Mayfield wins AFC Player of Week award, responds to flak for Hue Jackson stare

"Football is not meant to be a soft game. Couldn't care less," Mayfield says after national media comment on staredown

BEREA, Ohio – Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has won the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award for games played Dec. 22-25 (Week 16), the NFL announced Wednesday.

In a 26-18 home win against the Bengals Sunday, Mayfield completed 27-of -37 passes for 284 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 121.9 rating.

His 73.0 completion percentage in that game led all AFC players, and his three passing TDs tied for the AFC lead for the week. Mayfield completed 15 consecutive passes at one point, tying for the third-longest stretch in team history.

He helped the Browns earn their first season sweep of the Bengals since 2002.

The clinching play came with 1:48 to play after the Bengals blocked a Browns punt deep in their own territory and converted it into a touchdown and a successful 2-point conversion to make it an 8-point game.

Mayfield responded seconds later by hitting tight end David Njoku with a short pass over the middle, and Njoku took it 66 yards to the Cincinnati 3-yard line to put the game on ice.

As the sellout crowd erupted, the CBS-TV cameras caught Mayfield trotting past the Bengals’ bench area and staring down ex-Browns coach Hue Jackson, now a defensive assistant on the Cincinnati staff.

Another season was on the verge of being wasted when Jackson was calling the shots in Cleveland. The Browns were 2-5-1, and it appeared that Mayfield was regressing when Jackson was fired Oct. 29 on the day after the team was humiliated 33-18 by the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Mayfield, 23, has taken some flak by national TV analysts for his stare down, but he did not back off Wednesday when the team returned to practice for the season finale against the Ravens in Baltimore.

“I do not get why people have a problem with football being a competitive sport,” Mayfield said. “You are supposed to play with emotion. You are supposed to play with passion.

“Quite honestly, if you do not like it, whatever. Football is not meant to be a soft game. Couldn’t care less.”

Mayfield’s 24 passing TDs this season are the third-most in NFL history by a rookie.

He has thrown at least one TD pass in each of his 12 starts, trailing only St. Louis’ Kurt Warner (23 from 1999-2000) and Minnesota’s Brad Johnson (15 from 1996-97) for the most consecutive starts with a TD pass to begin an NFL career.

The first overall pick in the 2018 draft, Mayfield has previously been named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for November. In addition to being a finalist this week, he has been voted the NFL Rookie of the Week five times. 

This is the Browns’ first Offensive Player of the Week award since QB Josh McCown won in Week 5 in 2015.

Rookie Denzel Ward (Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 5) also earned a weekly award from the league this season.

[Some information for this story was obtained from a Cleveland Browns news release]