Baker Mayfield went to the locker room just before halftime of the Cleveland Browns game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday after suffering an injury to his hand, but was able to return to the field for the second half.
The Browns quarterback played the second half with a heavy glove on his throwing hand, but did not appear to be affected by the injury.
Mayfield missed on a long pass in the waning seconds of the first half and appeared to hurt his throwing hand on the play. Replay showed that Mayfield may have hit his hand into the helmet of Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree on his follow-through, but Mayfield also appeared to be shaking his hand following another pass earlier in the same possession, leading to some uncertainty of when the injury may have occurred.
As the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted on Twitter, Mayfield appeared to be in “considerable pain” after the final play before he left the game.
Mayfield was escorted to the locker room by medical staff as the half ended. He was replaced by second-year quarterback Garrett Gilbert for the final play of the half. Gilbert had only thrown four passes in a career that included a four-year absence from the NFL, and threw an incompletion on his only attempt.
Mayfield returned to the field after halftime with a heavy glove on his throwing hand. The Browns quarterback seemed to be giving encouragement to his teammates, going to each of the members of the offense before the team took the field for the second-half kickoff.
The glove remained on as Mayfield took the field for the Browns’ first drive of the second half, though it did not appear to impede his ability to throw. Mayfield connected on a series of sharp passes as the Browns moved the ball down the field on the first drive.
Baker Mayfield got injured, went to the locker room at the end of the half.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 1, 2019
Garrett Gilbert is at QB.pic.twitter.com/fE1gKwX3rb
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield heads to the locker room after hitting his thumb on the facemask of Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree in the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/pb8GkBQhUD— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) December 1, 2019
David Chao, a former team doctor for the Los Angeles Chargers who now analyzes NFL injuries on Twitter, said that Mayfield likely left for the half early to undergo X-rays, and his return means they likely came back negative.
“If there is a fracture, he wouldn’t be able to come back,” Chao said in an updated posted to Twitter, adding that it was likely just a contusion that would allow Mayfield to return and play through pain.
The game is critical for the playoff hopes of the Browns, who came into the game at the edge of the playoff picture at 5-6. With the Buffalo Bills moving to 9-3 after their Thanksgiving win over the Dallas Cowboys, the Browns are likely left to compete for the final wild-card spot. A win by the Steelers would put them two games over the Browns, meaning Cleveland would likely need to win out and get some help in order to reach the playoffs.
It was not clear if Mayfield could be in danger of missing time beyond Sunday’s game, but the team is expected to give an update on his status early in the week.