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The View Beyond Pluto: The 5-2 Browns Look Ahead with a Revived QB and a Sidelined Star Receiver

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The Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday to move to 5-2 on the season for the first time since 1994. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto talks about quarterback Baker Mayfield's progress, Odell Beckham, Jr.'s injury, and what's ahead for the team.

5-2 is 5-2

Pluto says that instead of 5-2, Browns fans are used to the team being 2-5.

"I've been getting these emails saying, 'They've only beaten one team with a winning record.' Part of going from the same old Browns is to start beating teams with losing records. That's how you get there," Pluto said.

The Browns' two losses on the season have been to the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and the reigning divisional champs, the Baltimore Ravens, both blowouts.

"Meanwhile, they've beaten everyone else, and they keep scoring 30 points or more a game on these other teams."

The two sides of Baker Mayfield

Pluto said quarterback Mayfield looked shaky at the start of the Bengals game, much like he did during the second half of their victory over the Indianapolis Colts, and against the Steelers a week later.

Mayfield started the Cincinnati game 0-for-5 in the first quarter, with his first pass intercepted for the second time in two weeks. Mayfield was playing with a broken rib, but Pluto said he wondered if he was having an issue with his confidence.

"They go into halftime and the game is close. Now it's the second half, [so] let's see what happens. And here comes Baker Mayfield from 2018," Pluto said.

For the rest of the game, he was nearly perfect with 21 straight completions before spiking the ball to stop the clock and finishing another throw for the game winning touchdown with 11 seconds left.

Baker without Odell

Early in the game, Beckham tore his ACL and is out for the season. Mayfield seemed to play better without him.

"After Odell went out, it seemed to me Baker Mayfield just went back and whoever was open, he threw the ball to them. He wasn't thinking, 'I have to get the ball to number thirteen,'" Pluto said.

Pluto said Mayfield also got to throw passes to his favorite receiver, Rashard Higgins. "After practice [in 2018] Baker and Rashard Higgins would go out and practice their passing and catching."

What's next?

With the Las Vegas Raiders coming to town, the Browns have a chance to go into the bye week at 6-2. Last year, the team went into their bye week at 2-6.

"The Browns may not be more talented minus Odell Beckham, but maybe they're going to be a better offense minus Odell Beckham. We're going to find out the next few games," Pluto said.

Copyright 2021 WKSU. To see more, visit WKSU.

Sean Fitzgerald is a senior journalism major at Kent State University working as a 2020 summer news intern. Sean has been with Black Squirrel Radio, Kent State's student-run radio station since the spring of 2018 as a sports show host and co-host, a web article contributor and sports department coordinator. Sean hopes to pursue a career in sports journalism once he finishes school.