Baker Mayfield has reviewed and digested all of the moments that cost him a better performance last Saturday in Green Bay.
The process wasn't easy. It never is after a loss or a four-interception game, the first of Mayfield's career and one that was far from the standards he established for himself four years into the NFL. But Mayfield had no choice but to review the film of the 24-22 loss anyways — it's the best way for him to put the game behind him and focus on what's next.
"I go back and watch what I need to," he said Thursday in a Zoom call with local reporters. "It's not harping on it too much because we were still close to winning that game. Did I play my best? Absolutely not. Did the rest of the guys around me play great? Yeah, I think they did."
Mayfield reiterated Thursday his confidence isn't shaken, both for himself and for the Browns, and for good reason: The Browns still have a path to the playoffs, and although they don't have full control of their destiny, Mayfield and his teammates have plenty of optimism that they can still get there.
The Browns are 7-8 and fourth in a tightly-packed AFC North, but they could take one giant leap toward cracking the playoffs if they defeat the Steelers at Heinz Field on Monday night.
They also need the Bengals to lose Sunday against the Chiefs before they come to Cleveland in Week 18, where the Browns would also need a win to clinch the playoffs by winning the AFC North. They also need the Ravens to lose one of their last two games against the Rams or Steelers.
Yes, a playoff berth will require favorable results in two games beyond the Browns' control, but there's still a chance, and it'll become much more likely to come true if the Browns take care of business Monday in Pittsburgh.
"Anytime we're still in contention for the playoffs, it's a great opportunity for us," Mayfield said. "That's the way I'm going to handle it."
Check out exclusive photos from the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus of the Browns preparing for their Week 17 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Browns have two games left to salvage a season that hasn't gone as planned but still features opportunities to capture all of their team goals — mainly, a playoff appearance. Mayfield, who's thrown for 2,825 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season, is determined to help them get there, but he knows the last two games will have to be two of his best performances of the season to give the Browns their best shot.
Mayfield made it clear Thursday he's flushed the past struggles from this season behind him. That process, of course, is much easier to do when a playoff spot is still in play, which has allowed the Browns to focus solely on preparations for the Steelers and taking the next step toward the postseason.
"Any season is going to have its ups and downs," Mayfield said. "It comes down to handling your business, trying to find ways to win any possible way and doing that week in and week out. Right now, we're in a situation where it's very apparent that we have to win this game. That's our job right now, and we're focused on that."
Mayfield has eight quarters left in the regular season to show improvement from some of the mistakes of the last 15 games that have cost him a better year.
But to him, that's plenty of time. A late-season playoff push is exactly the kind of situation the Browns hoped to be in before the season started, after all, and Mayfield is confident he can lead them through it.
"We just have to do our job one play at a time," he said, "and just keep swinging until that clock hits zero."