Before the game Thursday night, optimism for my Cleveland Browns was at an all time high. We put together solid performances against the New Orleans Saints and the Pittsburgh Steelers in our first two games of the season. Now, we were playing a weak New York Jets team with a rookie quarterback in our home stadium.
Then, the first half happened. And the offense destroyed my optimism. Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for 19 yards in almost an entire half, according to herosports.com. He completed 4/14 of his passes, and the offense completed only four first downs with Taylor leading the offense. “Baker Mayfield” chants erupted from frustrated Browns fans, and fate answered their call for first overall pick Baker Mayfield to play. Taylor came out of the game due to a concussion late in the second quarter with the Browns trailing 14-0.
Mayfield woke everyone up, players and fans alike. The rookie quarterback brought an energy to FirstEnergy Stadium, bringing a shot of adrenaline this franchise needs. Mayfield threw for 201 yards, completing 17/23 passes according to espn.com. The University of Oklahoma product erased the 14 point deficit, leading the Browns to four scoring drives. Trailing 17-14 in the fourth quarter, Mayfield drove the Browns down the field on a 75 yard touchdown drive, capped by a 2 yard Carlos Hyde touchdown run with 2:04 left in the game. This touchdown drive gave the Browns their first victory in 635 days. 635 days, you read that right.
Mayfield gives us hope. Since 1999, the instability and weakness at the quarterback position has symbolized the struggles of the entire franchise. The Browns have had 29 different starting quarterbacks since 1999, and maybe we’ve finally found the right one in Mayfield.
He was accurate, decisive and poised. Mayfield threw bullets from the pocket to the middle of the field, he scrambled and threw accurate passes while on the run and he even caught a pass on a two point conversion to tie the game at 14-14. He came into a nationally televised game trailing 14-0, making his rookie debut. But there were no signs of nervousness from Mayfield. We Browns fans hope this comeback is the first of many in the Baker Mayfield era. We hope he’s the energetic, positive leader we’ve been searching for. We hope he can finally turn this organization into a winning franchise. The key word is hope. This was one game, and Mayfield could end up turning into just another Browns quarterback bust. But for now, it’s hard to imagine a negative future for Mayfield after his stellar performance on Thursday gave Browns fans their first win in almost two years.