Baker Mayfield, number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, made his regular season debut Thursday night as the Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets 21-17 at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland. It was the Browns’ first win since December 24, 2016, and improved their record on the season to 1-1-1.
Starter Tyrod Taylor exited the game in the second quarter with a reported head injury. Mayfield entered the game with the Browns trailing 14-0 and a little over two minutes left to play in the half. On his first play from scrimmage Mayfield found receiver Jarvis Landry for a 14-yard gain. Landry lead the Browns in receiving on the night with eight receptions and 103 yards. The drive would end with Cleveland’s first points of the night, a field goal to make it 14-3.
The Browns offense, which was anemic in the first half, was given a spark by Mayfield. In the second half, he led three scoring drives to give the Browns the lead. Mayfield even caught a two-point conversion attempt on a Philly Special-like play to even the game at 14. Both of the Browns’ touchdown drives ended with Carlos Hyde rushing touchdowns, his third and fourth of the season respectively. Mayfield ended the night with 201 yards on 17/23 passing.
Mayfield’s rookie counterpart on the Jets, Sam Darnold, was not as brilliant. After two touchdowns by former Brown Isaiah Crowell in the first half, the Jets offense stalled. In the second half, the Jets turned the ball over three times allowing the Browns to stage a comeback. Darnold finished the night with 169 passing yards, two interceptions and a passer rating of 38.3. Both of his interceptions came with under two minutes to play, on drives where the Jets had an opportunity to take to lead. The Jets have fallen to 1-2 on the young season.
Next week the Browns will fly out to Oakland to take on the Raiders, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see #6 under center for the Browns in that match-up.