INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Just two days after being claimed off waivers, Baker Mayfield made his Los Angeles Rams debut.
And after being brought off the bench to replace starter John Wolford, the former No. 1 overall pick overcame some early struggles to script a finish fitting for Hollywood.
Trailing 16-10 with 1:45 remaining in the game, Mayfield and the Rams offense took over at their own two-yard line following a 64-yard punt by Raiders punter AJ Cole. Yet despite Los Angeles being out of timeouts, the former Heisman Trophy winner engineered an eight-play, 98-yard drive, which he capped with a game-winning 23-yard touchdown pass to Van Jefferson with 10 seconds remaining on the clock, breaking a six-game losing streak for the 4-9 Rams.
Mayfield's game-winning drive came just three days after he was released by the Carolina Panthers, who had demoted him to third-string. But while the 27-year-old spent the first 13 weeks of the season with the Panthers, he'll forever be associated with the Cleveland Browns, who selected him with the top pick in the 2018 draft.
So much so that as Mayfield celebrated his game-winning touchdown pass on the Rams sideline on Thursday night, Amazon play-by-play announcer Al Michaels speculated about how Browns fans might be feeling at the moment.
"Some Browns fans are saying right now 'come home, come home, come back,'" Michaels said.
As for Cleveland, the Browns are moving forward with Deshaun Watson, who is set to make his second start for the team vs. the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday after serving an 11-game suspension to open the season. Last July, Cleveland traded Mayfield to Carolina for a conditional fifth-round pick after acquiring Watson in a blockbuster trade with the Houston Texans.
In another twist worthy of a Hollywood writing credit, the Browns faced Mayfield and the Panthers in their 2022 season opener. Cleveland -- which now lays claim to a 5-7 record -- won the game 26-24 thanks to a 58-yard field goal by rookie kicker Cade York.