CLEVELAND (AP/WJW) — Baker Mayfield threw two touchdown passes, Myles Garrett scored his first career TD and the Cleveland Browns stayed in the thick of the playoff race, surviving Baltimore’s late comeback for a 24-22 win Sunday over the Ravens, who lost superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson with an ankle injury.
Healthier than he’s been in weeks following Cleveland’s bye, Mayfield connected with Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper on first-half scores as the Browns (7-6) bounced back and beat the Ravens (8-5) after losing to them 15 days ago.
“This is the best I have felt since Week 2, so yeah,” Mayfield confirmed following the game.
Of course it helped that Jackson went out with a sprained right ankle sustained on the first play of the second quarter and didn’t return. Jackson was replaced by backup Tyler Huntley.
The Ravens lacked the offensive explosiveness Jackson provides, and Huntley spent much of the second half scrambling from trouble.
However he kept Baltimore close and the Ravens, who trailed 24-6 at half, pulled within 24-22 on Huntley’s 8-yard TD pass to Mark Andrews with 1:17 to go.
Baltimore then recovered an onside kick, but couldn’t convert on fourth-and-6 as Browns cornerback Denzel Ward tackled receiver Rashod Bateman well short of the marker.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made field goals of 50, 42 and 55 yards.
When asked if he was worried about how his team played in the second half of the game, Mayfield was very clear with reporters.
“The point is to win a football game,” Mayfield said. “If you have more points than the other team, then you have accomplished your goal.”
Later he elaborated: “We did enough to win the game so check that box off. We got conservative. I think we need to put that team away. We got ahead early. We just need to capitalize when the defense is playing like that and holding them to points. We need to put it away. That’s what good teams do, so we need to improve on that,” Mayfield said.
The Browns took a 24-3 lead late in the first half when Garrett set Cleveland’s single-season sacks record in style — scoring on the play.
With the Ravens at their own 20, Garrett got around left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and knocked the ball free from Huntley as he tried to pass. Garrett scooped it up and rumbled down the left sideline for the score.
Moments later, when Garrett, who last week wondered if his teammates were as focused as needed for the matchup with Baltimore, was shown on the giant scoreboard, the star shook his head and said, “I’m not done.”
Neither are the good-one-week-bad-the-next Browns, whose postseason chances would have been badly damaged with a loss.
“That is the goal is to make a run, but it is one week at a time,” Mayfield said. “We have to take care of business next week. We play on Saturday against the Raiders, an AFC opponent. Obviously, an extremely important game, but each one from here on out is extremely important so we have to handle it the same way.”
Stefanski concurred with that sentiment, following the game, saying: “Listen, that is the NFL, and that is certainly December football versus a good football team, a well-coached football team. Proud of the guys in going 1-0 today. Plus-one in the turnover margin.”
The Ravens could be in trouble, depending on the severity of Jackson’s injury.
Garrett broke the club sacks record he came in sharing with Reggie Camp (14, 1984). The Browns have players with higher numbers, but the league didn’t count sacks as an individual statistic until 1982.
Browns: RB Kareem Hunt hurt his left ankle while making a third-down catch in the first quarter. It was Hunt’s second game back after missing five with a calf injury. … Mayfield was checked for a concussion and cleared in the third quarter. Backup Case Keenum replaced him for one play.
Browns: Are home against Las Vegas on Dec. 18, the first of two consecutive Saturday games.