The play was drilled over and over in the preseason. Browns players knew it’d eventually see the light of day. It was a matter of when, not if.
They just never expected to run it with Baker Mayfield under center.
Cleveland’s spin on the “Philly Special” had a late twist. With Tyrod Taylor out because of a concussion, Mayfield was under center when the Browns broke it out for a two-point conversion attempt Week 3 against the Jets. In a game they once trailed 14-0, the Browns were down 14-12 after Carlos Hyde’s 1-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
It was the right time to run the play. It just required a crash course on the sidelines.
“Baker came over earlier in the game and asked what's the mechanics of this,” center JC Tretter said. “We kind of walked through the communication and what needed to be done.”
There was some understandable apprehension in the huddle, too.
“It was one of those things where when you call that play in the huddle, we all looked at each other and thought it can go one of two ways,” tight end Darren Fells said. “Either Baker's going to be wide open and it's going to be amazing or of course he's not going to be open and he gets hit.”
The only thing that hit Mayfield was the ball.
Mayfield drifted to the left side of the line of scrimmage as the snap went directly to running back Duke Johnson. Jarvis Landry came in motion and took the pitch. The southpaw wide receiver lofted a perfect pass to Mayfield, who was all alone in the corner of the end zone.
“He came in and ran it and worked to perfection,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “Ours is a little different because Jarvis is a lefty so it was cool to put our own spin on it. Jarvis and Baker making plays going the other way. It was pretty cool to see. That was Baker's coming out party.”
The Browns closed that game with similar flash, as Mayfield led a game-sealing touchdown drive to give Cleveland its first win since Christmas Eve 2016.
“When he got open and scored there, it was one of those nights where we felt everything was going pretty good for us,” Fells said. “That was the icing on the cake.”