CLEVELAND — Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has admitted to being jealous of Patrick Mahomes' freakish arm strength.

And it would only be natural for Mayfield to be a little envious of the wild success Mahomes, the quarterback of the Kansas Chiefs, is experiencing this season.

"I don't think I'm watching [Mahomes] directly comparing myself to him," Mayfield said Sunday after the Browns fell 37-21 to the Chiefs at FirstEnergy Stadium. "I've always respected him and his game.

"We do some things similar but, at the same time, we're different players. I don't know. He's making a lot of great plays, so I would love to be able do that, too."

On Oct. 22, 2016, Mayfield led the University of Oklahoma to a 66-59 win over Mahomes and Texas Tech in a record-setting shootout. Now Mayfield, the first overall draft pick this year, is still finding his way in the NFL while Mahomes, the 10th overall choice last year, is campaigning for Most Valuable Player.

Mahomes finished 23-of-32 passing for 375 yards and three touchdowns with an interception for a rating of 129 against the Browns, losers of their past four games who fell to 2-6-1. He rushed twice for 18 yards and took two sacks.

The supporting cast of Mahomes is infinitely better than the one Mayfield has. Yet Mayfield doesn't believe the Chiefs (8-1) are on a level other offenses can't reach.

"They're not doing anything unbelievable they invented," Mayfield said. "They're getting their guys in good positions. They're running screens and executing them. They're getting one-on-one matchups and taking advantage of mismatches that they like."

Mayfield went 29-of-42 passing for 297 yards and two touchdowns with an interception for a rating of 95 and took two sacks. He was encouraged by his performance and the direction of the offense under new play caller Freddie Kitchens, who replaced recently fired offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

"We were all on the same page more," Mayfield said. "We were able to use a little bit of cadence. We were able to push the ball down the field, and there are still shots to be had. I'll continue to learn these guys and put it in the right spot for them."

Mayfield had his outing interrupted late in the third quarter. He missed three plays after safety Ron Parker hit him in the helmet as defensive tackle Chris Jones sacked him. No penalty was called.

Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor entered the game while Mayfield was checked for a concussion in the medical tent on the sideline. The medical spotter had called for Mayfield to be examined.

"It's just interesting how it works," Mayfield said. "I had to come out of the game and got into the exam. It takes a couple of plays."

He was cleared and returned to the action for the first play of the fourth quarter, whereupon he threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to running back Duke Johnson. They also connected late in the second quarter for a 19-yard touchdown pass.

Getting aggressive

In Gregg Williams' first game as interim coach after being promoted from defensive coordinator, Williams said he wanted to play aggressively. The Browns went for it on fourth down three times and converted twice. They also tried two-point conversions after all three of their touchdowns and failed each time.

Williams said his approach on fourth down and the decision to forgo extra points was partially because of the Chiefs, who came in averaging a league-high 36.2 points per game.

As they improved to 6 of 14 on fourth down, Browns players liked the faith Williams showed in them.

“He has trust in us. He knows that we have a chance to make something happen,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “It’s cool that he has faith in us.”

Receiver Jarvis Landry said, “It's a real positive thing to have those opportunities. We have to find a way to convert all of them, if we're going to put ourselves in those situations.”

Mayfield loved the fourth-down gambles, “especially when we're getting it.”

"That definitely helps," he said. “I don't think I'd answer it the same way if we didn't get those."

Bitonio said Williams told the players of his plan.

“We didn’t really practice too much, but [Williams] mentioned, ‘Hey, we’re going to take our chances when we have a chance,’” Bitonio said. “Today before the game he told the captains, ‘If we’re in this situation, we’re probably going to go for it.’ So Baker knew. Kitchens knew. The guys that were calling the plays knew third-and-9, we don’t have to get all of it on this play. He wanted to put it out there and give it everything we had.”

— Marla Ridenour

Defense banged up

The Browns lost starting cornerback Denzel Ward to a hip injury and cornerback E.J. Gaines to a concussion in the first quarter. That left the secondary without three key players — free safety Damarious Randall was on the inactive list with a groin injury — and forced cornerback Denzel Rice into action. Gaines, who missed the previous two games with a concussion, took a knee to the head.

Then linebacker Christian Kirksey left the game with a hamstring injury with 4:05 remaining in the second quarter and didn't return.

“Next man up,” Williams said. “But I did have to change conceptually to what our guys that went in there could do and could understand. [Chiefs coach] Andy [Reid] knew that, too.”

Williams said the Browns still have to play better and tackle better, despite the depth being tested.

“It’s a tough one. Especially with the talent of the guys that went down, it is very hard to replace those,” Browns cornerback TJ Carrie said. “We have already had a couple of corners go down as well, so your depth can only go so far. Now it's going to be time for all of us to step our game up, myself included.”

Landry was dismayed by what happened to the defense.

“It sucks. Guys stepped in and tried to do their best and tried to make plays for this team, but that's the mentality. Everybody has to be ready. You never know the situation,” said Landry, who caught six passes for 50 yards on seven targets and whose 55 receptions are the most all time by a Browns player through the first nine weeks of a season.

— Marla Ridenour

Hometown stars

Northeast Ohioans had a field day for the Chiefs. Running back Kareem Hunt, who ran for 44 touchdowns as a senior at Willoughby South, scored three times, rushing for 91 yards and two TDs on 17 carries and adding a 50-yard scoring reception. Tight end Travis Kelce, a star quarterback at Cleveland Heights, caught seven passes for 99 yards and two scores.

"I knew they wanted to play well here in Cleveland," Mahomes said. "Being in front of their families ... it was cool for them to have five touchdowns between them."

Hunt said he and Kelce were nervous all week.

"Travis is one of my best friends on the team," he said. "He had a big game. I had a big game. I think only Cleveland people scored today, so that's a good thing."

Hunt gave his first touchdown ball to a young fan wearing a Chiefs jersey in the front row of the end zone.

"It's my hometown," he said. "I looked for a kid who would really appreciate it."

Reid said, "It was good to see these guys from Cleveland have a chance to come here and perform well. No. 32 [running back Spencer Ware] also had a heck of a game."

A product of Cincinnati Princeton High School, Ware totaled 81 yards rushing and receiving.

“Close enough," Reid said.

Browns General Manager John Dorsey drafted the University of Toledo’s Hunt No. 86 overall in the 2017 draft. Now Hunt is gaining mention as an MVP candidate with 683 rushing yards, 312 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

"He's better in his second year," Reid said of Hunt, who went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. "He has a better feel for everything, including protections, which is the toughest thing for these guys."

— Steve Doerschuk and Marla Ridenour

Shout out

Undrafted rookie offensive lineman Desmond Harrison was inactive with an undisclosed illness, so veteran Greg Robinson started at left tackle for the Browns. The second overall pick in the 2014 draft, Robinson had started 48 of the 52 games in his career before appearing in the first eight games this season without a start.

Without being asked about Robinson, Mayfield twice said he played well.

"There is positive right there," Mayfield said.

What was left unsaid is Harrison had been struggling mightily in pass protection.

Other inactives

Randall, like Harrison, was inactive for the first time this season. Randall didn't practice all last week because of a groin injury. On Friday, he said he planned to face the Chiefs and tested the injury at the stadium on Sunday morning while a member of the athletic training staff monitored him. The team then shut him down.

Williams refuted ESPN's report that Randall was healthy scratch.

"Not a healthy scratch, no," Williams said. "It was my call because I wanted to get him healthy. He has been battling, and I just wanted to get him fully ready to roll."

Did Randall attempt to convince Williams to let him play?

"That's always between me and him" Williams said. "I like the player. I do."

Briean Boddy-Calhoun started in Randall's place at free safety.

Receivers Antonio Callaway (ankle) and Rashard Higgins (knee), center JC Tretter (ankle) and cornerback Tavierre Thomas (abdomen) were active despite entering the weekend listed as questionable to play. Callaway had three catches for 51 yards and Higgins added three catches for 19 yards.

Extra points

• Rice got his first career interception at the end of the first half, increasing the Browns' total to 23 takeaways this season, their most through nine weeks since they had 24 in 1989.

• Rookie running back Nick Chubb led the Browns with 85 rushing yards and one touchdown on 22 carries (3.9 average).

• Defensive end Myles Garrett recorded a sack in the fourth quarter. His nine sacks this season are the most by any Browns player through the first nine weeks of a season. Rookie linebacker Genard Avery had the Browns' other sack. He has 2.5 this season.

• Three Chiefs starters were inactive: safety Eric Berry (heel), linebacker Justin Houston (hamstring) and center Mitch Morse (concussion).

• With Morse out, Austin Reiter started at center. Four of the five offensive linemen who started for the Chiefs were former Browns players: Reiter, right guard Andrew Wylie, left guard Cam Erving and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Wylie, whom the Chiefs claimed off waivers in September, is the only one who didn't appear in a game with the Browns. He spent about two months on their practice squad last season.

• The Browns worked out kickers on Saturday, including Sam Ficken, Marshall Koehn, Younghoe Koo, Jon Brown and Tyler Rausa, according to ESPN. The Browns' Greg Joseph kept his footing, though, by making his lone kick, a career-long 51-yard field goal with 2:45 left in the second quarter.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. 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.