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Mayfield era begins as Cleveland get elusive win vs. Jets

Sports Xchange
21 Sep 2018, 13:54 GMT+10

It was the matchup everyone wanted to see -- Sam Darnold vs. Baker Mayfield, the future of football in New York and Cleveland. And it didn't disappoint.

Bud Lights for everyone in Cleveland. Don't expect the party to end anytime soon.

Mayfield made his NFL debut in relief of an injured Tyrod Taylor and led the Browns to a 21-17 win, their first since Christmas Eve 2016. The top pick of the 2018 draft, despite not throwing a touchdown pass, out-dueled the No. 3 pick, leading Cleveland (1-1-1) to scores on four of his five drives.

At 11:34 ET, the Bud Light beer fridges located in bars all around downtown Cleveland unlocked and long-suffering Browns fans, waiting 634 days for this, finally got some victory suds.

Running back Carlos Hyde, celebrating his 28th birthday and with a child expected at any moment, scored two touchdowns, including the winning score from a yard out with 2:04 left.

Despite being handed a 14-0 head start, Darnold played his worst game as a pro. On the Jets' penultimate drive, Jermaine Kearse made an excellent catch for 12 yards to convert a fourth-and-10. But on the next play, Darnold was picked off over the middle by Browns linebacker Joe Schobert, his fourth pick in three games.

The Jets (1-2) will now lick their wounds before heading to Jacksonville in 10 days after playing their first three games in 11 days.

Mayfield, the 23-year-old rookie out of Oklahoma, excited the capacity crowd, who booed Taylor lustily and chanted for Baker in the first half.

Mayfield led the Browns on a 15-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Hyde's second touchdown, to give the Browns their only lead of the night. His 29-yard laser to Jarvis Landry -- the longest play for either team -- set up Hyde's first TD run with 42 seconds left in the third quarter. The Browns got to retry the two-point conversion after offsetting penalties and converted on a "Philly Philly"-type play on which the lefty Landry threw a pass to a wide-open Mayfield.

In a twist, one of the guys around for much of Cleveland's losing did the most to nearly keep the Browns out of the win column. Isaiah Crowell, who spent this first four years with them before coming to the Jets in the offseason, scored the first two touchdowns of the game to give New York a 14-0 lead.

After Kevin Pierre-Louis blocked a punt to give the Jets the ball on the Browns' 28-yard line, Crowell waltzed in from 7 yards out to make it 7-0 on the first play of the second quarter. The key play on the drive was Darnold's 16-yard pass to Quincy Enunwa on third-and-11.

Following a three-and-out, the Jets had their longest drive of the night, going 63 yards on 10 plays, capped by Crowell's 2-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with 7:54 left in the second quarter. Darnold again covered a third down with a 16-yard connection with Enunwa.

On the ensuing drive, Avery Williamson sacked Taylor on third-and-12 and Taylor's head slammed on the ground. He was put in the concussion protocol, and then, just like that, the Mayfield Era began in Cleveland.

Following a three-and-out, Mayfield completed his first two passes (to Landry and David Njoku) for 31 yards, eclipsing Taylor's passing output on the six previous drives. The drive ended with new Browns kicker Greg Joseph hitting a 45-yard field goal to make it 14-3 with 27 seconds left in the half.

Robby Anderson was stripped by the fourth-pick in this year's draft, Browns corner Denzel Ward, giving Mayfield and the Browns the ball on the Jets' 8-yard line, but the Browns couldn't move it even a yard. Joseph made another field goal to make it 14-6 with 5:24 left in the third quarter.

NOTES: Jets LB Williamson combined with DL Steve McLendon on a first-quarter sack. It was Williamson's first sack of any kind with New York after spending the first four years of his career with the Titans (with whom he had 11.5 sacks). He had a full sack in the second quarter. ... Jets LB Pierre-Louis blocked a punt in the first quarter to set up the Jets' first touchdown. The fifth-year player had never blocked a kick, and it was the first blocked punt for the Jets since Antonio Allen in 2013. ... Jets RB Crowell (after his second touchdown, pretending to wipe his behind with the ball) and CB Trumaine Johnson (on the ensuing drive, trying to hand an incomplete pass to Jarvis Landry) were each given unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Later in the drive, Johnson was flagged for hitting Taylor in the head on a slide after a first-down run. ... Jets OLB Jordan Jenkins had a strip-sack on Baker Mayfield's third-ever play, but the Browns recovered. ... Jets LG James Carpenter was flagged for a false start for the second straight week. TE Eric Tomlinson also had a false start on the same drive. ... Jets WR Anderson was checked on the sideline after his third-quarter fumble, his second lost fumble in his last two games. He appeared to be bleeding from his nose.

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