball and let the talented defense due the rest.
It wasn’t a bad plan with rain in the forecast for Sunday.
No injuries reported.
Browns: Host Jets on Sunday.
Panthers: At Giants on Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(WATCH BELOW: Baker Mayfield named Panthers’ starting quarterback)
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