Aaron Rodgers is the likely MVP of the National Football League, and Patrick Mahomes the most exciting, but of all the quarterbacks in the NFL in the almost-completed 2020 season one of the most interesting is Baker Mayfield.
The Cleveland Browns have been awful for a long time, and until this season were the butt of jokes that always ended with “…when the Browns win the Super Bowl.” But now, with Mayfield behind center, long-suffering fans in Cuyahoga County have a lot to cheer for. The Brownies may not be Super Bowl-bound this season, but they came darn close.
They lost 22-17 to the defending NFL champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in an AFC Division contest, but came within one play of advancing to the conference title game.
The key play came when Rashard Higgins caught a pass from Mayfield and raced toward the goal line. He dived toward the end zone, extending his arms with the ball, trying to break the proverbial “plane.” But KC safety Daniel Sorenson came in and delivered what – to us – seemed like an illegal hit, slamming his helmet into Higgins’ headgear. The ball came lose and rolled out of bounds in the end zone for a touchback. Ball goes over to the Chiefs.
We won’t say it was a bad call by the official to not throw a flag, just a missed one.
But a penalty here would have given the Browns the ball first and goal on KC 1-yard line. It would have remained for Mayfield to dive for those 36 inches, and, essentially, win the game.
Baker could have done it. He’s come through for the Browns all season long. He completed 23 of 37 passes for 204 yards against a tough Chiefs’ defense for one touchdown and one interception. Considering the competition, that’s a fair outing.
During the regular season, he passed for 3,563 yards and 26 scores. He’s also a pretty good runner, too, averaging 10.1 yards per carry. He’s even caught a couple of passes.
Like the team he quarterbacks, he’s a work in progress.
“It was frustrating, but that is the way these things work,” said Mayfield after the game. “It sucks when you come up short, but you get the taste of it and realize you learned lessons. For now it’s definitely going to sting. We had an especially special group here. We will be back.”
And so will Baker, and maybe even on a bigger stage.
RAMS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Don’t feel bad about the Los Angeles Rams’ 32-18 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Frankly, the Pack is the better team. But the loss revived an old L.A. tradition: a quarterback controversy.
“Yeah, he’s the quarterback,” said Coach Sean McVay of Jared Goff after the defeat. “For now.”
Well, that was kind of snarky. Goff was, well, not bad against Green Bay. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 174 yards with one TD and no interceptions. He was sacked four times, however, leading to one of the common criticisms of Jared. Namely, he holds the ball too long and isn’t very mobile.
Is Jared a championship quarterback? Not yet. But if you know one’s who’s available, call the Rams’ front office. Operators, apparently, are standing by.
Sports Monday is written by Pete Zarustica. He also likes Mayfield’s TV commercials.