Cleveland rally for first home win to keep slim NFL hopes alive

The Sydney Morning Herald Sports 4 days ago

Cleveland snapped their four-game losing streak and won at home for the first time this season by rallying for a dramatic 19-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday (Monday AEDT).

The Browns improved their record to 3-6 this season, including 1-3 in Cleveland, to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield at the end of Cleveland's win over the Bills.

Since the NFL realigned its divisions in 2002, no 2-7 team has reached the postseason. Of the 81 teams that started 3-6 from 2002 to 2018, one earned a playoff berth, Washington winning its final seven games to claim a wild-card spot in 2012.

Trailing 16-12, the Browns began the game-winning drive at their own 18-yard line (16 metres) with 5:21 left.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield completed a 24-yard pass to Landry for a first down and the offence's longest successful pass of the game. He then capped the 10-play, 82-yard drive by throwing a seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rashard Higgins at the back of the end zone.

Rookie kicker Austin Seibert made the extra point to give the Browns a three-point advantage with 1:44 to play. The Bills' (6-3) Stephen Hauschka then missed a 53-yard field goal wide left with 17 seconds remaining, allowing the Browns to hold on for the victory.

Mayfield went 25-of-37 passing for 231 yards and a touchdown without an interception. He took two sacks and finished with a passer rating of 93.4.

Elsewhere, Green Bay running back Aaron Jones rushed for three touchdowns, combining with Jamaal Williams for 156 rushing yards as they beat the Panthers 24-16 at snowy Lambeau Field.

On its final possession, Carolina drove into scoring position with an 18-play, 88-yard drive but couldn't finish it off as the Packers improved to 8-2 on the season.

New Orleans suffered a heavy 26-9 home loss to struggling Atlanta, the Bears found some form with a 20-13 triumph over Detroit in Chicago, the Jets overcame the Giants 34-27 in the battle of New York teams and Pittsburgh continued their resurgence, 17-12 victors over the Los Angeles Rams.

McClatchy, Reuters

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