‘Have to get better’: Stefanski looks to Thursday after unbeaten Cardinals batter Browns 37-14

Sports

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, left, touches the helmet of quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) after an injury during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyler Murray threw four touchdown passes as the Arizona Cardinals remained the NFL’s only unbeaten team and continued their best start since 1974 — without coach Kliff Kingsbury on Sunday — with a 37-14 win over the battered, reeling Cleveland Browns.

The Browns (3-3) have lost two straight under coach Kevin Stefanski for the first time and Cleveland has bigger concerns, most notably to a growing list of major injuries. The latest was to running back Kareem Hunt, carted to the locker room in the fourth quarter with a calf injury.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Hunt did not injure his Achilles tendon and will undergo further imaging on Monday.

Mayfield reinjured his left shoulder but plans to play Thursday night against Denver.

“I mean, it dislocated again and then slipped out again on a non-contact play, so just got to figure out a way to get better,” he said following the game.

Cleveland was already missing star running back Nick Chubb (calf) and the Browns, who host Denver on Thursday night, played without both their starting offensive tackles.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. briefly left with a shoulder issue. Mayfield committed three turnovers: two fumbles and an interception.

The Browns were trailing 23-14 when Cardinals star defensive end J.J. Watt chased down Mayfield and forced a fumble by sweeping out the QB’s legs. Mayfield stayed down for several minutes — with Watt kneeling nearby — and was twice examined in the medical tent, but stayed in.

After his fumble, Murray made the Browns pay by throwing a 9-yard pass to a wide-open Hopkins to put the Cardinals ahead 30-14.

Later, Hunt was not targeted on a pass play and the bruising back crumpled to the ground without contact. He was unable to put any weight on his leg while being assisted to the sideline.

Desperate for a positive play, the Browns got one on the final snap of the first half as Mayfield completed a 57-yard TD pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones.

A week ago, Mayfield attempted a similar “Hail Mary” on the last play in a 47-42 loss to the Chargers.

“Taking some momentum into halftime. The defense came out and got a stop,” Mayfield said. “We just were not able to score at the beginning of the third quarter to truly change that game. It was one of those days. We could not get things going. They had a good plan for us and got punched in the mouth.”

Cleveland’s defense helped the Cardinals by committing four penalties for 43 yards on Arizona’s second scoring drive. Two of the calls went against tackle Malik McDowell, for face masking and roughing on Murray.

Stefanski said his team needs to continue to improve in nearly every area of the game.

“We are a 3-3 football team, which means we are average across the board so we all have to get better,” he said.

LANDRY ON DECK

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry could return Thursday. The five-time Pro Bowler missed his fourth game with a sprained medial collateral ligament.

Landry was designated for return from injured reserve Friday, clearing the way for him to be activated. Before getting hurt on Sept. 19 and then missing the next game, Landry had never missed a game due to injury in his eight-year career.

INJURIES

Cardinals: DL Rashard Lawrence (calf) didn’t play in the second half. … TE Darrell Daniels suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and didn’t return.

Browns: Rookie LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah went to the locker room in the fourth period with an unspecified injury.

UP NEXT

Browns: little time to heal with the Broncos coming in for the second of Cleveland’s three home games in two weeks.

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