The Cleveland Browns finished their 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots without Baker Mayfield, who exited in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
While Mayfield did not return to the game, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said his quarterback could have if the game was closer. With the Patriots coasting to the blowout victory, there wasn’t a lot of incentive to put a compromised Mayfield back on the field.
“Baker’s a competitor,” Stefanski told reporters after the loss. “Just didn’t feel it was the right thing to put him back out there.”
The Browns play the Lions next week and Mayfield sounded a bit uncertain about his availability for the matchup.
“I’ve got to find a way to get as healthy as possible,” Mayfield told reporters, mentioning there was no structural damage in the knee. “Pretty beat up right now. We’ll see. Awkward landing.”
Browns Fall to 5-5, Not Meeting Standard
The Browns have had some big highs and low lows this season, with Sunday serving as another reminder of how inconsistent they can be.
“We talked about a certain standard that you set for yourself and you have to live up to every day,” Mayfield said. “When you’re sitting here at 5-5, obviously something’s wrong. Got to get it fixed.”
Against the Patriots, the game was basically over by halftime, with Mac Jones and Co. scoring nearly at will.
“It got out of hand pretty quickly,” Mayfield said. “After coming out at halftime, we felt good about only being down two scores. It would have been a different ballgame if we could have executed that first drive of the second half. You’ve got to seize those moments.”
Luckily for the Browns, they’re still relatively in the mix in the AFC North logjam, just one win back of the 6-3 Ravens. However, they’re running out of time to turn things around and have to string together some wins.
“I’m not going to look at it like 9-8 or 10-7. We need to take it one week at a time,” Mayfield said. “Got to find ways to win each week. That’s the reality.”
Case Keenum Waiting in Wings if Mayfield Unable to Go
If Mayfield is unable to go, the Browns would turn to Case Keenum for his second start this season. Keenum completed 21 of 33 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos earlier this season in a 17-14 victory.
The Browns also played against the Patriots without starting running back Nick Chubb, who missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19. The Browns are also without Kareem Hunt, who is on IR with a calf injury.
“I think it is really any position you can look at and say you are going to get into your depth at some point in the season because that is the nature of this beast,” Stefanski said this week. “It is the next man up mentality. The guys have proven to do that over the course of this season and last season. Whoever is available to us, that is who we will use.”
D’Ernest Johnson filled in against New England, notching 99 yards on 19 carries and catching seven balls for 58 yards.