It happened…finally. The Cleveland Browns – aided by a mid-game relief appearance from Baker Mayfield, the quarterback the team selected with the first overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft – won a football game for the first time in nearly two calendar years.
Mayfield took over for an injured Tyrod Taylor while the Brows were trailing 14-0 in the second quarter Thursday night in Cleveland. From there he completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards and led a Browns offense that outscored the Jets 21-3 the rest of the way – ending in a 21-17 victory, Cleveland’s first win in 635 days.
Good Teams Win, Great Teams Cover
Not only did the Browns win the game, but they covered the spread as favorites for just the second time since 2015. The Browns are now 3-0 against the spread this year, covering as 3.5-point underdogs in Week 1 against Pittsburgh and again in Week 2 as 9.5-point underdogs against New Orleans.
The Browns became a popular preseason choice of bettors to exceed their projected 5.5-win total for the season.
Cleveland closed as 3-point favorites at home against the visiting Jets. Home field advantage in football is typically worth three points in the eyes of oddsmakers, so at a neutral site the two teams would be considered evenly matched.
Upon Mayfield’s entrance, the Jets and Browns looked anything but evenly matched. He entered the game before half and his first drive ended in a field goal, the team’s first points of the game.
“Once Baker got in the game at quarterback you just saw a different rhythm, which was good to see,” Browns head coach Hue Jackson said. “He came off the bench, went in there and led this team and helped get this team to victory.”
Beer Me! Time To Celebrate
Mayfield said after the game that he was more concerned with sparking a Browns comeback than the fact that he was making his highly anticipated NFL debut.
“Treat it like any other time. Got to go do my job,” Mayfield said. “Got to bring a spark and give us a chance to win. That’s my job and so that’s what I was focused on.”
Mayfield said winning for the first time since Christmas Eve 2016 was extra special because it was in front of the hometown fans who have thirsted for a win.
“You got to feel the energy of the crowd, how bad they wanted it as well,” he said.
Winning is always a good reason to celebrate. When a win breaks a losing streak like the one the Browns carried into Thursday night, the occasion calls for something more.
The collective thirst of Browns fans was figuratively quenched by Mayfield, but Anheuser-Busch took matters more literally, putting 10 refrigerators stocked full of 200 Bud Light bottles each at various locations throughout the city.
When the Browns won the game, the refrigerators were unlocked with a WiFi code, and the beer started flowing through the bars of Cleveland, and the celebration the city waited two years for was fully underway.
Jackson was optimistic about the direction of his team after the game, saying it won’t be the last time the team gives fans reason to celebrate.
“Everybody wants to make this a big moment, winning is outstanding. But we plan on doing this more. This is just the start of it, I truly believe, for this football team,” Jackson said