Baker Mayfield continues to impress his Browns teammates with an unflappability that was on display throughout Sunday’s overtime win over the Ravens.
Typically, Baltimore’s defense has been nightmare fuel for rookie quarterbacks, entering Sunday’s game with a 15-5 record against first-year signal-callers over the past decade.
But Mayfield, they say, isn’t just any rookie quarterback.
“Baker is a different breed,” running back Carlos Hyde said. “He is not like most other quarterbacks, and he’s a big-time competitor. He’s just non-stop and always comes back out slinging the ball. Even when he makes mistakes, he still comes out and plays the same way. He has a lot of confidence.”
There was no rattling Mayfield, who passed for a career-high 342 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 25-of-43 attempts. Harassed by the Ravens all afternoon, Mayfield saved his best for last, engineering a late drive in overtime that set up a game-winning field goal with 2 seconds to go in the extra period.
Just like in last week’s overtime loss to the Raiders, the youngster didn’t blink.
“He makes plays. I told him, I haven’t been around him a ton, but there’s just something about this young man,” coach Hue Jackson said. “He has a feel to him. He doesn’t blink at situations or opportunities.”
“Calm, collected and unfazed,” wide receiver Jarvis Landry added. “He stepped up big and obviously made plays with his arm, feet, getting out of some sacks and extending drives. For a rookie, he’s doing it.”
It’s why the Browns made Mayfield the first overall NFL Draft pick this past spring, selecting the former Oklahoma star and Heisman Trophy winner over several talented signal-callers. In doing so, they cited Mayfield’s leadership and tenacity among physical tools that would go a long way for a franchise that’s longed for a franchise quarterback.
In three games, Mayfied has looked the part and been a tone-setter for a team that’s starting to come into form. Closing out Sunday’s game, he said, “shows that we’re starting to change the culture around here. That guys early on thinking in the past that when something bad happens, then you kind of get in the tank a little bit, put their head down, but we have a team right now that is starting to believe in themselves and rightfully so.
“I take a lot of pride in the culture change and being positive,” he continued, “always moving forward and doing your job no matter what the situation is. That was big for us.”
Indeed, when the going got tough Sunday, Mayfield buckled down and lifted up everyone around him.
“It’s his attitude and charisma. Like I said, he didn’t budge. He didn’t flinch. He continued to find ways to get the ball in people’s hands and let them make plays, and that’s the biggest thing,” Landry said. “Things like that you don’t see every day in a rookie quarterback and making decisions like that.”
The Ravens took notice, too. “Baker is one of those guys. We talked about it all week. He’s a fighter. That guy can make plays. He’s a playmaker. He’s has that ‘it’ factor to him,” Baltimore safety Tony Jefferson added. “We were talking a little trash on the field. You have to respect a guy like that, especially a rookie who’s coming into a defense like ours. I thought he did pretty well today.”
Jackson lauded Mayfield’s resiliency once again in the face of adversity. For example, after throwing an interception on his third pass of the game, he responded by tossing a pivotal 19-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins shortly before halftime.
“Something might have went wrong the play before, and it’s water off of the duck’s back to him," Jackson said. "He's on to the next play. He's ready. ‘Give me the next play and let’s go.’ That's a good quality to have. He’s doing a great job for us.”