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Game Day

Baker Mayfield owns turnovers in otherwise impressive debut as Browns starter

OAKLAND — A heartbreaking/dramatic/frustrating loss to the Raiders hardly fell square on the shoulders of Baker Mayfield, but the Browns rookie quarterback sure acted like it did. 

Mayfield accounted for four turnovers in a game in which he was otherwise impressive, giving his team multiple opportunities to win a 45-42 overtime thriller at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

That didn’t matter much to Mayfield, who took ownership of those miscues in what was his first career NFL start since being named the team’s starter earlier this week. 

“I’m the quarterback of this team,” he said. “It’s on me.”

To be sure, the play of Mayfield, who passed for 295 yards and two touchdowns, nearly lifted Cleveland to its second win of the season and its first road victory in almost three years. While the 23-year-old wasn’t as flawless as he was in last week’s comeback win over the Jets, coach Hue Jackson said Mayfield gave them a chance. 

“I thought he was good other than the turnovers,” Jackson said. “I thought he made some plays. I thought he put the team in certain situations in position to win and we got to find a way to win these kind of games.” 

That’s what Jackson envisioned when he handed over the keys to Cleveland’s offense Monday following a brilliant debut off the bench for then-injured starter Tyrod Taylor. The Browns rolled up nearly 500 yards of offense, and their 42 points were the most since 2007. 

Jackson, who suggested not all of Mayfield’s turnovers were completely his fault, said the youngster will grow from this experience. “You’ve got to be team protecting as you were saying in certain situations,” he said, “but I don’t want to rein him in because I like the things he’s doing." 

Mayfield’s teammates echoed a similar sentiment.

“He did a good job. I mean, he was always confident in the huddle no matter what happened, whether there was a turnover or a bad play he was ready to play the next play,” veteran left guard Joel Bitonio said. “He did some really good things and we gotta protect him, we have to make sure he’s doing all right. I know he took some shots we didn’t want him to take but he did good. He showed some promise, you know I know he wanted to win, but we’re getting there.” 

“We found a way to fight back and get up by two scores,” wide receiver Jarvis Landry added. “And he kept us in the game, the whole game.”

Even Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, who praised Mayfield in the week leading up to the game, offered more kind words. “The way he plays, the confidence that he has. He got out of trouble and made some unbelievable throws under fire today,” he said.

“He has a bright future, and I think Cleveland found their quarterback. They have been complaining about not having one for a while, but it’s pretty obviously they got one.”

Mayfield, meanwhile, was none too pleased with Sunday’s outcome. The Browns led by as many as 14 points in the second half and were unable to fend off a charging Oakland team that tied the game with 30 seconds to play in regulation. 

“We turned the ball over way too many times, gave them a chance,” he said. “When you turn the ball over like we did, like I did, you’re not going to win those games. So we saw the end result of that.”

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