Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns proved a lot of haters wrong this past season. They went 11-5, won a playoff game, and nearly beat the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round. Their season gave Browns fans life, but also hope for the team’s future. Well, now, Mayfield has a strong message about the future of the Cleveland Browns, and recently put the NFL on notice.
Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns had a bounce-back season
The Cleveland Browns hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2002, as they had been perennial losers for years.
Fans then had high hopes for the Browns in 2019. Baker Mayfield and star running back Nick Chubb were both in their second seasons, and the team added star players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt. However, Cleveland struggled all year with head coach Freddie Kitchens. They went 6-10, and Mayfield was very turnover prone, throwing for 21 interceptions compared to 22 touchdowns.
However, head coach Kevin Stefanski helped turn things around in 2020. Cleveland ultimately went 11-5 this season, and Mayfield played much better, throwing for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Cleveland’s running game, though, led them to a lot of their success this season. Chubb ultimately ran for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Hunt ran for 841 yards and six touchdowns. Their backs ended up helping lead Cleveland to the playoffs, where they faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round.
The Browns then ended up dominating the Steelers in their wild-card matchup, winning 48-37 over their AFC North divisional rival. The win then set up their date in the divisional round with the Kansas City Chiefs.
They almost defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round
Not too many people gave the Browns a chance in the divisional round against the Chiefs. However, Cleveland took the Super Bowl champions to the wire.
The Chiefs had a 6-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and then led 16-3 in the second. Cleveland, however, had a chance to make it 16-10 when it appeared that Rashard Higgins scored on a 25-yard pass from Mayfield. He, however, fumbled it in the end zone, which resulted in the Chiefs getting the ball. Kansas City then went into halftime with a 19-3 lead.
The Browns then scored early in the third quarter, making it 19-10. What really changed the dynamic of the game after that, though, was when Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes went down, left the game, and didn’t return. Chad Henne then had to step in and relieve him.
The Browns made it 22-17 with 11:07 left in the game after a KC field goal, and it appeared that Cleveland had a chance to get the upset. After Henne threw an interception, though, the Chiefs’ defense forced the Browns to punt. Kansas City then essentially ran the clock out after that, as they clinched the game on a completed pass from Henne to Tyreek Hill on fourth down. They ultimately won 22-17.
Despite the loss, Cleveland proved a lot of people wrong, like they did all season. They put the entire NFL on notice by almost defeating the reigning Super Bowl champions, after dominating the Steelers in their first playoff game. Cleveland also proved that the Browns are now no longer the same losing franchise they had been for years. They are winners now.
After the game, Mayfield had a strong message for the league about his team, too.
Baker Mayfield sends a strong message to the entire NFL
Mayfield — who threw for 204 yards, one touchdown, and one interception on 23-of-37 passing against the Chiefs — spoke to the media after the game, and he had a strong message about the Browns.
“It’s just unfortunate for us to come up short,” Mayfield said, via ESPN’s Jake Trotter. “It sucks because we believed in it, and that’s why we’re here, but I’m trying to find the positive out of it. We’re setting a new standard here, and that’s what everybody’s saying in the locker room, continue to tell guys that ‘We’re going to be back.’ It sucks when you come up short, but you get that taste of it, and you realize you learn lessons, but for now, it’s definitely going to sting.”
That’s a strong message. The Browns are “setting a new standard,” and they’re “going to be back.” Cleveland is no longer the butt of every joke. They are one of the best teams in the NFL, and other teams in the league better realize that moving forward.
Everyone better start getting used to seeing the Browns in the playoffs. The Dawg Pound is here to stay.