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Press Conference

Baker Mayfield: 'We believe in the people in this room no matter what's going on'

QB Baker Mayfield:

On the Browns' resiliency to get a win tonight after facing adversity throughout the week:

"It means a lot for our guys to step up. We lost a few guys. Obviously, missing (G) Joel (Bitonio) sucks, but (G) Michael Dunn stepped up in a huge way – in a huge way. (T) Jack (Conklin) goes down, and (T) Kendall Lamb steps up in a huge way. Michael ends up going down and (G) Blake (Hance), who I just met tonight, ends up stepping up in a huge way. The resilience and the next man up mentality that we have been talking about the whole season and for some of these guys who were not even here while we were talking about it, that just permeates through the whole team. For us to come out like that, the defense to play like that and for us to play complementary football and us get a great start, it just means so much."

On the Browns' confidence throughout the week despite facing adversity and him posting on his Instagram earlier today 'Browns is the Browns' in reference to Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster's comments earlier in the week:

"It wasn't about that, specifically, but yeah, it is the same quote. We believe in the people in this room no matter what's going on. As soon as the COVID news came out that we were missing some key guys, obviously starting with our head coach, we knew that everybody was counting us out. We knew what mentality we were going to have, and it is just to cut it loose, go out there and give it everything we have. There was no added pressure or no extra anything. It was just for us to go out and do our job because no one believed in us, besides us."

On Head Coach Kevin Stefanski's leadership and what he took on as a leader this week in Stefanski's absence:

"Kevin still conducted our team meetings throughout the week and even led the team meeting on Saturday night. As much as we have been on Zoom calls and not been in person, it was pretty normal for a very non-normal year. It just came down to us doing our job. That is what I kept telling myself all week sis if I do my job, don't put any added pressure, take care of the ball, do the things that we have been talking about the whole all year and put us in position to have success, the rest would take care of itself."

On the feeling in the locker room after the game and the Browns facing the Chiefs next week in the AFC Divisional Round:

"The postgame locker room, we had a bunch of guys on FaceTime on. (Pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O'Shea had Kevin Stefanski. I think (S Andrew) Sendejo had (pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach) Jeff Howard on. I am trying to think of who had (DE) Olivier (Vernon) on FaceTime. This is a team. Whether we are in person or not, we have gone through everything – everybody in the league has gone through the Zoom calls and everything – no matter if we are in person or not, we know the men who we have in this building, we are a team, we stick together and that meant a lot. To have those guys there in our celebration was great. The best thing about it was the mentality of everybody saying, 'Hey, we did not just want to just win this game.' Like I said last week, it is just the stepping stone to where we eventually want to go. For a lot of guys, it was a huge win – my first playoff win, for starters – but nobody here is satisfied yet.

On the key to stopping Pittsburgh's comeback attempt:

"Just to do our job. We did not have to do anything special. Take a deep breath, one play at a time, keep scoring and keep putting points on the board, whether it was touchdowns or field goals, and make them play catch-up. Obviously, like I said, our defense did such a great job early on to put the pressure on them that our job was easy."

On how exciting the start of the game was:

"To defer to the second half and then to get seven points on the board without even having to step foot on the field is great. That kick starts it, and everybody on the sideline was like, 'Let's just keep this lead. Let's keep it going. Let's just go out and do our job.' Being up 28-0 in the first quarter is obviously an incredible start. You just have to capitalize. At that point, it is tricky whether you play not to lose or you continue to play aggressive, and we did an OK job. We kind of stalled out for a little while there, but picked it back up in the second half."

On how RB Kareem Hunt ran tonight and Hunt seeming to 'run like a man possessed':

"Kareem ran pissed off. He ran like he wanted to get to Kansas City."

On his message to Browns fans about the new standard in Cleveland:

"It is exactly that. We are here for a reason. There is a new standard, and I keep talking about it. I know I was not here for the things that have happened in the past, some of which I was too young to even remember. There is a new standard, and we are going to try and keep it that way."

On the timing of the call for RB Nick Chubb's TD on the screen pass, as well as WR Jarvis Landry's 40-yard TD in the first quarter:

"Unbelievable. AVP (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) was talking about calling a screen on a second down and long in particular, and it just aligned like that. Obviously, got the ball in Nick's hands and he does the rest. He had some key blocks for him to be able to do that. We scored on two very critical third downs early in the game. Obviously, Jarvis' first and then the run play with Kareem. That is huge. Third downs, not only to convert but to turn them into touchdowns and big plays and that, that is big for us.

On facing the Chiefs next week and everyone likely counting the Browns out again when playing the defending Super Bowl champions:

"Sounds pretty normal to me."

On celebrating with DE Myles Garrett on the field after the game:

"A great feeling. Surreal. The things that we have been talking about and the guys and the new pieces that were brought in here, I told people we were all brought in here for a reason and you are starting to see that. That is why I continue to talk about the new standard and turning this thing into a winning culture."

On winning the turnover battle by a plus-five margin and not having a turnover:

"The things that you emphasize during the week wind up coming true. If you emphasize it, you are going to do it. We have talked about ball security, taking care of the ball and us taking the ball away on defense. A little insight, Kevin said on Saturday night that he envisioned a tipped ball that somebody was going to pick off, and (DE) Porter Gustin was the one to catch that tipped interception. It is just the things you emphasize wind up coming true because if you put your importance on it and you focus on that, it happens."

DE Myles Garrett:

On his emotions after tonight's win:

"It is a hell of a feeling with the history in this building that has been that the Browns do not win, especially when (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) is here. We are just trying to change the culture and change the trajectory of our team and what people think about us."

On saying that the team has to 'prove that they are not the same Browns' and if it was a rallying cry for the team after Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster's 'Browns is the Browns' comment:

"Any talk like that is going to be disrespectful to anybody on any team. We definitely did not appreciate it. I think we made that known tonight with our performance. We just have to carry on with this momentum we have getting this big win in their house. I think we have what it takes to keep it going."

On the Browns being counted out tonight and likely being counted out again next week against the Chiefs:

"We have been the underdogs since the beginning of the season. Nobody thought that we would have a winning record. Nobody thought that we were going to get to the playoffs. Nobody thought that we were going to do anything in the playoffs. We just have to keep on proving people wrong. That is what it is all about. Don't hold yourself to other people's standards. We know what we are trying to live up to, and we are going to keep on getting after it until we can."

On the Browns confidence throughout the week and the team saying it was going to take it to the Steelers and succeeding with it:

"We took it to them. They were going to get our very best shot. A lot of people were talking about you have your head coach out, you have this person out and that person out. They already made their picks. They had a pick, and there was not a chance that we were going to walk out there and lay down. We were able to pounce on them early and hold onto the lead. We got a lot of takeaways on defense. That has really been the story of our season of getting those takeaways and being able to hold on to those leads. Those boys got them. Props to them for battling for four quarters. Ben had a hell of a performance. What? 500 (passing) yards? It was a good game."

On the loose snap on the first Steelers offensive play and the Browns recovering it for a TD to start the game:

"Sudden change, you just got to be ready. He snapped it over his head, and it was almost like he watched it roll. I was getting ready to tackle him, and they never jumped on it. I had fallen on it late, and the oblong shape of the football, it kind of squirted out on me. It ended up still being a big play. I am so glad it did not end up costing us. That was a hell of a momentum swing for us from the very jump, and we just took it from there."

On the source of the mutual belief between QB Baker Mayfield and him:

"We have seen what each other can do. He has seen me in practice getting out there. He has seen me in games getting out there at the quarterbacks. He knows very well that he would much rather have me on his team rushing other quarterbacks and stopping the run than being against him. It is a real pleasure to play on the same team as him. He has been rolling. He has really caught his stride. I can't wait to see what he can do at this time next week – or at least a bit earlier."

On keeping the right mindset amidst the adversity the team faced this week:

"We are professionals. We just have to believe that the other guys are doing what they need to do and hold yourself accountable to the work you need to take care of before the game so that you can be prepared to go out there and put your best foot forward. That is what we do. I have full belief in him (Mayfield). He is going to get his guys right. I am going to check on my guys and make sure there is no drop off and there is no 'woe is me' and there is no feeling bad for yourself. You go out there and you still have to play. They can sell us short and they can pick the Steelers until the cows come home, but they still got to play. At the end of the day, any given Sunday and anything can happen."

On the team's performance, including key contributions from CB M.J. Stewart and LB Sione Takitaki with other defensive players out:

"They do this. These guys have been making plays. They have shown they can make the plays at any moment, and that was just the name of the game. Getting takeaways and capitalizing off of them to where it was just too much of a deficit for them to come back. That just has to be the tale of the tape for the rest of the playoffs."

On what this game says about who are the Cleveland Browns:

"We are the Cleveland Browns – the same old Cleveland Browns."

On the most challenging part of the playoff week, given the adversity the team faced:

"The uncertainty. Getting guys back. Getting in the building. How we were going to prepare. Where things were going to fit well or flow well from not being able to see it. Not being able to practice at full speed really. Not being able to go over everything. It is just believing in your guys and that chemistry. Obviously, it shows that we play well together and we have the right pieces for this puzzle to make things work. Guys were where they needed to be to get the job done. Especially five takeaways, that is a hell of an achievement, especially in a playoff game against these guys."

RB Kareem Hunt:

On his performance tonight, 'running like a man possessed' and if he played with a sense of urgency tonight:

"It was win or go home now. I am going to do everything I can to help this team win. I am always going to leave it all out there. I love the game of football. With every opportunity I get, I am going to try and make something happen with it."

On if there was part of him that had a sense of wanting to return to play in Kansas City next week:

"There is not much to be said about that. We are just taking this one game at a time. That is the ultimate goal. Now, they are the next man in the way."

On the effectiveness of the Browns throwing to the RBs in the second half:

"Honestly, I just like whatever I can to get an opportunity. We have a lot of playmakers so I want to make the most of each and every play every time I get a touch."

On what tonight's playoff win meant to him as a Cleveland native:

"It means a lot. It shows that we are making progress here. I believe we are going to be a real good football team for a long time. Being from the City of Cleveland, it is huge. Honestly, I could not be any happier. Growing up as a kid on the East Side, being able to help this team win and being a part of something great and changing the culture means a lot to me."

On Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster's comments this week about the 'Browns is the Browns,' how much that was a motivating factor tonight and his thoughts on the comment after the game:

"I want you to go ask him the same question. We do not really have to talk about it. You can ask him the same question. What does he think now? Juju is a heck of a player, but it is a new team here. We are going to bring it every time."

On the Browns' mentality in the second half and staying aggressive on offense:

"We know that is a good offense. We knew they were going to give it everything they had in the second half. At that point if they did not make up some points, they were going home. We knew everything was going to be coming at us. They did a good job trying to stay in the ball game, but we did a good job of putting them away."

On offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt's play calling tonight:

"He did great. He did a real great job. I am happy to have him around."

On growing up as a Browns fan as a Cleveland native and how this win impacts him:

"Most definitely. I always want to see the Browns win. I am a home-team type of guy. I want to see the Cavs win, the Indians win and the Cleveland Browns win. This is my city so I want to see everybody from Cleveland win."

On his mentality when rushing hard at the goal line tonight:

"I was one on one. Well I don't know about one on one, but there were a couple of people there. I trust my strength and my leg drive. I am going to find a way to put that ball in the end zone. Sometimes carries don't come through so I have to make the most of it. I wasn't going to get denied. I know we needed seven points, and with a team like that, you can't come away with field goals."

On Stefanski's postgame message:

"He actually spoke to (RB) Nick (Chubb) and I and he told us how proud he is. He is a great coach and most definitely helped set the foundation here. He was just talking to Nick and I about how happy and proud he is and that we did a great job."

On the team's postgame celebration in the locker room:

"It just seems like we love the feeling. We want to keep it rolling. It does not get any better than celebrating with the guys after the game. We want to keep it going."

On return to Kansas City next week to play the Chiefs and if he remains in touch with several of his former teammates:

"I definitely keep in touch with some of those guys. That is where I started. They did a lot for me, and I have a lot of people on that team. They look out for me and care for me as a person, and I care for them, too. I probably won't talk to too many of those guys, but there will be maybe one or two that I will call and chop it up with. Other than that, sorry, but we are enemies this week, fellas."

On if he feels like has something to prove against the Chiefs next week:

"I don't say too much about that. I am just going to let my game do the talking."

On if he is surprised by Browns fans setting off fireworks after the win:

"No. We have to keep winning. I am ready to have some more of the great feelings after the game."

RB Nick Chubb:

On his TD on the screen play:

"It was a great call. They blitzed into it and the linebacker to the side was on (QB) Baker (Mayfield). It was great execution by us. All of the linemen were up for the blocking. We just made the play."

On if staying aggressive in the second half was a point of emphasis following halftime:

"Yeah, for sure. That team over there, a great team. We knew they were not going to quit. Two weeks ago, they had a comeback win. We know they are a great team and they were going to fight until the end so we had to keep fighting."

On if the Browns discussed the Steelers comeback in the second half against the Colts prior to tonight's game:

"Not necessarily. We did not talk about it, but we knew we had to do it from the beginning. There was nothing to talk about. We knew we had to put up a lot of points because that is a great team over there."

On if he noticed a difference with offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt calling plays:

"No, I didn't. He did a great job filling in for (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski. I didn't notice a difference at all."

On the locker celebration after the game and if there is still a feeling that the team is not done yet:

"For sure. It is back to work. We are not going to celebrate this win too much longer. We are happy we won, but it is time to get back to work and focus on our next opponent."

On why the Browns and Van Pelt decided to pass to the RBs more in the second half:

"I don't know. You would have to ask him, but it worked for us."

On how this moment feels and it being one of the biggest moments of his NFL career:

"I am excited, but this is just the first round. We have a long way to go. We are not going to celebrate too long."

On if he is surprised Browns fans are shooting off fireworks in Cleveland after the win:

"I am not surprised at all. They deserve it."

On if Browns players had a chance to talk to Stefanski on FaceTime after the game during the locker room celebration:

"He was on FaceTime, but it was loud so we couldn't hear what he was saying. We all saw him and we all waved to him."

On if Stefanski said anything to the team after the game via FaceTime about frustrations with not being able to celebrate with the team tonight:

"We couldn't hear anything. The music was too loud. Everybody was pretty excited."

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