How dangerous was it for the Cleveland Browns Sunday of their loss to the New York Jets? Attributable to accidents and COVID-19 protocol, seven key Browns gamers didn’t play within the sport, and even the gamers who did present up didn’t present up.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield put himself on the high of the latter checklist following Cleveland’s crushing 23-16 loss, which prevented the Browns from clinching a spot within the playoffs for the primary time in 18 years.
“No excuses, plain and easy. I failed this workforce,” mentioned Mayfield, who was sacked 4 occasions, fumbled thrice, and, for the primary time in 5 video games, didn’t throw a landing go.
“We would have liked to win this sport and I didn’t do adequate,” Mayfield mentioned. “Put it on me for not doing my job, for not enjoying at a excessive degree like I ought to have, and for not getting these guys going and ending out this sport. . . This one is on me. . . This group fought in the present day, however I didn’t do sufficient and play effectively sufficient for us to win.”
As a result of they had been unable to beat the one-win Jets, the Browns should now should beat the 12-win Steelers on Sunday in Cleveland, so as to safe a spot to the playoffs for the primary time since 2002, when the Browns’ coach was Butch Davis and their quarterback was Tim Sofa.
“We didn’t care for enterprise,” mentioned Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski. “We had three fumbles, seven drops, no takeaways. Simply sloppy. We’ve acquired to personal this factor, and make corrections.”
Stefanski wasn’t as practically as laborious on Mayfield as Mayfield was on Mayfield.
“It’s not one particular person,” Stefanski mentioned. “Baker had some nice performs and a few he needs he had again. I’ve to place guys in higher place. I’ve acquired to personal this sport similar to the gamers. I’ve acquired to name higher performs.”
Mayfield was notably upset together with his three fumbles, certainly one of which got here on a vital quarterback sneak late within the sport.
“I put three balls on the bottom. I would like to carry on to the rattling ball,” he mentioned. “We had precisely what we wanted to win this sport and I didn’t do adequate. I would like to carry onto the ball throughout a quarterback sneak.”
For the Browns, there is no such thing as a longer any margin for error. They both beat the Steelers on Sunday, or they lose and go residence. Previous to the sport with the Jets there was a state of affairs during which the Browns might have received out and conceivably received the AFC North. Now, in an in any other case exhilarating, turnaround season, they’re attempting to keep away from dropping their final two video games, and lengthening their playoff drought to 19 years.
“Backs to the wall. We now have to win to get in,” mentioned Mayfield of Sunday’s sport with Pittsburgh.
“It’s win or go residence. It’s a playoff sport, just about,” mentioned Browns working again Kareem Hunt.
The Browns are hopeful of getting many of the lacking gamers from the Jets sport in uniform for the Steelers sport. That features their 4 high receivers, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and KhaDarel Hodge, who, 24 hours earlier than the Jets sport, had been all positioned on the COVID-19 reserve checklist after having shut contact with linebacker B.J. Goodson, who examined optimistic. Rookie left deal with Jedrick Wills missed the Jets sport attributable to COVID-19 protocols after he had signs, although he has not examined optimistic. As well as, beginning left guard Wyatt Teller has missed the final two video games with an injured ankle.
Since re-entering the NFL in 1999, the Browns have misplaced 35 of the 42 video games they’ve performed with the Steelers. There was one tie. The 2 groups met earlier this yr, on Oct. 18 in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers rolled to a straightforward 38-7 victory. In that sport Mayfield accomplished simply 10 passes, threw two interceptions, was sacked 4 occasions and had a quarterback ranking of 54.9.
“We’re rather a lot higher workforce now than once we performed them the primary time,” Hunt mentioned. “I imagine we are able to compete with anyone.”
Since that sport, the Browns are 6-3, and Mayfield has thrown 15 landing passes, two interceptions, and has a 102.6 quarterback ranking. He went into the sport with the Jets enjoying the perfect soccer of his NFL profession. In 4 profession begins in opposition to Pittsburgh, Mayfield is 1-3. His one victory got here on Nov. 14, 2019, a 21-7 Cleveland win during which Mayfield accomplished 17 of 32 passes for 193 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Sunday’s sport with the Steelers would be the largest sport of Mayfield’s profession, and the largest of Stefanski’s head teaching profession.
“All of our video games are huge video games,” Stefanski mentioned. “However the strain is exterior. The Steelers are a well-coached workforce with a number of good gamers. I’ve a ton of respect for the way in which they play.”
It’s a daily season-ending sport that for Browns followers couldn’t have extra using on it. The opponent is the arch-rival Steelers. The stakes are making the playoffs or not making the playoffs.
If Cleveland doesn’t make the playoffs, the haunting loss received’t be the one to the Steelers however the potential win that acquired away from the Browns in opposition to the lowly Jets.