Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws a pass during the first half of a game at FirstEnergy Stadium.

© David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield, Carlos Hyde rally Browns past Jets, 21-17

Cleveland ends 19-game winless streak, finds their franchise QB

September 21, 2018
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Daryl Ruiter-Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – On the 635th day, the Cleveland Browns finally won.

At 11:34 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2018 rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield took the snap and then a knee at the 33-yard line sending FirstEnergy into a roar not heard since Christmas eve 2016 as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Led by Mayfield and running back Carlos Hyde, the Browns rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat the New York Jets 21-17 Thursday night in front of a national television audience.

“We plan on doing this more. This is just the start of it,” head coach Hue Jackson said.

It was an incredible performance from the top pick in the draft that finally gave a long-suffering fanbase the glimmer of hope they’ve sought for nearly 3 decades.

“You guys could feel the energy of the crowd and how badly they wanted it,” Mayfield said. “We have to play for each other, but at the same time, this city deserves it.”

Mayfield, who outplayed No. 3 overall pick and Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards and a 2-point conversion reception that tied the game at 14 after taking over late in the second quarter for starter Tyrod Taylor, who left after suffering a concussion.

Hyde and Mayfield helped end 21 months of misery and allow fans to break open those Victory fridges.

“Dilly Dilly! to the Cleveland fans,” Mayfield said referencing the Bud Light promotion. “It comes with it. It is not the only win that we are going to celebrate. It is a building block for us.”

Hyde’s 1-yard touchdown run with 2:04 remaining put the Browns on top for good as he celebrated his 28th birthday and the impending birth of his child by running for 98 yards on 23 carries and 2 scores in the victory.

Linebacker Joe Schobert made a diving interception of Darnold with 1:21 left, moments after Darnold just converted on fourth-and-10 for 12 yards but Terrance Mitchell picked the rookie off with 12 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

Darnold completed just 15 of 31 passes for 169 yards and the 2 interceptions in the loss.

“I just have to play better. It is as simple as that,” Darnold said. “It’s not acceptable the way I played. I know that, and I have to take it like a man.”

Myles Garrett sacked Darnold twice and he now has 11 in 14 career games. For the first time Thursday night, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick finally got to taste victory. 

“It’s amazing,” Garrett said. “We can finally have people quiet down about that and now get to business. That is how it should be. It’s been a while since we have had a win, and now that we got it, it’s on to the next one.”

Mayfield was crisp in his official NFL debut with quick accurate throws that came with velocity – so much so that one throw went right by Landry’s hands and hit him in the chest.

“He is special. He is really special,” Landry, who caught 8 of 15 targets for 103 yards, said. “Last week, I had a chance to sit down with him after the compliment form (Saints QB) Drew Brees. He did not get a big head or anything. He took advantage of the moment and the opportunity. We always have seen him make these plays. As far back as when the Baker Mayfield story had started, he has always made these types of plays. It is awesome to be a part of it.”

The Browns’ defense forced 3 more turnovers Thursday night, bringing their NFL-leading total to 11 through 3 games.

Taylor struggled in the first half as the offense went 3-and-out 3 times and punted on all 6 of his series. He completed 4 of 14 passes for 19 yards before departing as chants for Baker rained down from the stands.  

Taylor, who headed to the locker room with 1:42 remaining in the first half as Mayfield took over, underthrew speedster Antonio Callaway twice in the first half – the first should’ve resulted in a pass interference penalty but the Browns being the Browns, they don’t get the respect of having actual penalties called, and the second would’ve gone for at least 30 yards.

Former Browns running back Isaiah Crowell scored 2 touchdowns for New York – from 7 and 2 yards out. Crowell fired both footballs into the crowd but after the second score he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for pretending to wipe his backside with the ball.

Hyde’s 1-yard TD run following a spectacular catch by Landry at the 1 for a gain of 27 made it a new game in the third quarter. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley called for his own ‘Philly special’ for the 2-point conversion to tie it at 14 when Johnson took the direct snap, pitched it to Landry who threw it to a wide-open Mayfield in the end zone.

A 12-play, 65-yard drive for New York followed capped by Jason Myers’ 28-yard field goal at the 8:56 mark of the final quarter gave the Jets their last lead at 17-14.

Since their last Thursday night football win – a 24-3 triumph at Cincinnati on Nov. 6, 2014 that pushed the team to 6-3 and into first place in the AFC North – the Browns careened through football hell winning just 5 games, losing 51 and tying once.

Thursday night, the Browns hope they've finally put that all behind them as they now can look forward.  

“[The fans] should enjoy it,” Landry said. “They deserve more of it. We are going to do our best to make sure that is happening, using the momentum from games like to night, using the momentum from this stadium and the energy that we get from those guys -- the fans, and letting it go on to the rest of the season.”