Cleveland 21, New York Jets 17.
That was pretty much the most entertaining Thursday Night Football game in the history of #TNF. Or that I know of. I don’t know; I don’t typically watch Thursday Night Football, but damn if I’m not a fan of the NFL all of a sudden.
Thanks to Baker Mayfield.
Down 14-0 and having lost their quarterback to a possible concussion, Mayfield came into the game and immediately injected energy into FirstEnergy Stadium. He also led them to a FG to cut into the Jets lead before the half, 14-3.
And then we got the word that Tyrod Taylor was out for the game. Baker would start the second half.
Truth be told, I was a bit apprehensive about that prospect as an Oklahoma Sooners fan suddenly devoted to all-things Cleveland Browns. Bob Wylie’s offensive line had played like trash in the first half, forgive the frankness.
Baker might get killed out there.
But he didn’t. Mayfield’s passes were quickly released, crisp, and he didn’t even really have to stretch the field. Soon-to-be new daddy Carlos Hyde took advantage of the Browns’ success through the air, racking up 98 yards on 23 carries and two scores.
Mayfield caught his first score before he threw for his first, a 2-point conversion reminiscent of Oklahoma’s play against Georgia in last year’s Rose Bowl.
The Philly Special? Naw. This is the Oklahoma Special.
But then Baker Mayfield led the Cleveland Browns on a 15-play, 75-yard game-winning drive that ate up 6:52 off the fourth-quarter clock. It’s a drive the likes of which we saw in Norman, Oklahoma, time after time after time.
Baker was clutch, effective and efficient, finishing the night with a quarterback rating over 100. And to his credit, Mayfield is not an all-heart sort of leader. His accuracy is uncanny. His release is quick. And his teammates would knock over a brick wall for him.
However, that’s not the thing that makes him a winner, and his recipe for success is centuries old.
Credit other people. You’ll regularly hear Baker take the focus off himself and praise his teammates and coaches.
Be situationally aware. It’s clear Mayfield was ready to play tonight despite the insanity of the Cleveland coaching staff giving him no reps during the practice week.
Be competitive. I don’t know that competitiveness has to be the polar opposite of contentment, which is a fine state unto itself, but I’d suggest that a nagging hunger to achieve or win is pretty much a standard characteristic of winners.
Exude positive energy, in public and in private. Brush off your shoulders and don’t let nothin’ affect you.
Will all that mean Baker leads the Browns to the Super Bowl, win Rookie of the Year and never lose again? Of course not.
Tap the brakes.
Not even Mayfield is perfect. We’ve seen the video from Fayetteville, Arkansas. That guy ain’t out-running an NFL defensive end.
But those of us Oklahoma Sooners fans also saw Baker admit his mistake, apologize, move on and not repeat it. Knock on wood. That’s part of the formula as well, to be able to overcome adversity.
Anyway, I guess what I’m saying to Browns fans or anybody who will eventually get sick of an Oklahoma fan telling you that Baker Reagan Mayfield is a winner, it’s not about his Heisman Trophy or the big wins at Oklahoma (a-plenty) or the two trips to the college football playoffs.
It’s not because of the results that people say he’s a winner.
It’s because of the way he takes care of business and how he executes.
And the super sweet thing is that the winner part of this formula is something anybody can do with enough practice.