The New York Jets are suddenly one of the hottest teams in football, riding a blistering two-game winning streak after losing their first 13 games. Yesterday, they defeated a Cleveland Browns team that was absent any wide receiver who had ever played a snap for them before, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ closest division rival this year dropped the game 23-16.
In doing so, it eliminated them from contention for the AFC North—though the Steelers’ victory also did that—and now they need to beat Pittsburgh in the season finale just to get into the playoffs, something they haven’t done in over a decade.
Even with the issues—including a surprisingly bad running game—quarterback Baker Mayfield put the blame on himself, completing just 28 of 53 pass attempts for 285 yards. He threw zero touchdowns, and while he didn’t throw an interception, he fumbled three times, losing two, and another on fourth down.
“There’s no excuse. Plain and simple, I failed this team”, he said in his post-game press conference. “I put three balls on the ground, two of them that they recovered, and the other on the fourth down, where obviously, I just need to hold on to the damn ball. Plain and simple, I have to hold on to the damn ball. I failed this team”.
Mayfield entered the game having completed 260 of 406 pass attempts for 3082 yards with 25 touchdowns to eight interceptions—a generally solid but for the most part unremarkable year. He did have five fumbles on the season, now of course with eight.
“We had exactly what we needed to win this game, and I didn’t do good enough. That’s it”, he went on. “I’m proud of these guys for being able to step up. I mean, these guys didn’t even think they were gonna play. For anybody to criticize them, shame on you. Put it on me for not doing my job”.
Of the new faces in the game, only practice squader Ja’Marcus Bradley had much of an impact, catching five passes for 60 yards. Marvin Hall caught one 12-yard pass. Derek Willies was not targeted. Tight end Austin Hooper was the leading receiver with seven catches for 71 yards.
“This one’s on me, but here’s the thing. This one’s gonna sting for a day or two, but we have the Steelers to win and get in”, Mayfield said of his 10-5 Browns team. No matter what happens outside of their own control, Cleveland is in a position where if they win in week 17, they will get into the playoffs—as anywhere between the fifth to the seventh seed, depending on how the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins do. If one team loses, they move up a seed. If both lose, they move up two seeds. Yet if all three lose, they don’t make the postseason unless the Indianapolis Colts also lose. Even if the Dolphins and Ravens win and the Browns lose, a Colts loss would also get them into the postseason.