CLEVELAND — Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles threw two interceptions and Philadelphia’s starting offense struggled again while waiting for quarterback Carson Wentz to return as the Eagles were beaten 5-0 on Thursday night by the Cleveland Browns.
Foles was hoping to bounce back from a rough outing against New England last week, when he also injured his right shoulder. His overall statistics were better (13 of 17 for 127 yards) against the Browns (2-1), but he made two poor decisions while throwing the first-half picks, was stripped for a fumble and sacked for a safety.
Foles emerged as an unlikely star last year when he replaced an injured Wentz and led the Eagles (0-3) to their first Super Bowl title. However, he’s only starting now as Wentz recovers from knee surgery. Wentz recently began working in 11-on-11 drills, but he’s not been cleared for contact and there’s no clear timetable when he’ll play.
The Eagles need him. They committed four turnovers, allowed seven sacks and missed a field goal.
Cleveland had a familiar quarterback scare.
Starter Tyrod Taylor injured his left hand in the first quarter, and the sight of him heading to the sideline sent a shiver through fans in FirstEnergy Stadium. Rookie Baker Mayfield replaced him for two series before Taylor returned. Cleveland’s starter finished 11 of 16 for 65 yards.
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick, played the entire second half and went 8 of 12 for 76 yards and an interception.
With Foles behind center, the Eagles’ first-team offense, which was missing wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor and running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles, hasn’t scored a point in three exhibitions.
Foles floated a long pass that safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun easily intercepted . Then, with a chance to finally score, Foles forced a throw into a crowd near the goal line and was picked by linebacker Jamie Collins.
The Browns were driving for a score when Taylor got hurt.
On fourth-and-goal and from Philadelphia’s 1, Taylor rolled left and fired an incompletion into the end zone before falling out of bounds on his left side without contact. He immediately grabbed his left hand and jogged to the sideline to be examined.
Taylor spent about 15 minutes in the locker room before coming back to the sideline. He had a brief conversation with coach Hue Jackson, who sent the 29-year-old back onto the field after Mayfield filled in.
The Browns intend for Taylor to start this season while Mayfield develops, with the only thing that might alter the plan being an injury — something Cleveland knows all too well while cycling through 28 starting QBs since 1999.
Eagles starting safety Malcolm Jenkins remained in the tunnel during the national anthem, and defensive end Michael Bennett also was not on the field. Jenkins and Bennett have been among of the league’s most outspoken players during the ongoing controversy over players expressing their political views during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Jenkins previously stood on the sideline with a raised fist to protest social injustice.
Wentz worked out on the field hours before kickoff with a group of Eagles receivers. He looked good on his drops while rifling slant routes and quick-hitters.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett was credited with sacking Foles in the end zone for the game’s first two points.
Foles lost his footing while backing up, fell to one knee and was touched by Garrett. Foles completed a pass on the play, but the Browns challenged it and were awarded a safety.
Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez helped his chances to keep his job with a 54-yard field goal. Gonzalez is competing with Ross Martin.
Eagles: Starting C Jason Kelce limped off after making a block during the opening series. He did agility and stretching drills under the guidance of the training staff and returned for Philadelphia’s next possession.
Browns: First-round pick Denzel Ward suffered a back injury in the first quarter and did not return. Ward appeared to get twisted while tackling 250-pound tight end Zach Ertz. Ward, the No. 4 overall pick, was on the field for several minutes before walking off on his own power. … Starting S Damarious Randall did not dress because of a knee injury. He was not on the team’s original “not expected to play” list and may have gotten hurt during warmups. … Rookie WR Antonio Callaway did not dress after missing three practices with a groin injury.
Eagles: Host the New York Jets on Aug. 30.
Browns: Visit the Detroit Lions on Aug. 30.