Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) scrambles in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

© Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield has "no words" for explanation why helmet hit flag was picked up

Mayfield, Browns remain unhappy officials blew another call this season

October 25, 2018
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Daryl Ruiter-Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Baker Mayfield is still a loss for words as to why officials picked up a flag on an obvious helmet-to-helmet hit from Tampa Bay safety Jordan Whitehead in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 26-23 overtime loss to the Buccaneers.

So are his teammates.

“When he said the head-to-head thing, it kind of confused me because I am pretty sure runners now can’t get hit in the head anyway,” left guard Joel Bitonio said Wednesday.

Whitehead, who is expected to be fined the Associated Press reported Wednesday, hit the side of Mayfield’s helmet with the crown of his helmet during a 35-yard run with just over 8 minutes remaining in regulation.

“I just think that we have to officiate it the right way,” head coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday. “We have to see it for what it is and make the call. I think that the league and the officials want to get it right so to me anything that is questionable in that way, I just think that you take a real good look at it. Let’s not just move on from it. Even if you have to review it, let’s make sure that those things are correct as those calls are being made when it is something that is that vicious, that kind of hit, especially on a quarterback.”

Mayfield did not take solace in the news Whitehead could be fined.

"After the fact, it doesn't really matter," Mayfield said Wednesday. "That's just one of those things that in the moment you've got to be able to call that."

Officials initially threw flags on the play, but after a meeting decided to pick up the flags and head official Shawn Hochuli offered this explanation: “The quarterback was still a runner and therefore is allowed to be hit in the head. He had not yet begun his slide. There is no foul,” Hochuli said.

 “No words honestly. No words,” Mayfield said.

"I didn't hear it at the time because I was so fuming mad, but to hear the ref say he's allowed to be hit in the head, I thought that's why they put in the rule."   

The Browns have had multiple complaints this season regarding officiating, but Mayfield refused to blame them for the team’s 2-4-1 record.

“It's easy to point and blame certain calls during a game, but if we're scoring points, we can take the refs out of the game,” Mayfield said. “We can eliminate all those things to where we're not counting on having a good call. We can do the things right to where none of that really matters.”

The NFL has emphasized player safety over the past few years and worked to eliminate the type helmet to helmet hit Mayfield suffered Sunday, which the officials did not properly enforce prompting Jackson to send even more tape into the league office for review.

“I like the dialogue that we have had. I like the conversations that we have had. I like how we have been able to talk about certain things back and forth,” Jackson said. “I think that the most important thing for the league, for teams for coaches and for everybody, we just want to get it right.

“Games are won and lost on these things. Jobs will be on the line because of these things. I think that is important. We just want it to be right.”

Mayfield was asked, what it will take for a penalty like that to be properly enforced?

“Probably not playing quarterback for the Browns,” Mayfield said.