“It will be a dog fight,” Williams said.
In the end it was a dog fight, but the result isn’t what the Browns hoped.
Cleveland could not hold up their end of the bargain and spoil Baltimore’s AFC North championship party at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Browns rallied from a 17-7 second quarter deficit to keep the game in doubt until the final minutes.
Mayfield threw for 376 yards and three touchdown pass. The number one overall pick is now the record holder for touchdown passes by a rookie with 27.
“It is pretty special considering some of the rookies who have come in and played,” Mayfield said of the record. “There are a lot of guys around me who helped me do it.”
In the battle of Heisman Trophy winners, Mayfield was out-dueled by Jackson.
Jackson threw for 179 yards in addition to rushing for 90-yards and two touchdowns. The Browns needed to make Jackson a one dimensional quarterback on Sunday. Clearly that did not happen.
“Until you are on the field and see how quick Lamar Jackson is, then you understand his ability to make plays,” Williams said.
Opportunities were there for the Browns to steal a victory to end the 2018 season. The defense recovered a Jackson fumble at the goal line. Jabrill Peppers attempted to return it 99-yards for a touchdown. However the officials blew the play dead because the call on the field was touchdown. Replay overturned the call to a fumble recovered by the defense, but no advance of the football is possible. The quick whistle may have cost the Browns a win.
“Wish it would have gone different at the end of the half on the defensive touchdown but it is what it is,” Williams said. “We made a real nice play down there on the goal line and (Peppers) scooped it up. He was going the other direction but they blew it dead. At least we got the ball back.”
Cleveland had one last chance in the final minutes. After having incomplete pass to Breshad Perriman and Jarvis Landry overturned to catches via replay it came down to a 4th down play. Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosely tips and intercepts Mayfield’s pass to secure the AFC North title.
It’s the first AFC North championship for the Ravens since 2012. The Ravens end a four year playoff drought.
The Browns were not able to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2007. Cleveland finished 2018 at 7-8-1. It does mark the best record for the Browns since 2010 and their first winning record in the AFC North since 2002.
“This team is a no give up team,” Williams said. “You saw all the energy and all the drive and all the continued supporting each other. Respect and trust are earned. Close game and congrats to them.”