Baker Mayfield has a great appreciation for his offensive linemen, and that includes one member of the Browns' line Mayfield literally met moments before kickoff. Mayfield, who threw three touchdown passes to help lead the Browns to a 48-37 wild-card playoff win in Pittsburgh, was asked how he was able to have success behind a patched-up offensive line. In the midst of answering NBC Sports' Michele Tafoya's question, Mayfield revealed that he met one of his linemen just moments prior to kickoff.
"We had Michael Dunn step in at left guard for Joel Bitonio," Mayfield said. "And then, Michael got hurt and a guy named Blake [Hance], that I introduced myself to literally in the locker room before the game, stepped up in the fourth quarter."
Hence, a former undrafted rookie, was signed by the Browns on January 2. He was inactive for Cleveland's 24-22 win over Pittsburgh in Week 17 before making his NFL debut during Sunday night's win over the Steelers. Dunn, who entered the game with the Browns ahead 42-29 with 9:47 left, was on the field for the Browns' last two scoring drives, as Cleveland managed to hold off Pittsburgh's furious comeback bid.
Cleveland's offensive line had its way against Pittsburgh's talented defensive front. All told, the Browns piled up 127 rushing yards and 263 yards passing. They also did not give up a sack against a Steelers pass rush that has led the league in sacks each of the last four seasons.
The Browns' first playoff win in 26 years is certainly one for the history book. Cleveland's point tally was the most against a Pittsburgh team since the Browns beat Pittsburgh 51-0 in 1989. Cleveland's 28 first-quarter points on Sunday night is a new NFL playoff record. The win is Cleveland's first playoff victory over Pittsburgh after falling to the Steelers in the 1994 and 2002 postseasons.
Cleveland's win came without Bitonio, defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Denzel Ward and head coach Keven Stefanski, who watched Sunday night's game from the comfort of his basement. And while Vernon's injury will keep him sidelined for the season, Bitonio, Ward and Stefanski are expected to be in Kansas City for the Browns' divisional round matchup against the defending Super Bowl champions.