After the loss of the New York Jets on Sunday, which prevented the Cleveland Browns from clinching a playoff spot, fullback Baker Mayfield said he “let the team down” after boxing three times.
“Clearly and simply, I have to hold on to the damn ball,” said Mayfield, who stumbled on Cleveland’s last two driving points and enabled the Jets to secure the 23-16 victory at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to hold. “We had exactly what we needed to win this game. And I did not do well enough. That’s it.”
Due to contact detection from a player who tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, the Browns had to play without their top four wide receivers. Instead, Cleveland had to appeal to Ja’Marcus Bradley and Derrick Willies’ training squad, as well as Marvin Hall, who was acquitted earlier this month.
Without their regular receivers, including Jarvis Landry, and starting linemen Jedrick Wills Jr. (illness) and Wyatt Teller (single), the Browns struggled offensively throughout the day.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, runners Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt averaged just 0.3 yards before contact, and combined to chase just 39 yards. They could not determine the run or facilitate play action, but rather had to broadcast it with Mayfield, who finished with 53 passing attempts. Thirty-six of those passes have tied for a fixed point or runners in the last 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Nevertheless, Mayfield refused to use these key absences, especially at receiver, as an excuse, and he took the blame for the loss.
“Put it on me,” Mayfield said, “because I did not do my job, that I did not play at a high level as I should, because I did not get these guys going and finish this game. not.”
Mayfield took only one question in his video call to the game, but he also spoke for nearly two minutes. Before stepping away, he acknowledged that the Browns could still make it through to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and finally end the NFL’s longest drought of the season by defeating Pittsburgh next weekend.
“This one is going to sting a day or two, but we have the Steelers to win and come in,” he said. “I’m going to roll with these beats. Back against the wall and we have to win to get in. You know what, this group fought today, but I did not do enough. I did not play well enough. For us to to win. And that’s it. ‘