CLEVELAND — When Jarvis Landry returns home to Louisiana in the offseason, he’s going tell the football coach at Lutcher High School that he owes him some passing yards.
The five-year veteran wide receiver said he never played quarterback in his life. He was also a center fielder in baseball until he got to Lutcher, when he said he was forced to give up that sport to focus on football. That proved to be the right decision. When he signed with LSU, he was rated the No. 1 receiver prospect in the nation by MaxPreps and fourth best by Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Landry put his center fielder’s arm to good use Sunday with the play of the game — a 63-yard pass to receiver Breshad Perriman — in the second quarter of the Browns' 26-18 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield handed off to rookie receiver Antonio Callaway, who pitched to Landry, who threw a perfect strike to Perriman, covered by Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams. The play set up the Browns’ second touchdown, Mayfield's 1-yard scoring strike to tight end Darren Fells, which gave them a 13-0 lead with 7:12 left in the second quarter.
It was the fourth-longest passing play by the Browns (7-7-1) this season, surpassed only by Callaway’s 71-yard catch against the Houston Texans and two 66-yarders -- Perriman’s against the Carolina Panthers and David Njoku's in the fourth quarter Sunday.
“It feels good. I'm going to get a little ice on my shoulder right now just in case I've got to do it again,” said Landry, who finished with four catches for 47 yards.
“He better stop doing that or I'm going to lose my spot,” Mayfield said, drawing laughter. “Jeez, that was a good throw, a really good throw.”
Interim coach Gregg Williams said the Browns had been working on the play going back to training camp.
“I can’t wait for Baker to tell him he thinks he can make a better throw than that,” Williams said. “It was an unbelievable throw. Did you see the positioning Perriman had and how he gave ground to make that catch and created the space on a tight-window throw? Excellent execution.
“The only thing is I kept on thinking as soon as the play was over, I was like, ‘OK, when is the next one going to come? He's going to be knocking on my door, knocking on [offensive coordinator] Freddie [Kitchens’] door to come up [with another passing play].’ What a great athlete.”
As many reps as the Browns had, Perriman, who finished with two catches for 76 yards, was not the first option, but rather running back Duke Johnson.
"Breshad wasn't even part of the play,” Landry said. “At practice, we just kind of foresaw that the safety might get over the top of Duke. The ball was supposed to go to Duke. I just told [Perriman], ‘After you fake, just keep running.’ I saw the safety go over the top, I stepped back, I saw him and I just threw it."
As Perriman explained, “As soon as I went in motion, I saw the safety come down hard and I knew, ‘OK, this thing may be coming up here.’ Thank God Jarvis threw the perfect pass, and I caught it. He couldn’t have put it at any better place.
“We never really hit it in practice. Thank God it worked today. I was so pumped for it. I think I was more pumped just for him throwing a ball so perfect. It was crazy, it was just a crazy experience.”
It was not the only major contribution from Landry. He kept alive a 13-play, 74-yard touchdown drive on the previous series with a 6-yard reception on fourth-and-1 from the Cincinnati 15.
On that one, Landry cut outside, then inside, stumbled and fell. But he got up and managed to beat cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
Eyes on you
Mayfield avoided hugging Hue Jackson before and after the Browns defeated the Bengals 35-20 on Nov. 25 in Cincinnati, revealed in his postgame news conference he didn't feel like talking to Cleveland's former coach and then called Jackson "fake" in an Instagram post the next day.
On Sunday, the only visible interaction between the two happened late in the fourth quarter when Mayfield stared down Jackson on the Bengals' sideline after connecting with tight end Njoku for 66 yards to seal the Browns' third consecutive win. Njoku had three catches for 73 yards and a TD, a 3-yard reception with 10:20 left in the second quarter.
Asked about setting his sights on Jackson, Mayfield put on his poker face and said, "No idea what you're talking about."
Jackson's return to Cleveland didn't feature nearly as many fireworks as his reunion with the Browns in Cincinnati did. In that meeting last month, free safety Damarious Randall intercepted a pass and famously handed it to Jackson on the sideline.
Still, Mayfield made sure Jackson knew he had his eyes on him.
"Baker's a competitive dude," left guard Joel Bitonio said. "I think any team that's on that sideline he's probably going to stare down."
Fired by the Browns on Oct. 29, Jackson has gone 1-5 with the Bengals since he became a special assistant to coach Marvin Lewis on Nov. 13.
The NFL changed the Browns' season finale at Baltimore from 1 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised on CBS.
If the Ravens (9-6) prevail, they'll win the AFC North title. If they lose and the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) beat the Bengals (6-9), the Steelers will win the division crown.
The Browns hope to play spoilers and prevent the Ravens from reaching the postseason.
"That's another thing of motivation we want to use," Mayfield said.
Receiver Rashard Higgins said he used every inch of his 6-foot-1 frame to put the ball on the pylon for a 17-yard touchdown catch with 4:53 left in the third quarter that gave the Browns a 23-0 lead.
“Listen, here, man, it’s hard to get in that end zone. I’ll be damned if I let anything stop me from getting in that end zone when I got one defender to beat and it’s just that wide open,” Higgins said. “It was calling my name. I was feeling it the whole game and it happened.”
It was the fourth TD reception of the season for Higgins, who totaled two in his previous two years in Cleveland, both in 2017.
The Browns scored three TDs on their six trips into the red zone Sunday. They're 18 of 22 since Kitchens became their offensive coordinator.
• Rookie cornerback and fourth overall draft pick Denzel Ward suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter, a Browns spokesman said. Ward had missed the previous two games with a concussion.
• Kicker Greg Joseph set the Browns rookie record for field goals in a season by increasing his total to 16. He made field goals of 37 and 31 yards but missed an extra point. Zane Gonzalez had the previous rookie record with 15 field goals last season.
• Linebackers Joe Schobert and Genard Avery and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi each had a sack.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.