Baker Mayfield threw for 321 yards, but he was picked off by Chiefs cornerback Mike Hughes with 1:09 left to end any hope of a comeback. Nick Chubb ran for 83 yards and two scores while Kareem Hunt and Jarvis Landry also had TD runs.
The game was a rematch of a physical, defensive-minded playoff game that Kansas City clinched when backup quarterback Chad Henne threw a fourth-down pass to Tyreek Hill for a first down with just over a minute to go.
There wasn’t a whole lot of defense Sunday.
The Browns twice converted fourth downs in the Chiefs’ red zone to keep first-half scoring drives alive. Chubb ended the first with his first TD run, and Jarvis Landry scored on fourth down on the second, before Chubb tacked on an 18-yard run through a gaping hole in the rebuilt Chiefs defensive line to make it 22-10 at halftime.
The Chiefs finally found some offensive balance in the second half, riding Clyde Edwards-Helaire down the field before Mahomes hit Kelce for a touchdown. That capped a drive that took up half the third quarter and, most importantly for the lackluster Kansas City defense, kept Mayfield and the rest of the Browns offense off the field.
The Chiefs nearly ground out the rest of the quarter by turning Chubb’s fumble into Harrison Butker’s second field goal.
When the Browns weren’t beating themselves, the Chiefs weren’t doing a whole lot to stop them. Kevin Stefanski’s bunch immediately responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive — their fourth scoring drive at least that long — that former Chiefs running back Hunt finished off to make it 29-20 with 10:24 to go.
But the Browns weren’t done beating themselves, either.
First, they blew coverage on Hill near midfield, and he merely had to cradle a pop-up pass from Mahomes and take off for a 75-yard touchdown reception. Then, after the Chiefs finally forced a three-and-out, Browns punter Jamie Gillan inexplicably dropped the snap and the AFC champs took possession at the Cleveland 15.
Mahomes hit Kelce three plays later to give Kansas City a 33-29 lead, its first of the game. And after the teams traded late punts, Mayfield made one last mistake with his interception with just over a minute to go.
Browns SS Ronnie Harrison Jr. was tossed with 4:59 left in the first quarter after shoving Chiefs assistant Greg Lewis in a sideline scrum. It happened after Harrison helped tackle Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Referee Bill Vinovich initially flagged the Chiefs bench for unsportsmanlike conduct before meeting with his crew and ejecting Harrison instead.
The Browns were missing WR Odell Beckham Jr. (knee), who tried to warm up but was declared inactive about 90 minutes before kickoff, and backup FS Grant Delpit. Kansas City was without FS Tyrann Mathieu, who was taken off the COVID-19 list on Saturday, and DE Frank Clark, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury.