His new team — the Cleveland Browns — are starting to feel a bit like it’s the good old days, too.
Mayfield set a Browns rookie record with four touchdown passes in another growing-up-fast performance, and Cleveland ended one of the NFL’s longest streaks of road futility on Sunday with a 35-20 victory over the hapless Cincinnati Bengals, who lost quarterback Andy Dalton to a thumb injury.
Cleveland (4-6-1) won on the road for the first time since 2015, emphatically snapping a streak of 25 straight road losses that was one shy of the Lions’ NFL record. The Browns also ended a run of seven straight losses to their intrastate rival after trading trash talk on the field beforehand.
“We’re tired of being disrespected,” safety Jabrill Peppers said.
“Before the game, they said, ‘Why are you talking? You play for the Browns.’ What does that even mean?”
Just as unabashed Browns safety Damarious Randall had predicted, it wasn’t even close.
The Browns surged ahead 28-0 as former head coach Hue Jackson watched helplessly from the opposite sideline. Jackson couldn’t win with the Browns — only three victories in two-plus seasons. Nor could he beat them as a special defensive assistant with the Bengals (5-6), who lost for the fifth time in six games.
The Browns were bothered by the sight of their former coach on the other sideline plotting against them.
“Somebody who was in our locker room is asking us to play for him, and then he goes to a different team,” said Mayfield, who didn’t say much to Jackson when they met on the field after the game.
By that point, words weren’t really necessary.
Randall had predicted during the week that if Bengals receiver A.J. Green didn’t play, the Browns would dominate. Green was out again with a toe injury, and Randall had a hand in making his prediction hold up.
He picked off Dalton in the second quarter, ran out of bounds and handed the ball to Jackson , who was fired last month by the Browns.
Jackson responded by tapping him on the helmet.
“He just said thank you for the ball,” Randall said.
Mayfield was at the center of it all, completing 14 of 18 passes as the Browns surged ahead by 21 points. He was coming off his best game, a three-TD performance during a 28-16 win over Atlanta that sent Cleveland into its bye week.
Mayfield finished 19 of 26 for 258 yards as the Browns essentially ran out the clock in the second half, when he threw only four passes.
The first half reminded him of his high-scoring games at Oklahoma.
“A little bit, yeah,” he said. “Everything seemed to be working. But that’s the way we want it here in Cleveland.”
Dalton hurt the thumb on his passing hand while trying to recover a fumble in the third quarter and didn’t return. He was still being evaluated after the game. The Browns turned the fumble recovery into Mayfield’s fourth TD pass for a 35-7 lead. Dalton was 10 of 17 for 100 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
From the opening drive, it was all Cleveland. The Browns’ 28 first-half points were their most since 1991, when they scored 31 against the Colts.
“It hurts,” Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd said. “It hurts a lot.”
Cleveland’s last road win was 33-30 in overtime at Baltimore on Oct. 11, 2015. The Browns have won consecutive games for the first time since 2014. They’ve won back-to-back games by double digits for the first time since 2013.
Mayfield has thrown for multiple touchdowns in each of his last five starts, the first Browns rookie to accomplish the feat. He’s the first Browns quarterback to throw for at least three TDs in consecutive games since Derek Anderson in 2007. In eight starts, he has thrown 17 TD passes, the most by a Browns rookie.
CAN’T TOUCH THIS
In his last two games, Mayfield hasn’t been sacked while throwing seven TD passes without an interception.
The Browns scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time in 14 games. It was the third straight game the Bengals allowed an opening touchdown.
CHUBB KEEPS ROLLING
Cleveland running back Nick Chubb had another big day, running 1 yard for a touchdown and catching a 14-yard TD pass over Brandon Wilson. He’s the third rookie in NFL history to have a rushing and a receiving TD in two consecutive games.
Browns: Cleveland came out of its bye week as healthy as it’s been all season.
Bengals: CB Dre Kirkpatrick also was inactive with shoulder injury.
LT Cordy Glenn was out with a back injury, and fill-in Jake Fisher hurt his back late in the first half. CB Tony McRae suffered a concussion in the third quarter and gave two thumbs-up as he was wheeled off the field.
The Browns play at Houston on Sunday.
The Bengals host the Broncos on Sunday.
By JOE KAY, Associated Press