CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns got smacked with a hefty dose of reality on Sunday.
The Browns and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield had a long day, as the receiver-depleted offense struggled to get anything going and Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and the Los Angeles Chargers took advantage of every opportunity.
The Chargers' 38-14 win was more one-sided than the score would indicate.
“Did not play well,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “Like I said, it starts with me on down through the coaches and to our players. I do not even think that it got away; I do not know if we ever got our hand on it. We just did not play well.”
Mayfield struggled through his longest day in the NFL. He was sacked three times in the first quarter alone, and five times total. He turned an ankle running out of bounds on a first-quarter scramble. He threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted on the first play of the second half that set up a Chargers touchdown. He threw another interception in the fourth quarter.
“I’m going to be very hard on myself,” said Mayfield, who doesn't expect his ankle to be an issue. “But we have to be able to look at this and learn from it. Have to be more prepared coming into next week. It doesn’t matter what’s happened. It doesn’t matter the buzz. You have to do your job each week or else it’s just the nature of this game: It’s so competitive in this league that if you don’t do your job that’s what can happen.
“I’ll be the first to tell I’m going to go to work and I’m going to get it fixed."
Mayfield looked indecisive at times, uncertain at others, some of the issues perhaps caused by the Browns' injuries at receiver.
The Browns opened the game without Rashard Higgins and Derrick Willies, who were injured in their Week 5 win over Baltimore and during Friday's practice, respctively. On a first-quarter punt, Rod Streater left the game with a neck injury.
That left the Browns with three active receivers. One was inconsistent rookie Antonio Callaway, along with rookie Damion Ratley, who had not played before Sunday. The fact that both could not haul in potential touchdown passes in the first half did not help the cause.
“Those are the type plays that we need to have,” Mayfield said. “When you get your opportunity you have to take advantage of it. We have to watch this and we have to learn from it.”
The offense sputtered and did not get in the end zone until the Browns were down by 29. At that point, the game was more or less decided.
At times Mayfield did not seem to have anyone open.
At other times he seemed indecisive, perhaps caused by the lack of experience with the players on the field.
At other times he made bad throws.
And at other times he was pressured. Mayfield took several hits, far more than the Browns would prefer.
Meanwhile, the defense gave up touchdown drives of 57, 89, 77, 10 (following the interception) and 81 yards. The Chargers rushed for 246 yards, 6.8 per carry.
This was a very long day, a major beatdown. The 24-point loss matches the second-biggest defeat in the Hue Jackson era. The team that had hoped to follow a 12-9 overtime win over Baltimore with its first back-to-back wins since 2014 instead gave their fans a downer.
The Browns were outplayed in almost every way they could be outplayed.
Given the margin and nature of the loss, this game has to be taken as a serious dose of reality that no matter how far the Browns have come -- and they are better -- there is still a long way to go.