CLEVELAND — From passing yards and touchdowns to victories and championships, National Football League quarterbacks are judged on many levels, but those who reach the pinnacle of success at the game’s highest level have a common trait.
All of them have delivered in critical end-of-half, end-of-game and come-from-behind situations, and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is anxious to become the kind of leader that makes game-winning plays in the clutch, especially after missing an opportunity to do so in last Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh.
“We have had a few of those drives this year that we have not capitalized and a lot of that is on my part, but you have to take pride in that,” Mayfield said after Wednesday’s practice. “You have to want to have the ball last and take advantage of your opportunity. It hurts not winning that one, especially that we had the ball with about 1:50 left. Have to be better next time.”
In those late-game situations this season, Mayfield has completed only five of his 16 attempts (31.25 percent) for 76 yards with three first downs, no touchdowns and three interceptions while trailing the opponent with less than two minutes to play.
With less than four minutes remaining and the Browns trying to mount a comeback, Mayfield has completed 11 of his 27 attempts (40.74 percent) for 149 yards with seven first downs, no touchdowns and four interceptions.
That level of productivity is opposite what Mayfield was able to accomplish as a rookie in 2018, where he was 23 for 37 (62.16 percent) for 253 yards, 14 first downs and four touchdowns against one interception in games the Browns trailed with less than four minutes to play.
Mayfield was 14 of 24 (58.33 percent) for 174 yards, eight first downs, one touchdown and one interception when trailing in the final two minutes of play.
“When the bullets start flying, you are running around and some things happen, you might have…you are reading one thing, but you just have to be able to have that singular focus and focus on doing your job,” Mayfield said.
Delivering in clutch situations will be of utmost importance for Mayfield and the Browns over the final four months of the regular season.
The Browns have to regroup to face a Cincinnati Bengals team that beat the New York Jets for their first victory of the season last Sunday before going on the road in two of the final three weeks, first at Arizona on December 15, and then, at Cincinnati on December 29.
Those road trips bookend the home finale against the AFC North Division frontrunners, the Ravens, who have had more than two months to stew on the 15-point loss the Browns handed them in Baltimore in Week 4.
“It just comes down to everyone doing their job in critical moments,” Mayfield said.
“Not worrying about the score, just doing your job each and every play. It does not have to come down to critical moments. These games do not have to be close for us. If we just block everything out and do our job, we can be a great team, so we are going to have to focus on that for the rest of the games.”