The Cleveland Browns saw their playoff hopes take a hit after a 23-16 loss against the Jets on Sunday and quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t shy away from taking the blame.
Mayfield was responsible for three fumbles that turned the tide of the game, the final coming on a fourth down with just over a minute left that was the final straw for the shorthanded Browns in the loss.
Mayfield answered just one question in his postgame press conference but covered all the bases with his answer before walking off.
“It is pretty much 2020 all in 24 hours. This is what happens, and you have to adapt and change. It is not an excuse. I am just going to go ahead and answer all of the questions right now. None of this, there is no excuse,” Mayfield told reporters. “Yeah, it sucks that we did not have our guys, but we believe in the guys we have in this locker room, no matter who it is. That is why they are here. That is why they are Cleveland Browns. That is why they were brought here. We suited them [up]. We believe in them, and I told every single one of those guys that.”
Baker Mayfield, Browns Not Making Excuses After Loss
The Browns were playing without their top four wide receivers — Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge and Donovan Peoples-Jones — who were all out due to being close contacts with linebacker BJ Goodson, who tested positive for COVID-19. Rookie linebacker Jacob Phillips also missed the game. The players were reportedly sharing a recovery pool, and one wasn’t wearing a mask.
Close contacts of #Browns LB B.J. Goodson were recently in team's recovery pool area with him, and the league had video showing at least one of those players wasn't wearing a mask correctly during another interaction, a source said, confirming an NFL Network report.
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) December 27, 2020
Despite that, Mayfield threw 53 times, completing 28 passes for 285 yards. The Browns usually strong run-game never got on track, totaling 45 yards.
“There is no excuse. Plain and simple, I failed this team. I put three balls on the ground – two of them they recovered and the other on the fourth down, I just need to hold onto the damn ball,” Mayfield told reporters. “I am proud of these guys being able to step up. These guys did not even think they were going to play. For anybody to criticize them, shame on you. Put it on me for not doing my job, for not playing at a high level like I should have and for not getting these guys going and finishing out this game.”
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski shared a similar sentiment.
“We got beat today. Credit to the Jets. They beat us. I got outcoached. We got outplayed,” Stefanski said. “We did the things you can’t do. We were minus-two in the turnover battle – you can’t do that. Penalties. Drops. Not good. That is going to get you beat, and it did so credit to the Jets.”
Kevin Stefanski on 23-16 loss to Jets: "We got beat today. I got outcoached, we got outplayed. We did the things we can’t do, minus-2 in turnover battle, penalties, drops, not good. Credit to the Jets."
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) December 27, 2020
Browns Playoff Hopes Comes Down to Final Week
The Browns could have locked up their first playoff berth since 2002 with a victory, but instead, have a win-and-in situation against the Steelers next week. Pittsburgh wrapped up the division with a win over the Colts on Sunday.
“Here is the thing, this one is going to sting for a day or two, but we have the Steelers to win and get in,” Mayfield said after the game. “I am going to have to roll with these punches. Backs against the wall, and we have to win to get in. This group fought today, but I did not do enough and play well enough for us to win, and that is it.”
The Browns could get in with a loss, but would need the Jaguars — the worst team in the NFL — to beat the Colts. They’d also need the Titans to lose to the Green Bay Packers (Week 16) and Houston Texans (Week 17), the Dolphins to win or tie vs. Bills and the Ravens to win or tie vs. Bengals.