Browns lose to Jets in bizarre fashion thanks to Baker Mayfield fumble
The Cleveland Browns are facing heartbreak after a bizarre loss to the New York Jets plunged their playoff hopes into further doubt.
The Browns struggled against the Jets on Sunday, but still had a chance to tie the game with a late touchdown. To do that, they had to convert on a 4th and 1 from the Jets’ 16 with 1:25 left. Cleveland let Baker Mayfield handle it on a quarterback sneak, but he fumbled shy of the first down marker. While it was recovered by Kareem Hunt beyond the marker, the fumble could not be advanced in the final two minutes. That meant the ball was spotted at the spot of the fumble — short of the marker, leading to a turnover on downs.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) December 27, 2020
There was some argument about whether this could have been called a lateral, as the ball went backwards and did not appear to hit the ground before Hunt recovered. CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore made clear that the obvious lack of intent left no doubt that it was a fumble, and said the play was called correctly.
Correct ruling at the end of #CLEvsNYJ. In order for Kareem Hunt to be able to advance the ball, Baker Mayfield would have had to purposefully pass it backwards to him. Since he didn't (he was hit & fumbled backwards) only Baker could advance the ball from the spot of the fumble. pic.twitter.com/dhNeefkYON
— Gene Steratore (@GeneSteratore) December 27, 2020
Once this was ruled a fumble, there was virtually nothing the Browns could do about it. The Jets ended up winning the game, leaving the Browns in need of a victory over Pittsburgh next week to secure a playoff spot.
This was a brutal 24 hours for the Browns, who had virtually all of their wide receivers unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol. They’ll also take issue with how the game was officiated Sunday, as a potentially huge moment was robbed from him.