When the Cleveland Browns made Antonio Callaway inactive Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, the thought from most was that veteran pass-catcher Rashard Higgins would have a bigger role in the offense.
That was not the case for most of the afternoon, but when it mattered most, Baker Mayfield hooked up with Higgins — his safety blanket wide receiver.
Higgins caught his first touchdown of the season with just under two minutes left in the game, breaking wide open on a 7-yard pass.
Higgins had a hilarious scoreboard interview following the game when asked about the catch.
It was his only catch of the day, as Higgins was out-snapped by KhaDarel Hodge against the Bills, who functioned as the Browns No. 3 wide receiver. Running back Kareem Hunt, who debuted for the Browns, also lined up as a pass-catcher on multiple occasions.
That being said, the man known as “Hollywood” stepped into the spotlight when his team needed him most, helping keep the Browns slight glimmer of postseason hope alive as they moved to 3-6.
The Bills drove with under a minute left and had a chance late. However, a 53-yard field goal that would have tied the game was no good.
Mayfield finished the day 25-of-37 for 231 and two touchdowns. Jarvis Landry led the way receiving with 9 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown on the Browns opening drive. He also made a clutch catch down the stretch to keep Cleveland’s final scoring drive alive.
Odell Beckham led the Browns in targets with 12, but hauled in just 5 catches for 57 yards.
Nick Chubb rushed for 116 yards on 20 carries, while Kareem Hunt had 11 touches in his season debut, running for 30 yards on 4 carries and catching seven balls for 44 yards.
Rashard Higgins has had Tumultuous Season With Browns
The Browns staff has addressed Higgins’ lack of role in the offense various times this season, but offensive coordinator Todd Monken gave the strongest statement to date on what he wants to see out of the fourth-year wide receiver while speaking to the media on Thursday.
“First off, it is tough for Rashard just the way the year started and in terms of I thought had a really good preseason and camp, then had a real good start to the year and then he got hurt,” Monken said. “I would not say it was a setback, but it certainly does not help when you are not practicing and you are not out there.”
Higgins missed five games with a sprained MCL he suffered in the team’s opener against the Titans, but since being back, he had been targeted just three times. On top of that, there was a curious situation against the Seahawks where Higgins suited up, but didn’t see the field.
Last year Higgins had 39 catches for 572 yards and 4 touchdowns — all career highs — and built a strong rapport with Mayfield.
Browns Erase Goal Line Embarrassment With Win
If the Browns wouldn’t have been able to come up with the win, it would have been easy to point to where they lost it.
In the first quarter the Browns have eight chances from inside the Bills 3-yard line. They came away with no points.
The play selection featured five Nick Chubb runs and three passes. All three of Mayfield’s passes were to Odell Beckham Jr., who drew a pair of pass interference penalties.
The futility was actually historic, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter. They were the first team in 26 years to run six plays from an opponents 2-yard line or closer on a possession without scoring.
And just for good measure, the Browns got another chance inside the 5-yard line late in the second quarter, but were unable to score. Landry got the Browns as close as the 1-yard line, but a run for loss by the Chubb and a false start forced the Browns to kick a field goal.
However, in the end, a win is a win — no matter how ugly it might be.