Baker Mayfield made it clear before the start of the season: He wasn't putting any extra pressure on himself because the mindset that got him to this point in his career hadn't changed.
"There is no need for that because if I win, good things will happen and good things will happen for our team and the guys around me," Mayfield said. "That is the most important part. That is why quarterback is one of the positions that is the hardest in sports. If I play better, our team is going to do better. I put that pressure on myself. It does not matter what year it is. I have to play better each year."
That's exactly what Mayfield did in 2020, his best season yet in the NFL.
Under his fourth different head coach and third different offensive system, Mayfield thrived in 2020. Perhaps the most encouraging development was how he developed over the course of the season, as he overcame a bumpy stretch during the first part of the year to emerge as one of the league's most efficient signal-callers over the final eight games.
After throwing an interception on his first pass in a Week 7 matchup with the Bengals, Mayfield threw just one more pick for the rest of the regular season. During that stretch, he tossed 16 touchdowns and had four games in which he posted a quarterback rating of 116 or better. He was electric in the Browns' first playoff victory since 1994, completing 21-of-34 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns, and made a number of big throws in the team's season-ending loss to the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs.
It was a big step forward for Mayfield, who made countless big plays to lead the Browns to their best results in a generation.
But which play was his best? Nathan Zegura and Andrew Gribble make their picks below:
Gribble: Week 7 at Bengals - Game-winning TD pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones
This was the culmination of a revelatory performance from Mayfield. When he tossed an interception on the first offensive play of the game, it was his fifth pick in the last three games and everything appeared to be trending in the wrong direction when it came to the Browns passing attack, especially after Odell Beckham Jr. was lost to injury. And then, when the second quarter began, something changed. Mayfield couldn't miss, as he set a franchise record with 21 straight completions to keep the Browns within striking distance against Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow, who was putting together the best game of his rookie season. Cleveland got the ball with 1:06 to play needing a field goal to tie the score, but Mayfield wanted more. He drove the Browns right down the field and threw one of the best passes of his career to complete the comeback. His throw to Peoples-Jones, who caught the first pass of his NFL career earlier in the game, was an absolute dime and placed in the only spot Cincinnati's defenders couldn't get it. This performance set the tone for Mayfield's dynamite second half to the year and, more importantly, gave the Browns a win they absolutely had to have at a pivotal point in the season.
Zegura: Wild Card Round at Steelers – 40-yard TD pass to Jarvis Landry
In a year with many memorable Mayfield moments, his 40-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry on the team's opening possession of Super Wild Card Weekend was not just a great play, it was an emphatic declaration of his progress to the elite echelon of NFL quarterbacks. In the Browns' Week 6 matchup with the Steelers — also at Heinz Field — Mayfield attempted a slant against the Steelers Cover 1 Robber defense. He did not see the "robber," Minkah Fitzpatrick, on that particular play and Fitzpatrick jumped the route, intercepted the ball and took it all the way for the dreaded pick-six. Fast forward back to the playoffs, and the Browns were facing a critical third-and-four at the Steelers 40-yard line. The Steelers were once again running a Cover 1 Robber defense, this time with Fitzpatrick showing a blitz before dropping back into the hole to try to pick off any inward breaking routes. Mayfield recognized it immediately and knew once Landry sold the speed out and crossed the face of the corner, on a great route, that he would have to deliver the ball quickly and up high, over Fitzpatrick where only Landry could get it. He did just that, beating the coverage that hurt him earlier in the season, and Landry did the rest in what was an iconic touchdown that catapulted the Browns to a 14-0 lead over the Steelers in a critical playoff game they would go on to win, 48-37.