Baker Mayfield outplayed Cam Newton, Jarvis Landry caught a touchdown pass and ran for another score and the Cleveland Browns damaged Carolina’s playoff hopes with a 26-20 win Sunday over the Panthers, who dropped their fifth straight.

Mayfield bravely threw a 51-yard TD pass into traffic to Landry, who had a 3-yard scoring run and added a long run — on a similar call — early in the fourth quarter to set up a go-ahead touchdown.

Playing the spoiler role down the stretch, the Browns (5-7-1) improved to 3-2 under interim coach Gregg Williams, who needed just five games to match former Browns coach Hue Jackson’s win total over two-plus seasons.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

The Panthers (6-7) suffered a loss that could haunt them for months and will increase the heat on coach Ron Rivera.

Newton passed for 265 yards, but overthrew Jarius Wright on 4th-and-goal at the 3 with 2:35 left. Carolina got the ball back, but Newton, who has been playing with a sore right shoulder, badly missed Devin Funchess and was intercepted by Damarious Randall with 57 seconds left.

Before taking a knee on the final two plays, Mayfield revved up Cleveland’s crowd, who counted down the final seconds.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield looks to throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield looks to throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Mayfield finished 18 of 22 for 238 yards, continuing his bounce back after throwing three interceptions in the first half last week at Houston.

Carolina came in just a half-game out of the second wild-card spot in the NFC, but with only three games left, including two against New Orleans, the Panthers are going to need help to make the postseason.

Christian McCaffrey had two TD runs for Carolina and finished with 101 total yards.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Browns rookie Nick Chubb scored on a 1-yard run to give the Browns a 23-20 lead with 13:05 left. The score came one play after Landry took an inside handoff and weaved his way down field. Greg Joseph clanged the extra point off the left upright, keeping the Panthers within three.

Newton drove the Panthers to the 3 before throwing two straight incompletions, ending Carolina’s best chance to take the lead.

Mayfield’s 51-yard TD pass to Landry tied it 14-all with 8:27 left in the second quarter.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry rushes for a three-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry rushes for a three-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Rolling left out of the pocket to buy some time, Mayfield stepped up and confidently delivered a perfect strike to Landry, who was well covered on the play by safety Eric Reid, his former LSU teammate. As fans celebrated, Landry and several teammates sat down in the end zone’s corner and pretended to warm themselves around a camp fire.

Mayfield and Newton were both hot in the first half. Mayfield completed 8 of 10 passes for 176 yards and a TD while Newton was 15 of 20 for 185.

Newton drove the Panthers to a touchdown on their first possession with McCaffrey scoring on a 4-yard run.

Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore, right, reaches but can't catch the pass under pressure from Cleveland Browns defensive back T. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore, right, reaches but can’t catch the pass under pressure from Cleveland Browns defensive back T. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Rivera took over defensive play calling from coordinator Eric Washington this week, and Mayfield wasted no time challenging the Panthers.

On Cleveland’s first play, Mayfield unloaded a pass that traveled more than 60 yards in the air to wide receiver Breshad Perriman for a 66-yard pickup. Two plays later, Landry scored.

NEWTON’S LAW

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry celebrates after scoring a 51-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry celebrates after scoring a 51-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

With his first completion, Newton eclipsed 3,000 yards passing for the eighth straight season. He came in needing 1 yard to reach the plateau and surpassed it on a 25-yarder to Curtis Samuel on Carolina’s second snap.

Newton joined Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks in history to reach 3,000 yards in each of their first eight seasons.

ROOKIE RECORD

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Mayfield joined Kurt Warner (1999) and Brad Johnson (1996-97) as the only players since 1966 to throw at least one TD pass in each of their first 10 career starts.

INJURIES:

Panthers: No significant injuries.

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) catches a pass under pressure from Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis (58) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) catches a pass under pressure from Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis (58) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Browns: C JC Tretter barely made it off the field in the third quarter before dropping to his knees. Tretter, who has played several weeks with a severely sprained right ankle, returned to the game.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Host New Orleans on Sunday.

Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) in the end zone during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) in the end zone during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Browns: At Denver on Saturday.

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Source: The Associated Press

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