Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield thought officials should have thrown a flag on Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas when he threw his fourth interception of Saturday’s game, but no penalty was called and the Browns will be heading back to Cleveland with a loss.
Douglas made a lot of contact with Browns wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones before picking off Mayfield’s pass with just under a minute left to play and the Browns trailing 24-22. Mayfield, Peoples-Jones, and Browns fans around the country pleaded for a flag, but the officials played Grinch to their hopes and the Packers were able to hold onto a win that moves them closer to the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
Douglas also appeared to be guilty of illegal contact on a deep shot to Peoples-Jones in the first quarter that Darnell Savage picked off to set up the first of three Aaron Rodgers touchdown passes. That touchdown set a new Packers record for career touchdown passes and the next two scores also came after Mayfield interceptions as the Packers built a 21-12 halftime lead.
Mayfield could only blame himself for those picks and for a near-pick that Eric Stokes dropped shortly before Mayfield found Anthony Schwartz in the end zone to bring the Browns within two points. The Cleveland defense then forced the Packers’ third punt of the fourth quarter to set up a painful end for the Browns.
They are now 7-8 with games in Pittsburgh and at home against the Bengals still on the schedule. They’ll need to win out and get help in order to get back to the playoffs for a second straight season.
Mayfield was 21-of-36 for 22 yards and two touchdowns to go with the four interceptions. Whatever the feelings about the non-calls on Douglas, who had two of the picks, some in Cleveland will wonder why they didn’t roll with the ground game more on Saturday. Nick Chubb ran 17 times for 126 yards and D'Ernest Johnson had four carries for 58 yards against a Packers defense that has struggled to stop the run in recent weeks.
The Packers will need to shore that up and they’ll need to be stronger in the fourth quarter. They gave up 13 points to the Ravens in the fourth quarter this weekend and picked up just 23 yards on their first three fourth quarter drives this week to allow the Browns to claw their way back into the game.
They’ll try to improve on those fronts at home against the Vikings next weekend before finishing up the regular season in Detroit. Should things break their way, they’ll be able to rest some players with the No. 1 seed already in their pocket.