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Browns vs. Bengals Final Score: Baker Mayfield has epic comeback performance as Cleveland wins 37-34 shootout

After starting 0-of-5 with an INT in the 1st quarter, Mayfield was 22-of-23 the rest of the game for 297 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Holy crap! What a game! I mean, of course it wasn’t all great, mostly on defense, and that first quarter. But QB Baker Mayfield had the pitchforks after him in the first quarter, only to light it up the rest of the contest. Let’s get to the recap of the game.


1st Quarter

Cincinnati got the ball to begin the game, and while Cleveland’s defense was strong on first and second down, they allowed QB Joe Burrow to complete first-down passes on all three of his third-down attempts. The last third down completion set up 1st-and-goal from the 2 yard line, but CB Denzel Ward jumped up to deflect his pass to the end zone and LB B.J. Goodson was there to catch the floating duck for an interception. Instead of it being a touchback, Goodson tried a return, but only out to the 4 yard line.

Unfortunately, it quickly turned disastrous for the Browns. After a 6-yard run by RB Kareem Hunt on first down, Mayfield tried to fire a pass down the right sideline to a streaking WR Odell Beckham Jr, but the pass was low and to the inside, allowing it to be picked off. On the return, both Beckham and C JC Tretter were writhing in pain as the Bengals took over at the 24 yard line. (Tretter did not miss any plays, while Beckham was ruled out for the remainder of the game).

A pass interference penalty on CB Kevin Johnson set up a 1st-and-goal for Cincinnati, and two quarterback sneaks later, Burrow plunged in for a touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead.

After a few successful running plays to begin the next drive, Hunt dropped a second down screen pass, and then Mayfield’s third down pass sailed way over the head of TE Harrison Bryant to bring out the punt unit. Cincinnati was driving on their next drive, but on a play where the clock was running down, DE Myles Garrett got a nice jump and stripped Burrow of the ball, with SS Ronnie Harrison recovering downfield at the 33 yard line.

Mayfield still couldn’t complete a pass when he came on the field, though, forcing K Cody Parkey to come out for a 42-yard field goal, which he connected on to make it a 7-3 game near the end of the first quarter.


2nd Quarter

A screen pass to RB Giovani Bernard gained 25 yards to begin the second quarter. A sack by Johnson from the slot helped keep Cincinnati to a 37-yard field goal by K Randy Bullock, extending their lead to 10-3.

Mayfield finally completed a pass on the next drive, a bootleg in which WR Jarvis Landry went 28 yards on a catch-and-run. Cleveland’s drive wasn’t necessarily pretty, but it ended up being 11 plays for 70 yards, taking up 7:30 of clock. On 3rd-and-2 from the 3 yard line, Mayfield found Bryant for a touchdown to tie things up at 10-10.

Unfortunately, Burrow immediately completed passes of 5, 7, and 27 yards heading into the two-minute warning to put Cincinnati into scoring territory. It looked like the defense might be able to hold the Bengals to a field goal after a sack by Garrett, but on 2nd-and-goal from the 11, Burrow fired a strike right over the middle to WR Tyler Boyd for a touchdown to put them back on top 17-10 heading to the second half.


3rd Quarter

Cleveland started the second half with a 35-yard connection to Bryant off of a playaction fake. A few plays later, Mayfield connected with Bryant again, this time on third down, to move the chains into the red zone. One more time, on 3rd-and-3 from the 6 yard line, Mayfield fired a rocket in to Bryant, who made a sliding catch in the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, tying things back up at 17-17.

The Bengals responded with an effective drive of their own, running 12 plays for 76 yards, taking up nearly 7 minutes of clock, and involving some trickery to keep Cleveland’s defense off balance (as if they weren’t already). Burrow dropped the snap on 3rd-and-goal from the 4 yard line, but still picked it up and delivered a great fade pass to WR A.J. Green — thankfully, Ward was able to knock the ball out for an incompletion. Bullock’s 23-yard field goal allowed Cincinnati to re-take the lead 20-17 with 2:51 to go in the quarter.


4th Quarter

The Browns faced a 3rd-and-4 situation to begin the fourth quarter. Mayfield responded with a 21-yard pass to WR Rashard Higgins, followed by a 19-yard pass to Higgins. Two plays later, Mayfield fired a strike to TE David Njoku for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Browns their first lead of the game at 24-20.

The question was, could the defense respond?

They had it gift wrapped to them, as CB Terrance Mitchell had one of the easiest interceptions in his breadbasket, and may have even had a pick six — instead, he dropped it in agony, and Burrow scrambled for a first down on the next play to midfield. After that, it was terrible tackling for the Browns’ defense, as Cincinnati receivers kept catching passes short of the first down, only to allow first downs — the last of which was a 16-yard touchdown pass to WR Tee Higgins to give the Bengals a 27-24 lead with 8:45 to go.

Mayfield began the next drive with a 20-yard strike to Higgins. A trick play allowed Landry to hit WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 25-yard gain to get into field goal range. Then, a swing pass to Hunt made it 1st-and-10 at the 11 yard line. Two plays later, Mayfield found Hunt again out of the backfield for an 8-yard touchdown, putting Cleveland back on top 31-27 with 4:53 to go. After starting the game 0-of-5, the touchdown meant that Mayfield was 18-of-his last-18 for 222 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Once again — could the defense do something to stop Burrow?

Burrow immediately hit Higgins for a 12-yard strike, Boyd for 15 yards, and WR Michael Thomas for 25 yards to get well into Cleveland territory. A false start made it 1st-and-15 from the 28 yard line, and then Burrow finally had a incompletion to set up 2nd-and-15. A 9-yard completion set up 3rd-and-6 from the 19 yard line, and a false start backed them up 5 more yards. On 3rd-and-11, Cincinnati ran a called quarterback draw, and Burrow got the 12 yards he needed for a first down.

The Bengals faced a 2nd-and-4 from the 6 yard line heading to the two-minute warning. After a 1-yard run on second down, the Browns burned their final timeout, setting up 3rd-and-3. They ran it again on third down, setting up 4th-and-inches from the 3 yard line. Burrow got the playaction touchdown pass to Bernard off of motion with 1:06 to go, putting the Bengals back on top 34-31.

Mayfield got completions of 13 and 8 yards, having 0:40 from near midfield. A 30-yard strike to Higgins up the right sideline put Cleveland in field goal range, but with 0:16 left, meaning the Browns needed to be smart with the clock. Miraculously, Mayfield completed hit Peoples-Jones for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 0:11 left! Parkey missed the extra point, making it a 37-34 game.

The Browns nearly gave up a Hail Mary, but the pass luckily fell incomplete, giving Cleveland the win. Surviving. What a comeback by Mayfield!


Up Next

The Browns will play at home next Sunday, November 1, in their Week 8 match-up against the Las Vegas Raiders. The game will be at 1:00 PM ET.


Quick Hitter Stats

  • QB Baker Mayfield: 22-of-28 for 297 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT.
  • RB Kareem Hunt: 18 catches, 76 yards. 3 catches, 36 yards, 1 TD.
  • WR Rashard Higgins: 6 catches, 110 yards.
  • WR Donovan Peoples-Jones: 3 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD.
  • TE Harrison Bryant: 4 catches, 56 yards, 2 TD.
  • DE Myles Garrett: 2 sacks, 1 FF.
  • CB Denzel Ward: 6 tackles, 2 passes defended.

Quick Hitter Notes

  • The Browns started this game really ugly. Mayfield was 0-of-5 with an INT in the first quarter, and Beckham left the game with a knee injury.
  • After the rough start, Mayfield was 22-of-23 for 297 yards and 5 touchdown passes the rest of the way. He set a franchise record for most consecutive completions by a Browns quarterback, and the only reason he had an incompletion during that stretch was because he spiked the ball at the end to stop the clock. This was the Mayfield of all, he is very much a swagger type of quarterback. And I hate to say it (to an extent), but he clearly has that comfort zone throwing to Higgins compared to some other receivers.
  • It wasn’t all Mayfield, though — his receivers stepped up in a major way. Bryant. Njoku. Higgins. And then Peoples-Jones with an absolutely baller catch to win it.
  • Aside from Garrett and a little bit of Ward, the defense absolutely sucked. The fact that the Bengals’ offensive line was already bad, and three starters got injured during the game, and the defense couldn’t do more, is a really bad sign.
  • K Cody Parkey has been money this season. But in hindsight, you have to be thinking, “Oh my god, he missed that last extra point — he probably would’ve missed the field goal at the end, had we not gotten the touchdown.”
  • Cincinnati nearly scored on the Hail Mary. Good lord.

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