The Browns got the ball to begin the game. After a couple of good runs to start things off, QB Baker Mayfield had his first pass of the game tipped and picked off by CB Jimmy Smith, who beat WR Antonio Callaway to the spot.
Baltimore converted it into a 38-yard field goal by K Justin Tucker to take a 3-0 lead. Mayfield responded immediately on his next drive, as he hit Callaway for 38 yards and then WR Breshad Perriman for a 28-yard touchdown to give Cleveland a 7-3 lead.
Mayfield to Perriman for 6️⃣! pic.twitter.com/01atSAgzXi— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 30, 2018
Then it was Baltimore’s time to get hot, courtesy of QB Lamar Jackson’s legs. After a 24-yard run near the start of the drive, he finished the drive with a 25-yard run straight up the middle, untouched, as he faked out the Browns’ defense to give Baltimore a 10-7 lead.
Cleveland went three-and-out on their next drive, coming up short on third down. Baltimore then did nothing but run plays on their next drive, gashing Cleveland at will with misdirections. Jackson then took it himself again for an 8-yard touchdown to go up 17-7. The Ravens’ first-half domination continued, as they added a 35-yard field goal to go up 20-7 on their next drive.
Cleveland’s next drive wasn’t better. Mayfield, facing a 3rd-and-11, was picked off by Smith for the second time in the game off of a tipped pass. Inside of two minutes was a lot of craziness. At the goal line, Jackson jumped with the ball and stretched it to the goal line for a quarterback sneak, and the ball was punched out by Cleveland. SS Jabrill Peppers picked up the ball and would’ve had a walk-in touchdown return, but the officials signaled touchdown. Replay review overturned the touchdown, but because the whistle had blown, Cleveland could only recover at the 7 yard line.
On the first drive of the next play, Mayfield found Landry deep over the middle for what could’ve been a 93-yard touchdown pass, but the ball hit Landry in the helmet before dropping into his hands, leading to an incompletion. The Ravens got the ball back and punted, and Cleveland was backed up with 0:35 left and two timeouts. They still decided to be aggressive, getting passes of 21 and 40 yards to get into field goal range. An offsides penalty allowed K Greg Joseph to come out for a 46-yard field goal attempt, but it was wide left, keeping it a 20-7 game at the half.
Coming out of the half, Cleveland’s defense allowed one first down, but forced Baltimore to punt after that. Callaway then returned the punt 37 yards to give Cleveland the ball at midfield. On the first play, Mayfield faked a toss forward to RB Duke Johnson (who was coming in motion), and then found Landry wide open again up the seam. This time, he caught it and ran untouched to the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown, making it a 20-14 game.
Baltimore’s run game picked back up on their next drive, and Jackson had another long rushing touchdown. This time, it was called back due to a rather ticky tack holding penalty, which helped lead to the Ravens only being able to get a 44-yard field goal. That put the Ravens up 23-14 mid-way through the third quarter. Both teams traded three-and-outs, and then Cleveland started their next drive with a 42-yard deep ball to TE David Njoku. The drive sputtered a bit after that, but was enough to set up a 35-yard field goal by Joseph to make it a 23-17 game with 13:45 to go in the game.
Baltimore was given a favorable spot just beyond field goal range on their next drive for a first down. Gregg Williams should have challenged the play to make it 4th-and-short, but he didn’t. That allowed Baltimore to drain more clock and eventually get a critical 23-yard field goal to make it a two-possession game at 26-17 with just 7:20 remaining in the game.
Cleveland put together another touchdown drive, this time with it being capped off on a 1-yard pass from Mayfield to Callaway. The touchdown also gave Mayfield the all-time record for most passing touchdowns (27) by a rookie quarterback. The score was not 26-24, with Baltimore on top with 3:24 to go.
The Browns’ defense took both of their timeouts, setting up a 3rd-and-5. Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, the Steelers had just kicked a field goal to go up 16-13 on the Bengals with under two minutes to go. Jackson ran the keeper option, and was blitzed by the entire defense. His flip back to his outlet was fumbled (but recovered by Baltimore), leading to a punt with two minutes to go.
The Browns got two remarkable catches to get on the verge of field goal territory (would have been a 57-yard attempt). But Baltimore brought blitzes on four consecutive plays, and none of Mayfield’s passes could find receivers, with his fourth down attempt getting intercepted.
What a season it was for Mayfield and company, though — Cleveland was 0-16 last year, but improved to 7-8-1 in 2018.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 23-of-42 for 376 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT.
- RB Nick Chubb: 9 carries, 24 yards. 2 catches, -4 yards (3 targets).
- WR Jarvis Landry: 5 catches, 102 yards (9 targets). 1 TD.
- WR Rashard Higgins: 4 catches, 86 yards (6 targets).
- WR Antonio Callaway: 4 catches, 79 yards (7 targets). 1 TD.
- WR Breshad Perriman: 3 catches, 45 yards (4 targets). 1 TD.