Baker Mayfield has gone toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes twice before Sunday's playoff bout. The most famous meeting between the two first-round picks was back in college when Mayfield's Oklahoma Sooners outgunned Mahomes' Texas Teach Red Raiders, 66-59.
In that score-crazed game, Mayfield completed 27 of 36 passes for 545 yards, 7 TDs and 0 INTs, with 15.1 yards per pass. Mahomes, meanwhile, completed 52 of a whopping 88 passes for 734 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT, and added 85 rush yards and two scamper scores.
"We had to score every single drive in the second half to win that game," Mayfield recalled this week, via the team's official website. "It was an unbelievable game and unbelievable atmosphere. Just the back and forth is something that I will not forget."
The two quarterbacks played once before at the pro level, in Week 9, 2018, Mahomes' first year as a starter and Mayfield's rookie campaign. The Chiefs bested the Browns that day, 37-21. Though not as prolific as the college matchup, the numbers were still gaudy. Mahomes earned 357 passing yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT, while Mayfield had 297 yards passing with 2 TDs and 1 INT.
"He has gotten me so far in the league, so I have to see what I can do," Mayfield said. "It's always been fun to keep up with Pat."
In Sunday's rubber match, Mayfield knows he won't be the one to try to slow Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs' weapons. As always with facing K.C., there is pressure to keep pace, which the Browns QB knows well.
"I would say it's about everybody being on the same page and just doing their job, and that makes everybody's job easier," Mayfield said. "Don't try and do too much. You stick within the plan, do the little details right and stay efficient. The guys up front and the skill guys around me have made my job extremely easy."
While he won't be the one having to defend the reigning Super Bowl MVP, Mayfield has respect for what Mahomes can do on a football field.
"His arm strength is unbelievable," Mayfield said. "Just the different arm angles and things he is able to do -- I know people talk about his no-look passes and all of that -- but to be able to change his arm angle, you can see why he was such an incredible athlete in baseball and basketball, as well. He's just able to do things that a lot of quarterbacks can't do."
While much of the discussion about how the Browns must pound the rock and keep Mahomes on the sideline to knock off the No. 1 seed Chiefs this weekend, the truth of the matter is Cleveland needs to outshoot K.C. to win.
In nine career losses as a starter, including playoffs, Mahomes' teams have averaged 31.3 points per game. Only once in those tilts have the Chiefs been held below 24 points and thrice have they been under 30.
Having the best running back tandem in the NFL is an excellent foundation for Cleveland, but in the end, Sunday's matchup will come down to how well Mayfield plays and whether he can help the Browns keep pace with Mahomes' offense.