If you took a journey back in time 635 days, you would find the newest iPhone was the iPhone 7, the number one song in the country was “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd, Barack Obama was the president, and the Cleveland Browns won their game against the, then-San Diego Chargers. Fast forward to last week’s Thursday Night Football Game, and you would find that the Browns actually haven’t won a game since that Christmas Eve game back in 2016. Well, the shame of this long winless drought was put to a stop when the Browns defeated the New York Jets by a score of 21-17.
The Browns are notorious for always being one of the worst, if not the worst, teams in the National Football League. Any casual football fan can tell you this. The Browns have squandered first round pick after first round pick, haven’t had stability at the quarterback position for years, and haven’t put together winning season since 2012. However, the 2018 season is the one where the Browns are supposed to turn it around, or at least improve upon their 0-16 season in 2017. There is a lot of excitement around the Browns this year. The buzz comes from offseason acquisitions of players like Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor, and first round picks Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward, the return of Josh Gordon, and the signing of new offensive and defensive coordinators. The Browns even made an appearance on Hard Knocks, a HBO exclusive show that highlights a NFL team during their training camp. This season is supposed to be different.
In week one of the 2018 season, the Browns tied the Pittsburgh Steelers, even when having a 6-1 turnover advantage. In week two they lost to the New Orleans Saints 21-18 in a game where the Browns’ kicker missed two field goals and two extra points that would have arguably led the Browns to a victory. The 0-2 start to the season started to paint an all too similar picture for Browns fans. Then came week three where the Browns played the New York Jets in a primetime game on last Thursday night. As the first half of the game was coming to a close, it seemed as though the Browns would once again be met with the grueling realization of another loss, and an extension of the now infamous winless streak. Even with all this new talent, the Browns looked to be stuck in their losing ways. However, something, that would be detrimental to most teams happened near the end of the first half. Tyrod Taylor, the Browns starting quarterback, got injured, and in stepped the back-up Baker Mayfield, the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft and last year’s heisman trophy winner.
Down 14-0 when Mayfield entered the game, the chances of the Browns pulling out a victory were not high. Mayfield, known not only for his physical skills but also for his unmatched competitiveness during his college career, seemed to uplift the morale and energy of the team. In his first drive of the game, Baker led the team to a field goal. This made the score 14-3. Then came the second half. The Browns came out of the halftime locker room playing with more confidence and excitement than they had the whole game. Their rookie backup quarterback proceeded to lead the offense to four scoring drives, one of which included a two point conversion where Mayfield caught the scoring pass, and he finished the game completing 17 of 21 passes for 201 yards. The Browns completed the second half outscoring the Jets 18-3, for a final score of 21-17. Both the stadium and the city were in a frenzy. The Browns had finally won their first game in nearly two years. This is why they drafted Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick. His performance has led some to believe that the Brown’s franchise savior has finally arrived.
Mayfield, through all the craziness the win brought, remained humble and focused after the game, praising his teammates, coaches, and the Browns fans. When asked about his thoughts upon entering the game in a postgame interview, he said, “Don’t overthink it. Live in the moment. I have to command the offense. I have to command the team. I have to bring the spark and give us a chance to win.” He certainly brought the spark.
The Baker Mayfield train has left the station, and only time will tell whether it will land the Browns and their fans in the promised land or come to a screeching halt of losses after losses like before. One thing is for certain though – everyone will be watching the Baker show this weekend.