Browns' playoff chances take hit with 23-16 loss to Jets

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield leaves the field after an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 23-16. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Baker Mayfield coughed up the ball — and the Cleveland Browns' chances to wrap up a playoff spot.

After a 23-16 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, the Browns will need to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at home next Sunday if they're going to end the NFL's longest playoff drought.

“I failed this team,” said Mayfield, who answered one question during his postgame Zoom call and left. “I put three balls on the ground, two of them that they recovered and the other on fourth down — just hold onto the damn ball. Plain and simple. I have to hold onto the damn ball.”

On fourth-and-1 with the short-handed Browns (10-5) driving for the potential tying score, Mayfield tried to push forward for the first down but lost the ball when Tarell Basham smacked into him. Kareem Hunt recovered, but by rule, Mayfield was the only one who could advance the ball — and the quarterback was short of the first down.

The call was upheld by video review, and the Jets (2-13) got the ball with 1:18 left and sealed their second straight victory after an 0-13 start.

“This one’s on me,” Mayfield reiterated. “But here’s the thing: This one is going to sting for a day or two. But we got the Steelers to win and get in.”

It was a rough week for the Browns, who haven't been in the postseason since 2002 and entered without seven players because of COVID-19 issues — including Jarvis Landry and three other wide receivers, and rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills. Cleveland had to call up several players from the practice squad and coach Kevin Stefanski ran a walk-through in a parking lot near the team’s hotel to get some of the new players up to speed on the game plan.

“It’s pretty much 2020 — all in 24 hours,” Mayfield said. “It’s not an excuse."