CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns started the 2019 regular season with an 0-3 record at FirstEnergy Stadium, but after falling to 2-6 at the midway point of the year, the team has reversed their fortunes in front of the home fans.
In need of victories to get back into the playoff race, the Browns fought their way to three straight wins at FirstEnergy Stadium, and now, are just one game below .500 heading into this Sunday’s return match against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
“It feels good to know that we have that comfort of coming back home, having that advantage of people need to fear coming to Cleveland,” Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said after the win over the Dolphins. “Kind of like I said last year, just getting into that groove, knowing that you are comfortable at home. You have the fans to rely on. You can feel that energy and build the momentum.”
After jumping out to a 28-point lead, the Browns (5-6) fought their way to a 41-24 victory over the Dolphins (2-9) Sunday, and with the win, stayed in contention for a postseason berth in the AFC with only five games remaining in the regular season.
The Browns played one of their more complete offensive games of the season, as evidenced by the fact that they had a 300-yard passer, one 100-yard receiver and a 100-yard running back in the win over the Dolphins.
Mayfield completed 24 of his 34 attempts for 327 yards and three touchdowns against one interception, while running back Nick Chubb accounted for 106 yards and one score on 21 carries, as well as 58 yards on three receptions.
Facing his former team for the first time since a trade to the Browns in the 2018 offseason, wide receiver Jarvis Landry turned his 10 catches into 148 yards and two touchdowns, and his long-time friend, Odell Beckham Jr., added 84 yards and one score on six receptions.
All of that happened after 10 days of talk about a brawl with the Steelers on “Thursday Night Football” and the ensuing fallout, which included an indefinite suspension for Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett that was not reduced on appeal and will take an offseason meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell to end.
“I think we came together as a team,” Mayfield said. “The defense played great. A bunch of guys got some playing time who weren’t normally getting playing time and stepped up and made plays for us. Obviously, Joe (Schobert) had another great game. They just keep making plays, and that is great for this team overall.
“Overall, a win is a win. It was important for us to come out of here and get back on the field after everything.”
Heading into this week’s game against the Steelers, Mayfield knows it will take a similar mindset as the past three games, a “singular focus again” in order to even the regular-season record and remain in the hunt for a postseason berth.
“It is not about what the adversity is, it is what you do with it,” Mayfield said. “It goes throughout life. It goes throughout this season. It goes for our situation that happened last week. It is what you do with it, how you handle it and how you move forward.
“I have always said the most important play is the next one, no matter good or bad. This team is doing a good job of that and the singular focus that I keep stressing on. We keep moving forward.”