Goal by the Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield didn’t get his revenge against the Cleveland Browns, thanks in part to a “horrid” roughing the passer flag on Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns, but he came close.
After struggling for nearly three quarters, Mayfield guided the Panthers to 17 fourth-quarter points and a lead until the Browns interrupted his revenge party with a 58-yard field goal by rookie kicker Cade York with eight seconds left.
A roughing the passer penalty on the first play gave Cleveland a first down at its own 40, which aided the game-winning drive. According to head referee Brad Rogers, the call was made due to “forcible impact to the head and neck area.”
McCaffrey had a different opinion.
“It was a terrible call,” he added.
Mayfield is now 0-4 in NFL debuts, including 0-3 with the Browns.
“Everyone treated this game like it was the Super Bowl,” Mayfield said. “But, regardless of what everyone thinks, there are 16 more games.” The Super Bowl does not take place until February.”
Mayfield bore a large portion of the blame for this defeat due to his and the offense’s poor start. In the first half, he was 10-for-19 for 101 yards, with four balls tipped at the line of scrimmage, an interception, and two sacks. He also missed a shotgun snap.
He concluded with five tipped passes at the line, continuing a trend that began in Cleveland, when he knocked down 44 passes at the line from 2018 to 2021, the most in the NFL.
“I need to improve on finding angles and windows to throw it, and we need to get their hands down,” Mayfield said. “However, this team fought back. That is why I am so disappointed.”
The single huge play for Mayfield in the first half was a 50-yard pass to tight end Ian Thomas, who was wide open down the middle of the field.
After being forced to toss the ball away under pressure to conclude the fifth of his seven possessions, he was booed for the first time.
There were additional boos as the Panthers headed to the locker room at halftime, down 17-7. It was so horrible that Quincy Avery, suspended Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s personal passing coach, tweeted, “That’s the Baker we know and love.”
Mayfield finally gave the Panthers some of the intensity they were hoping for late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter when he capped a touchdown drive with a 7-yard scamper up the middle.
After trimming the score to 20-14, he displayed some of the anger he has displayed throughout his career by slamming the ball into the cushioned stadium wall.
Mayfield is described as “the ultimate fighter” by offensive guard Brady Christensen.
Following a field goal by Cleveland, Mayfield delivered a 75-yard touchdown throw to Robbie Anderson, cutting the margin to 23-21 with 6:02 remaining.
He then led Carolina to a go-ahead field goal with little over a minute remaining, setting up York’s game-winning field goal, which left York ecstatic and Mayfield dejected.
“I typically remark that I don’t celebrate kicks,” York explained. “That one was a touch unusual.”
Mayfield completed 16-of-27 passes for 235 yards.
“I think Baker took all the bullets and made the plays that gave us a chance to win,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said.
The Browns gave up on Mayfield after he went 6-8 in 2021 while dealing with a non-throwing shoulder injury. They acquired Watson during the summer, forcing Mayfield to request a trade from the franchise that selected him first overall in the 2018 draught.
He competed in what Carolina called a “open” fight for the starting job with 2021 starter Sam Darnold, though league insiders indicated it was Mayfield’s job to lose all along. On August 22, he was officially selected the starter.
Before Sunday, he never made a big fuss about facing his previous team, saying it’s a “nice storyline,” but he was focused on performing his job.
After being named the Panthers’ starting, Mayfield said of the Browns, “Obviously, there’s a lot of attachment there.” “I’m not going to sit here and act like a robot and say it doesn’t matter. It certainly will.”
But it wasn’t an emotional day for Mayfield in the way that previous so-called revenge games in the NFL and college have been.
“It’s always nice to see familiar faces,” remarked Mayfield. “Emotional? I wouldn’t put too much stock in it. We didn’t complete because we didn’t get off to a quick start.”
Before kickoff, Mayfield was all smiles and embraces as he greeted many of his former teammates, coaches, and executives.
Following the game, there were more hugs and fewer smiles.
“A lot of excitement,” Mayfield added. “This is going down the toilet.” We’ll be better as a result of it.”