Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns face a win-and-in situation against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, and the former No. 1 overall pick is embracing the moment.
Mayfield has helped lead the Browns to a 10-5, which has the team on the verge of ending a playoff drought that dates back to 2002. Mayfield took the blame for a loss last week against the Jets in which he fumbled three times — two in the second half becoming especially costly.
“I have had my back against the wall many a time in my life. I think I handle that type of stuff correctly,” Mayfield told reporters. “Just one at a time until Sunday. I can’t win it right now. Have to move on from the game and work to get there.”
#Browns QB Baker Mayfield: "I've had my back against the wall many times in my life. I handle that stuff correctly. One day at a time til Sunday. Can't win it right now."
— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) December 30, 2020
The top priority for Mayfield is taking care of the ball. He had one of his worst games of the season against the Steelers when they faced off in October, managing just 119 yards and tossing a pair of interceptions — the first that was returned for a touchdown just minutes into the matchup.
“It starts with me taking care of the ball. You look at the first third down of the game and the pick-six, that is not a great start for us and then just a bad light scramble-drill throw interception. We have to establish the run game. I have to take care of the ball. Just overall, there are so many things that when we watch that game we could have done better, but you do not want to dwell on that. It comes down to the fundamentals of what our identity is.”
Mayfield has passed for 3367 yards, 25 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions this season. While the Browns have ridden the run game to a lot of wins this season, Mayfield’s quarterback rating on 95.8 is a career-best. For Mayfield, he’s just trying to keep everything in perspective as the Browns try to make the postseason.
“Obviously, winning is a hell of a lot more fun than the situations I have been in in the past. Instead of having vacation scheduled, we are focused on taking care of business this week and seeing what happens after that. It is one day at a time right now. That is a good thing. That is a really good thing for us. Everybody here has worked so hard for these moments right here and for these games to truly matter so we just have to seize the moment.”
Baker Mayfield Has ‘Perfect’ Day of Practice
The Browns have not had a normal week, with multiple COVID-19 incidents interrupting the week. Cleveland has closed its facility twice this week, but have still managed to sneak some practices in.
Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said he felt like Mayfield had a “perfect” practice on Wednesday.
“I expect Baker Mayfield to bounce back,” Val Pelt said. “Not his best game. He’s kicking himself for fumbles. But he’s had his back against his wall and is resilient. Practice yesterday was incredible. I think he had a perfect day of practice.”
#Browns OC Alex Van Pelt: I expect Baker Mayfield to bounce back. Not his best game. He's kicking himself for fumbles. But he's had back against his wall and is resilient. Practice yesterday was incredible. I think he had a perfect day of practice
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) December 31, 2020
Browns Announced Positive Test Results
The Browns got some good news on Thursday, with Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge and Jacob Phillips — who missed last week’s game as close contacts — returning to practice.
However, two more positive tests put a damper on things once against, with rookie tight end Harrison Bryant and linebacker Malcolm Smith testing positive for COVID-19, per NFL Network.
“The Cleveland Browns were informed of two additional positive COVID-19 test results among our players this morning,” the team said in a statement. “The Browns facility is currently closed while contact tracing is conducted to identify any high-risk close contacts. The team will continue to work remotely this morning while following the NFL-NFLPA intensive protocols as the health and safety of our team, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority.”
Bryant and Smith will be out this weekend and likely for the first-round playoff matchup, if the Browns were to make it there. Linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Andrew Sendejo will also miss the matchup against the Steelers.