The Browns season ended on a losing note but there is a ton of optimism to feel good about heading into the offseason.
Cleveland finishes with a 7-8-1 record, their best since 2014 (7-9) and the seven game turnaround after going 0-16 last season is the biggest turnaround in franchise history.
Baltimore clinched the AFC North with the win, their first division title since 2012 and their first playoff appearance since 2014.
In a battle of the rookie quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson had a memorable duel that a majority of the football world got to witness.
Mayfield threw 3 touchdown passes to set the single-season rookie record with 27 touchdowns but his three interceptions including the final one with 1:06 left halted the Browns chances to have a winning record for the first time since 2007.
The first overall pick also threw for 376 yards against the top ranked Ravens defense and set the Browns franchise rookie record with 3,725 passing yards which was previously held by Brandon Weeden (3,385 in 2012).
Jackson led the Ravens rushing attack that ran for 296 yards against the Browns defense. The 32nd overall pick and former Heisman winner had both of Baltimore’s touchdowns which came on the ground and had 90 yards on the ground as well as 179 yards through the air.
Kenneth Dixon led the way for Baltimore with 117 rushing yards and rookie Gus Edwards added 76 yards and they went “ground and pound” for a majority of the game which has worked since Jackson took over as the starter, winning 6 out of 7 games.
The running game for Cleveland stalled out and Nick Chubb only had 24 yards on nine carries and finished just four yards shy of 1,000 yards for the season despite going over the milestone twice during the game.
The passing attack was effective despite three interceptions.
- Jarvis Landry: 5 catches for 102 yards, 1 TD
- Antonio Callaway: 4 catches for 79 yards, 1 TD
- Breshad Perriman: 3 catches for 45 yards, 1 TD
- Rashard Higgins: 4 catches for 86 yards
- David Njoku: 3 catches for 62 yards
Greg Joseph missed a field goal which looking at the score would’ve won the game for the Browns but it was at the end of the half and who knows how the game would’ve ended up with the score being 20-10 at halftime instead of 20-7.
He had a solid season as an undrafted rookie going 17 of 20 on field goal attempts. A lot of people are hard on him and expecting kickers to be perfect but these are probably the same people who would’ve tried to get Phil Dawson out of town in 1999 if Twitter was around.
The referees once again played a role in a Browns game and I’m not one to say they’re trying to screw the Browns because I see mistakes they make across the entire NFL.
Lamar Jackson tried to get the ball across the plane to score another touchdown. He tucked it back and was stripped by Larry Ogunjobi and should’ve been a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Jabrill Peppers but the officials blew the play dead because they thought it was a touchdown.
After review, they determined it was a fumble but it cost the Browns a touchdown because of the blown whistle. It didn’t help that Jarvis Landry dropped what would’ve been a wide open 93-yard touchdown but it is what it is.
The Browns now head into the offseason with a lot of momentum, over $86 million in cap space, franchise cornerstones on both sides of the ball including a franchise quarterback and a general manager who will continue to add talent to an already talented roster.
Just need to find a head coach if it’s not already in the building.