EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.: Baker Mayfield led two 95-yard touchdown drives and the Cleveland Browns moved closer to ending their 17-year playoff drought with a 20-6 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night.
Mayfield was sharp all night, helping the Browns (10-4) bounce back from a 47-42 loss to Baltimore last Monday night. The Cleveland quarterback has been terrific lately, and it was more of the same in this one as he finished 27 of 32 for 297 yards with scoring passes to Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper.
Nick Chubb had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put it out of reach for the sluggish Giants and made the Browns the first team this season to have two 95-yard TD drives in a game.
The win got the Browns closer to clinching their first playoff spot since 2002, the NFLs longest drought. They also matched their highest win total (10-6 in 2007) since their 1999 expansion rebirth.
Cleveland also dealt a serious blow to the the playoff hopes of the Giants (5-9), who were without injured quarterback Daniel Jones. Colt McCoy, who started 21 games for the Browns from 2010-13, couldn’t get much going against his former team.
Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens, fired after last season as Cleveland’s head coach, ran the offense with coordinator Jason Garrett out after testing positive for the
. New York was aggressive early but put up just six points against a defense that gave up 80 points in the past two games.
McCoy was 19 of 31 for 221 yards for the Giants, who are tied with Dallas a game behind Washington for first place in the NFC East.
New York’s opening drive stalled at the 8 after McCoy’s throw to Evan Engram fell incomplete in the end zone. The Giants brought out the field goal unit, but quickly shifted into a fake with holder Riley Dixon throwing high and incomplete to center Nick Gates, turning over the ball on downs.
It could’ve worked, too: Kicker Graham Gano was wide open in the end zone.
The Browns also went for it on fourth down on their first drive, but also couldn’t get on the scoreboard. On fourth-and-2 from the Giants 43, Mayfield’s pass was batted down at the line by Dexter Lawrence.
New York opted against any trickery on fourth down on its next possession as Gano kicked a 37-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Browns came right back with a scoring drive capped by Mayfield’s 2-yard pass to a wide-open Hooper in the back of the end zone early in the second quarter.
New York had a chance to cut into the lead, went on fourth-and-1 from the 5, and Wayne Gallman was stuffed for no gain. Cleveland took full advantage, with Mayfield leading the Browns on the first 95-yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard pass to a leaping Landry with 21 seconds left in the half.
Landry flashed a 1 and 3 in the back of the end zone to pay homage to his close friend and teammate Odell Beckham Jr., the former Giants wide receiver who sustained a season-ending knee injury earlier this year with Cleveland. Landry, who then jawed with cornerback Isaac Yiadom, was called for taunting. That pushed the Browns back 15 yards on the extra point and Cody Parkey hit the right upright as Cleveland went into the locker room up 13-3.
The Browns put this one away on Chubb’s 1-yard TD with 12:53 left. Chubb had a 6-yard TD run wiped out by a clipping call on Jack Conklin, but got back into the end zone and this one counted – a few plays later to cap Cleveland’s second 95-yard TD drive.
Browns: RG Chris Hubbard hurt a knee on Cleveland’s second offensive play after he started in place of the injured Wyatt Teller. He didn’t return. … DT Sheldon Richardson also didn’t come back after he injured his neck in the third quarter.
Giants: Top cornerback James Bradberry was out after he had a close contact with an individual who tested positive for the
, and was placed on the
list on Thursday.
Browns: return to the Meadowlands next Sunday to face the 1-13 New York Jets, who got their first win by beating the Los Angeles Rams.
Giants: at Baltimore next Sunday to take on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
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