Baker Mayfield has plenty of good memories inside AT&T Stadium, the site of the Browns' Week 4 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
His first performance at the stadium came in 2011, when he was the starting quarterback for Lake Travis High School in the state championship game. Mayfield threw a decisive touchdown pass in Lake Travis' 22-7 win and led his school to its fifth consecutive state championship.
His last pass inside the stadium was in 2017 for the Big 12 Championship. By then, every football fan in the country knew about Mayfield, the potential Heisman Trophy winner and electric quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma won, 41-17. Mayfield was MVP.
Mayfield, who was born and raised in Austin, Texas, is hoping to add more special moments Sunday in his return to AT&T Stadium. He's hoping to find that same Texas magic against the Cowboys in a crucial early-season matchup that should be a strong test for Cleveland, which is trying to capture its first 3-1 start since 2001.
"It's always fun to play there," Mayfield said. "I'll have a lot of friends and family there. I've got to treat it like any other game. We've got to go do our job. Growing up and seeing the high school state championships there and playing there a couple times in college, it's a great stadium."
Check out the best photos from the Browns win over the Washington Football Team yesterday by the Browns photo team
Perhaps his familiarity in the road setting will help the Browns continue their recent offensive success. Cleveland has scored 30 or more points in two consecutive games for the first time since 2010, and Mayfield has registered back-to-back games with a passer rating over 100.0 and at least two passing touchdowns for the first time since his rookie season.
Mayfield has shown early promise under the tutelage and schemes of coach Kevin Stefanski, and while not every play has been perfect, the Browns believe they've found a formula that leads to winning football games. The Cowboys, who have given up over 400 yards per game, are the next challenger.
"(Mayfield) is doing a nice job for us," Stefanski said. "He's spreading the ball around. We feel like we have multiple guys that can be productive on any given day, and I think when we spread it around like that, that is a function of him being smart with the ball and taking what is there."
Stefanski is right: Mayfield is spreading the ball to just about every offensive playmaker. He targeted his 23 pass attempts to eight different receivers in the victory last Sunday against Washington, and the Browns have certainly found success by balancing Mayfield's passing abilities with the rushing prowess of RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Chubb and Hunt are the only two backs on the same team to have more than 200 rushing yards. Their ability to keep a defense guessing at the line of scrimmage has opened passing space for Mayfield, and that strategy could help him find some more big plays inside one of the most successful venues of his playing career.
"We just have to go up there with the same mindset when we played Washington, attack that front and go from there," Mayfield said. "If they have safeties down and we have one-on-one matchups, we are going to take those shots, but if they are going to take away that, then we need to be able to complete balls underneath and hand the ball off."
A Week 4 win in AT&T Stadium won't carry quite the same weight as a win in the high school state championship game or conference championship, but it could be another memorable matchup to stash in Mayfield's collection of top career moments. The Browns haven't beaten the Cowboys since 1994, but maybe having one of Texas' finest quarterback products will make a winning difference.
He's made plenty of big plays inside the spacious stadium, after all, and the Browns are hoping to see more of them Sunday.
"Whatever it takes to win," Mayfield said. "It'll be a fun one."