OAKLAND — Baker Mayfield's NFL regular-season starting debut served as a painful reminder to the Browns that he won't always play lights out.
No one does. Especially not rookies.
Mayfield entered the Black Hole and showed resilience but left Oakland Alameda-County Coliseum haunted by his four turnovers in Sunday's 45-42 overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Mayfield and Co. went three-and-out during their lone possession in OT, with his long third-down pass intended for running back Duke Johnson broken up by cornerback Rashaan Melvin. After a punt, the Raiders got the ball back at their 19-yard line with 5:27 left and marched to set up the game-winning, 29-yard field goal rookie Matt McCrane made with 1:46 left.
Mayfield went 21-of-41 passing (51.2 percent) for 295 yards and two touchdowns with a rating of 70.7. He lost two fumbles. Two of his passes were intercepted.
"He’s going to learn," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "Football intelligence. As he goes through it, he’ll understand how important those things are. You’ve got to be team protecting, but we don’t want to rein him in because I like the things he’s doing."
Still, the miscues added up to cost the Browns precious opportunities to earn their first winning streak since 2014. Mayfield and the Browns were kicking themselves as they left the Bay area because they thought they should have won.
"We turned the ball over too many times and gave them a chance and, in this league, when you turn the ball over like we did today, like I did, you’re not going to win those games," said Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft who became the 30th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999. "So we saw the end result of that."
The Browns ended their 19-game winless streak Sept. 20 when Mayfield came off the bench after quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered a concussion late in the first half and helped the Browns rally from a 14-0 deficit in a magical 21-17 victory over the New York Jets on "Thursday Night Football."
But expecting Mayfield to continue to dominate like he did in his relief appearance just wasn't realistic, and by falling to the Raiders (1-3), the Browns (1-2-1) lost their 23rd consecutive road game and their 36th game in a row on a Sunday.
The Raiders scored three touchdowns off three of Mayfield's turnovers.
Rookie wide receiver Antonio Callaway slipped while running his route, Mayfield's pass deflected off Callaway's hands and it was intercepted by rookie cornerback Gareon Conley. A Massillon native, Conley returned the interception 36 yards for a touchdown as the Raiders went ahead 7-0 with 10:01 left in the first quarter.
Mayfield immediately encouraged Callaway on the sideline. It was one of about eight passes Mayfield's targets dropped.
"That’s not the end of the world," Mayfield said of the pick-six. "We had many chances in that game to win, so it wasn’t going to be just one play that lost it for us."
Mayfield threw touchdown passes of 49 yards to tight end Darren Fells and 2 yards to wide receiver Jarvis Landry to guide the Browns to a 28-14 advantage midway through the third quarter.
But they began to blow the lead when rookie Maurice Hurst strip-sacked Mayfield, and fellow defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins recovered the fumble at Cleveland's 7. Three plays later, Derek Carr connected with tight end Jared Cook for a 7-yard touchdown, allowing the Raiders to trim the Browns' lead to 28-21 with 5:34 left in the third quarter.
With 13:30 left in the fourth quarter, Mayfield wasn't ready for center JC Tretter's snap, resulting in a fumble on the exchange that the Raiders recovered at Cleveland's 20 with 13:26 left. The Raiders capitalized with Carr's 19-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jordy Nelson, capturing a 31-28 lead with 12:46 left in the fourth quarter.
"That’s on me to get everybody on the same page," Mayfield said.
Both teams added two more scores in regulation, and Mayfield tried to hit Callaway with a game-winning touchdown pass but got too greedy. His deep throw on first-and-10 at the Raiders 49 was intercepted by safety Reggie Nelson at the 14 to end regulation.
"I think he thought where Antonio was going he thought he could get the ball there," Jackson said. "Obviously, that was a bad throw. He should not have thrown that one."
Ultimately, Carr outdueled Mayfield. A second-round pick in 2014, Carr went 35-of-58 passing (60.3 percent) for 437 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions for a rating of 92.4.
"I feel bad for our defense," Mayfield said. "We gave the Raiders a chance to be on offense too many times. When you give an offense like that with some of the players they have that many chances, it’s not going to turn out well for you."
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.