In a game that was billed by some as “The Baker Bowl”, Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield could not out-duel his replacement, Jacoby Brissett, at Cleveland as the Panthers fell to the Browns by a 26-24 count.
Mayfield, the former Cleveland quarterback, was discarded after the franchise successfully recruited Deshaun Watson as his replacement.
A 58-yard field goal, kicked with eight seconds showing on the clock, decided the two-point victory for the Browns. But that was just part of the saga with the Panthers and the Browns. .
Mayfield, selected No. 1 overall by the Browns in 2018, started for the Panthers because Cleveland, despite some early success with Mayfield, determined that he could not lead the way to a championship. The quarterback the Browns feel can do that, Watson, was not present because he will not be eligible to play until December as he serves an 11-game suspension for violating the N.F.L.’s personal conduct policy, after more than two dozen-plus women accused him of harassment or assault during massage appointments.
The Panthers, who seem to have a new quarterback every season, traded for Mayfield just weeks before training camp began.
Early on, Mayfield’s play only seemed to validate the Browns’ decision to send him packing. The offense did not past their own 40-yard line on any of the team’s first three possessions. On Carolina’s fourth drive, Mayfield threw an interception, setting up the Browns’ first score.
With the Panthers trailing by 20-7 in the third quarter, Baker was sacked on consecutive plays by Myles Garrett, the former teammate with whom he had clashed during their four seasons together and verbally sparred with the week prior to the game.
That seemed to wake Mayfield up and before you knew it, Carolina was back in the game. First, he scored on his own on a seven-yard run. Mayfield followed that up with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Robbie Anderson that narrowed the Browns’ lead to 2 points.
Just after the two-minute warning, Mayfield marched Carolina downfield for a 34-yard field goal that gave the Panthers their first lead of the game.
But in the end, Baker did not get his revenge as Cleveland hit on the long game-winning field goal. Like I said earlier, Mayfield was just average. He finished with 235 yards on 16 of 27 passing, with two total touchdowns.
Mayfield downplayed the setback while noting that the NFL is a long season. The Panthers need a fast start to stem off rumors of a coaching change. And because history has told us that things can spiral downwards fast when things do not go well with Baker.