Baker Mayfield bests Joe Burrow, renews Browns optimism

Baker Mayfield got the best of Joe Burrow in a battle of No. 1 overall picks.

Baker Mayfield vs. Joe Burrow, No. 1 vs. No. 1, Heisman-winner vs. Heisman Winner, Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals, the Battle of Ohio — the headlines were enormous, as was the amount of orange in the wardrobe, on Thursday Night Football.

Both quarterbacks came into this game with plenty of media buzz. Burrow was trying to redeem himself after a self-graded “D” performance in a loss to the Chargers while Mayfield was out to silence critics after a drubbing from Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.

In the end, Mayfield’s Browns got the last laugh as they grabbed a 35-30 victory over Burrow and the Bengals to move to 1-1 on the season. Cincinnati drops to 0-2.

How Baker Mayfield and the Browns carved out a key victory.

Burrow finished the night 37-of-61 for 317 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Running back Joe Mixon led the way for Cincinnati with 45 yards on 16 carries. Tyler Boyd led the Bengals with 73 yards on seven catches with one touchdown. Tight end C.J. Uzomah had a touchdown catch, as well, before leaving due to injury.

Mayfield, on the other hand, went 16-of-23 for 218 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Nick Chubb led the team in rushing with 125 yards on 22 carries and had two touchdowns. Kareem Hunt ended the game with 86 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown along with a receiving score. Odell Beckham Jr. led the Browns in receiving with 74 yards and a touchdown on four catches.

Early on in the game, the Bengals drove down the field before an Adrian Clayborn sack led to a 3-0 Bengals lead. Mayfield and the Browns responded with a touchdown by Chubb.

Burrow led the next drive before a botched snap, reminiscent of Super Bowl XLVIII, forced the Bengals to punt back to Cleveland before Mayfield hooked up with Beckham on a 43-yard touchdown for a 14-3 lead.

Uzomah then caught Burrow’s first career touchdown pass to lower the gap at 14-10 before a Mayfield pass to Hunt sent the Browns into a locker room with a 21-13 lead after Burrow’s last drive of the half resulted in a field goal.

Early in the second half, the Browns continued to pound on the run before being stuffed on the goal line. On the next series, however, Burrow was strip-sacked by Myles Garrett in a manner similar to Tom Brady from Brandon Graham, leading to a recovery on the goal line for Cleveland and an eventual touchdown by Chubb to increase the lead to 28-13.

After a series of penalty flags, Burrow led the Bengals to a field goal to close out the third quarter at 28-16.

As the fourth quarter began, Cleveland continued to rely on the ground game of Chubb and Hunt before Mayfield threw an ill-advised interception to William Jackson. Burrow drove the team down the field before cashing in on a Mike Thomas touchdown to put the score at 28-23.

Unfortunately for Burrow, his defense could not stop the nose bleed that was the Browns running game as Hunt and Chubb milked the clock before Hunt scored the clinching touchdown to make it 35-23.

Burrow drove for a Boyd touchdown that made it 35-30. The ensuing onside kick recovery by Andy Janovich preserved a Cleveland victory.

While the Bengals rookie quarterback may have put up the more impressive stat-line, it was Baker Mayfield that came away victorious. More importantly, after a strong performance in primetime, the Browns have some renewed optimism.