Uncharacteristically, the Cleveland Browns’ run game was quieter than normal in Sunday night’s 20-6 victory over the New York Giants.
It was time for Baker Mayfield to carry the load.
“Baker was outstanding tonight,” coach Kevin Stefanski said, via the team’s official transcript. “He was dialed in. It is really what I expect from him, and it is what he expects from himself. It is how he practices. I really thought he was sharp.”
Mayfield completed 84.4 percent of 32 passes (a career-high completion percentage, minimum 25 attempts) for 297 yards, two TDs and a 126.2 passer rating.
The third-year pro impressed getting through his progressions quickly and fired several balls into tight windows. After early season struggles, Mayfield’s play has improved as the Browns streak toward the postseason.
“He plays at a high level and always has,” receiver Jarvis Landry said. “I keep saying that for us to get where we want to go and for us to win these games, it all starts there. He is a big part of everything that we are trying to do. He is playing lights out.”
Sunday marked the fourth straight game that Mayfield threw for two or more touchdowns. He’s on pace to become the only player in Browns history with 25-plus passing TDs and a 95-plus passer rating in a season.
Mayfield’s performance Sunday night came against a hollowed-out Giants secondary, so we don’t need to write sea-poems about the QB just yet. The point, however, stands that Mayfield continues to make the necessary plays to push his team toward January football. When the ground game isn’t blasting off big runs, Mayfield has shown he can step in and move the chains.
“It goes back to talking to you guys earlier in the season about trusting these guys around me, trusting the guys up front, going through my progressions and just delivering the ball and let them make the plays,” Mayfield said. “Our guys are making a ton of plays. Our protection continues to be great, and these guys continue to make plays for us. That is why the confidence is so high and I don’t have to do anything else. It is these guys doing their job.”
Mayfield has gotten fantastic protection, and the threat of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the ground provides fortuitous throwing situations. The Browns offense might not be built around Mayfield spraying the ball all over the field, but the signal-caller has proven that in Stefanski’s offense he can be productive, avoid ghastly mistakes and churn out wins.
Mayfield is two wins shy of tying Bernie Kosar’s franchise record (24) for most QB wins in a player’s first three seasons in the Super Bowl era.
More importantly, Sunday night’s victory puts the Browns at 10 wins on the season and in a prime spot to get Cleveland into the postseason for the first time since 2002.
Source: Read Full Article