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CLEVELAND — No awkward hug. No cold handshake. No holiday greeting.
Baker Mayfield’s only interaction with former coach Hue Jackson was an icy stare.
Mayfield threw three touchdown passes to thrill a sellout, holiday-spirited crowd that came out to boo Jackson, and rookie Nick Chubb ran for 112 yard as the Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-18 on Sunday to sweep their southern Ohio neighbors for the first time since 2002.
“Quite honestly, I couldn’t care about what happened in the past,” Mayfield said. “It is about this year and we won. We are moving forward.”
The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft continued his stellar rookie season, one that took off after Jackson was fired by the Browns on Oct. 29. Mayfield has 24 TD passes, third most by an NFL rookie and two shy of the record shared by Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson.
With their fifth win in six games, the Browns (7-7-1) are 5-2 under interim coach Gregg Williams, who has gone from long shot to legitimate candidate to become Cleveland’s next coach. It’s the second time since 2007 that the Browns have won at least seven games.
The Bengals (6-9), on the other hand, are disintegrating under coach Marvin Lewis. They lost for the sixth time in seven games and are assured of finishing last in the AFC North, a spot the Browns have occupied since 2011. Lewis spent little time discussing what went wrong in a news conference of barely a minute.
Cincinnati made it interesting late in the fourth as former 49ers draft pick Jeff Driskel threw two TD passes.
However, Mayfield connected with tight end David Njoku for 66 yards just before the two-minute warning and the Browns ran out the clock.
After the long completion, Mayfield jogged past Jackson on the sideline and stared at his former coach, whom he called “fake” after their matchup last month in Cincinnati.
Mayfield playfully denied he was showing up Jackson.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said.
Told that the exchange was blowing up on social media, Mayfield said, “That’s all right. We won.”
Tom Withers is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Stare-down-Mayfield-throws-3-TD-passes-Browns-13487966.php.