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Mayfield leads Browns

CINCINNATI — Baker Mayfield brushed aside all the outside noise about his dismal performance last week. Then, nursing sore ribs, he shut up all the critics.

“What criticism? What are you talking about?” Mayfield quipped after throwing five touchdown passes and leading the Browns past the Cincinnati Bengals 37-34 on Sunday.

The quarterback actually overcame a terrible start against the Bengals. He went 0 for 5, including an interception on his first attempt of the game. Mayfield then completed the next 22 of 23 passes. The last was most important, a leaping grab by Donovan Peoples-Jones in the end zone with 15 seconds left to win it for the Browns (5-2).

“He’s such a competitor,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He doesn’t give up. That first throw, we wanted to take a shot there, and they made a nice play. He didn’t back down, and every time I looked at him on the sideline he had that steely look in his eyes.”

Mayfield, roundly slammed after a poor performance in Cleveland’s loss to Pittsburgh last week, engineered the win without injured running back Nick Chubb, tight end Austin Hooper and receiver Odell Beckham, who left Sunday’s game early with a knee injury and didn’t return.

Cincinnati rookie Joe Burrow turned in another terrific game, but again it wasn’t enough. He hit 35 of 47 passes for a season-high 406 yards and three touchdowns, including a 3-yard scoring pass to Giovani Bernard on fourth-and-1 to give the Bengals a 34-31 lead with 1:06 left.

But the Bengals’ defense couldn’t stop Mayfield, and Browns receivers who made some great catches as they worked down the field. On the first play of the drive Mayfield slipped out of a near sack to complete a 13-yard pass to Peoples-Jones.

“We got on the field and everyone was saying, ‘We’ve got to get to the 30 for a field goal,’ and I told the guys, ‘Screw that, we’re going to win it,'” Mayfield said.

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