The Browns found themselves on the wrong end of an all-three-phases butt whupping on Monday night. The tone from most of the players who spoke to the media after the game reflected that reality. But the Browns also aren’t ready to shrink away from their upcoming challenges.
“Once again, we’re not hitting the panic button,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said after a 31-3 loss that dropped the Browns to 2-3. “For us, we know the problem. We know we have to be better and do better. When you play a great team, you have to eliminate mistakes. You just have to. We know exactly what we need to do. We need to play well. We need to do our job each and every play.”
The Browns have done their job every other week this season, with a loss followed by a win followed by a loss followed by a win followed by a loss.
“The inconsistency is killing us right now,” Mayfield said.
Under that formula, they’re due for a win. But the 4-1 Seahawks are coming to town in five days. And the Browns seem to be searching yet again for an identity. Are they?
“Absolutely not,” Mayfield said. “In Baltimore we did our job. Tonight, we didn’t do our job. Therefore, you play behind the sticks, and it allows a team like that to be able to tee off and do certain things. I think we found out what we need to do. We just didn’t do it tonight.”
They survived an early 14-0 onslaught from the 49ers, and Cleveland was closing in on a touchdown with the score 14-3 late in the first half. Mayfield had receiver Antonio Callaway at the goal line for what would have been a touchdown, the throw was low, Callaway batted it high, and 49ers defensive back K’Wuan Williams snatched it out of the air and took it the other way. Eventually, the 49ers led by 18.
“It was unfortunate,” Mayfield told reporters. “I put it in perspective of it could’ve been points for us, but instead it’s taken away and you’re not getting any out of that. That’s huge for momentum on the road. They already had points on the board. You look back at it and yes it’s unfortunate, but I could’ve been more accurate with the ball. Honestly, it’s more than just one play that turned the game around.”
Mayfield declined to blame the play on Callaway.
He is who he is,” Mayfield said. “Everybody makes mistakes. We had total faith in him. There’s a reason he was out there tonight even after not playing the first four games. We trust him. The biggest thing is putting our arms around him and letting him know that every once in a while that happens, but to be able to be a great team we have to eliminate that and take advantage of our opportunities. . . .When you make mistakes and beat yourself up, a team like that is going to capitalize, and they absolutely did. They deserve the credit.”
The 49ers definitely deserve plenty of credit for the win. But the Browns have plenty of questions, and not much time to answer them.