Cleveland, Ohio – flounder, so he was right.
“This team has failed,” said Baker Mayfield on Sunday. “Plain and simple, I gotta stick to the damn ball.”
Maybe Tim Tipo wouldn’t have said damn it.
Mayfield fourth sneaked down in the last 90 seconds, when the diversion was to determine the next step toward relegation linked to the game, ending with a ball loss, a loss, a loss, a missed opportunity, the Cleveland Browns now may need to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to make the playoffs when the victory over the New York Jets may have occurred. Post-season hit card.
Mayfield continued, “I know what would have happened if we had won today.”
Mayfield and coach Kevin Stefansky reiterated that the absence of the top five recipients (let’s not forget Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury plus the COVID-19 tracker that toppled four others) and three of the top six attacking men (let’s not forget that Chris Hubbard is the top reserve plus junior Jedric Wells and White Teller were no excuses for Sunday’s 23-16 defeat.
“We had all the men we needed, and we didn’t get that done,” said Stefansky.
There is no excuse, Mayfield said.
They are, of course, wrong. All this is without a doubt a completely reasonable excuse and a clear and clear reason for the loss. Learn late on Saturday that Jarvis Landry, Richard Higgins, Donovan People Jones, and Jadaryl Hodge will come out, adding that to the need to start the seventh and eighth best offensive line in Kendall Lam and Nick Harris, blasting a hole in the attack and game plan.
“It was a little late a week to change anything wholesale, and we didn’t need to,” said Stefansky. “We made some adjustments, as anyone does in this situation, but the guys understood what we were doing.”
They just can’t do that. Mayfield was right to insist not to blame those backups, which combined six goals on 13 goals for 72 yards and would lose their names in history.
“These guys didn’t even think they were going to play,” Mayfield said. “For anyone to criticize them, shame on you. Put it on me for not doing my job, for not playing as high as I should have done and for not convincing these guys to finish this game.”
It is not about them. It’s about the midfielder, just like everything. Once Mayfield slammed into this offside, fumbling as he collided from behind on two previous bags, it wasn’t all about 28 versus 53 passes for 285 yards. It was about what to come next. It was about responsibility, frustration, opportunity, and anger.
So for Mayfield to take one question at his post-match press conference, he announces that he will answer all the questions once, says three times that there is no excuse, twice he says he failed, and after one minute and 52 seconds he clicked on the table, standing up and leaving …
I felt right.
I felt Brown was taking to the next step.
You might have felt that this was the first step toward winning.
In 2008, while at the University of Florida midfielder, Tebow entered the interview room after the match after losing 31-30 to unseeded Ole Miss. Heisman Award winner Tebow was leading the team he had expected to follow in the 2006 National Title with a season. Undefeated two years later. Instead, they lost to Team 2-2. Like Mayfield on Sunday, Tebow was stopped at the fourth offside and 1 in the final moments that clinched the loss.
Tebow was more accurate than Mayfield. He spoke for 39 seconds in 98 words, apologizing first to the Florida crowd, then pledging that he and the team would work harder than anyone else in the country. Florida never lost again, won that national title, and Urban Mayer, the Florida coach, was engraved on a plaque outside the stadium. On its 10th anniversary in 2018, ESPN and everyone else wrote a story not just about the tournament, but the speech that is now remembered as “The Promise”.
Mayfield spoke for 3 times longer than Tipo, so it wouldn’t fit a board. Depending on how the abbreviations are used when copying the quote, Mayfield was around 380 words. The type has to be very small to get everything in there. And while Tebow was promising what was going to happen next, Mayfield was more focused on understanding what happened at the moment.
But understanding that was the first step in promising what would happen next. Florida was trying to add a surname that was only two years old. Brown is trying to qualify for the first time in 18 years. There’s more built here. So before the brown could move forward, they had to take that punch.
Mayfield took it, some are worth, some not. This does not make him a hero. It just makes him a midfielder. Sunday, this is what Brown needed. There was a lot of anger while searching for a home, about testing protocols, NFL postponement rules, incomplete planes that may have been bogged down by Brown, blown coverage, and the bad luck of a team that was playing well.
ESPN might return to the story 10 years later. Maybe Brown beat the Steelers next week, taking the playoffs, taking the post-season round, and then at some point, some year, winning it all. Perhaps words won’t matter in all of this.
But sometimes, words matter. Because words may have paved the way for action.
Still … maybe not a plate. Not much “failed” for a billboard title. But she succeeded with a disappointed, quarterback, frustrated team. The end of Mayfield’s speech sums it up nicely. The last 95 words, then to the Steelers.
“This one is on me. That’s the thing, this is going to sting for a day or two, but we have the Steelers to win and get in. Yes, I am aware of what would have happened if we were going to win today. I realize it well, but it’s what it is. So I’ll have to. To deal with these punches. Their backs are against the wall, and we have to win to get in. You know, this group fought today, but I didn’t do enough and played well enough to win, and that’s it. “
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