Baker Mayfield leads Browns to 21-17 win over Jets with spectacular debut

Tyrod Taylor's concussion opens door for Mayfield to take over

Daryl Ruiter
September 20, 2018 - 10:11 pm
Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns New York Jets

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – As chants of “we want Baker” rained down from the sellout crowd with every Tyrod Taylor incompletion and Browns punt the fans got their wish Thursday night.

A Browns victory and Baker Mayfield leading the way.

Mayfield electrified the sellout crowd and his team with a performance not seen in these parts in decades as he led the Browns back from a 14-0 hole to a 21-17 victory – the first for the franchise since Dec. 24, 2016, ending a 19-game regular season winless streak.

“That is why we drafted him. We drafted him for that reason,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “He has that magnetism. He has it.”

Mayfield was called upon with 1:42 left in the second quarter after Taylor was taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion.

“You never want to go in after one of your captains gets hurt,” Mayfield said.

Jets inside linebacker Avery Williamson sacked Taylor with 2:55 left in the first half on third-and-12 at the Jets 35 for a loss of 6. Taylor appeared to limp off the field before walking to the medical tent. A few minutes later, he went to the locker room.

It was the third time Taylor went down, and it might be the last for a while.

In 6 offensive series, Taylor completed just 4 of 14 passes for 9 yards with every series resulting in a punt, including 3 3-and-outs.

“Let’s not make this about what Tyrod did or did not do,” Jackson said. “I just think Baker played well. I think the offense responded to Baker being there.”

Jackson didn’t want to talk about potentially replacing Taylor had he remained healthy, but it is clear without Mayfield taking over, the Browns’ winless streak probably rolls on with the way the first half had been going.

“He got hurt. Let’s not talk about if I would have or would not have,” Jackson said. “Baker played great, and he won the game. That is what is important.”

Now there’s no going back. No need to either. No decision to be made next week at Oakland.

“Let’s not get into those debates tonight,” Jackson said. “Obviously, what he did tonight was outstanding for the football team and his teammates and just the way he competed. I have to watch the tape, and we will go from there.”

Jackson gave Mayfield a game ball in the locker room along with Landry, owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. 

“What we need to realize as a franchise now is that everybody has their job. It’s not all on one person,” Mayfield said. “It’s not all on me right now. It’s everybody. You have your 1/11th on offense, and you have special teams and defense as well. We have to work each day to have success and that’s just the way it goes.”

Mayfield promptly rifled a 14-yard completion to receiver Jarvis Landry and a 17-yard throw to tight end David Njoku before the drive stalled but still resulted in a 45-yard field goal from new kicker Greg Joseph to cut New York’s lead to 14-3 late in the second quarter.

“We had a whole half to play and some change in the second quarter,” Mayfield said. “Just wanted to chip away. All points are good points at that point. You have to battle back and have to chip away at that point. There was a sense of urgency absolutely of Being the aggressive team and putting them on their heels. At the same time, we were not trying to push too hard.”

Chip away he did.

The 2017 Heisman trophy winner completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards in the win, which oddly enough gets credited to Taylor.

Even his incompletions were delivered on the money.

Tight end Orson Charles should’ve reeled in a beautiful ball on the sideline after Mayfield escaped the pocket to his right that would’ve extended the first possession of the second half. Jarvis Landry had a fastball fly through his hands and hit his chest. Antonio Callaway should’ve caught a deep ball up the far sideline that was beautifully placed.

“Never doubted him,” Landry said. “I don’t think there is a coach or a player in this building who has doubted him or felt like we were in a disadvantage when he came onto the field. That is something that you have to love about him. That is why he was the first pick. That is why he was the Heisman Trophy winner. You saw it tonight first hand.”

Mayfield orchestrated 4 scoring drives in the comeback, including an impressive 15-play, 75-yard march that chewed up just under 7 minutes off the clock capped by Carlos Hyde's game-winning 1-yard touchdown run with 2:04 remaining. 

“Are you guys surprised? I am laughing because at one time people said, ‘Whoa, we should not have drafted him.’ Now, everybody says, ‘Dang, he can really throw.’ You laugh at that. I like that,” Jackson said. “In general, when we took him, he was too small, he could not throw this and could not throw that. Now, ‘Dang, look at the throws that he makes.’ I am not surprised by any throws that this young man makes. I told you guys, he does things in practice that I just go, ‘Oh, my gosh.’

“Timing. Timing is everything. The right time. The right situation. You can’t deny the talent. You can’t deny what he is able to do. He showed that tonight.”

And that’s why Jackson will need to stick with him going forward because Baker earned his stripes – and the starting job – Thursday night.