Odell Beckham Jr.’s second season with Cleveland ended painfully and prematurely.
The star wide receiver suffered a torn left knee ligament during Sunday’s 37-34 win at Cincinnati, a devastating personal blow or Beckham and a setback to the Browns, who are off to their best start since 1994 and eyeing a playoff spot.
Beckham got hurt when his left leg buckled while he was trying to make a tackle after Baker Mayfield’s first pass was intercepted by Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips.
An MRI taken Monday in Cleveland confirmed the diagnosis of a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The team said Beckham will be placed on injured reserve, but there is no immediate word on when he’ll undergo surgery.
Typically, it takes nine months to one year to recover from a torn ACL.
On what became his final play of 2020, Beckham was chasing Phillips down the sideline when his leg got twisted awkwardly. He immediately grabbed it, was taken directly to the Browns locker room and didn’t return.
The Browns (5-2) played well without Beckham, who for all his talent hasn’t been able to make a strong connection with Mayfield since arriving in a blockbuster trade from the New York Giants before last season. Beckham played most of 2019 with a core muscle injury that required off-season surgery.
Long playoff drought
After Beckham went out Sunday, Mayfield completed 21 consecutive passes and threw five TD passes — matching a franchise record — as the Browns outlasted the Bengals.
Mayfield was also without injured running back Nick Chubb, tight end Austin Hooper and receiver Jarvis Landry played with a broken rib. But the third-year QB had one of his best games by making plays with rookie tight end Harrison Bryant (two TDs), Rashard Higgins (six catches) and rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones, who entered the game without a catch and grabbed Mayfield’s winning TD pass with 11 seconds left.
Cleveland, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002, will have to go the rest of the way without Beckham, who will turn 28 on Nov. 5. He had 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns this season. He also scored on a 50-yard touchdown run.
While Beckham had continued to make some headlines with some off-the-field antics, he had been emerging as a leader on the Browns. He was healthier than he had been in several years, and showing some of the breakaway speed that made him so dangerous with the Giants.
The torn ACL is the latest injury for Beckham, who was the AP’s offensive rookie of the year in 2014 after being drafted with the No. 12 overall pick by New York. He made the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons, but was limited to four games in 2017 with a broken ankle and 12 games in 2018 with a bruised quadriceps.