Nick Chubb couldn’t sleep well throughout the week leading up to Sunday’s breakout performance in Baltimore.
The Browns second-year running back kept reliving his fourth-and-9 carry in the fourth quarter of the previous week’s loss to the Rams. Over and over, he thought about how disappointed he was to be tackled by safety Eric Weddle well short of the marker instead of delivering the big run Cleveland needed to upset the defending NFC Champions.
Sunday, Chubb said, would be different.
“I showed a little bit more determination. I wasn’t going to let anyone attack me,” Chubb said. “Honestly, I had nightmares last week. When I got hit on fourth-and-9 with a one-man tackle, that kind of drove me this week to not let anyone tackle me.”
The memories were hard to relive and the numbers weren’t spectacular heading into Sunday’s showdown with the Ravens, but Chubb liked what he was seeing from the Browns’ ground game. It was steady progress from a disappointing showing Week 1 against the Titans. Slowly but surely, the Browns were getting to where they wanted to be as a rushing offense.
Check out photos of the Browns against the Ravens
After posting just 34 yards at halftime, Chubb broke out in a big way, and the Browns finished with their best rushing performance since the midpoint of last season. The second-year running back accounted for 165 of the team’s 193 rushing yards and three of its four rushing touchdowns, all of which came in the second half of the Browns’ 40-25 triumph over the Ravens.
“We knew we had to get better. We had to play better. And that was just our mindset,” Chubb said. “Put our heads down and grind and work the whole week and put it all together on Sunday. And we did that, and everyone played well – offense, defense, special teams – it was a great team win.”
Cleveland finished with more rushing yards Sunday (193) than it had in the previous two weeks combined (165). A big -- OK, massive -- reason for that was Chubb’s 88-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run that immediately zapped the building energy out of M&T Bank Stadium.
It was eerily reminiscent of the 92-yarder he had in last year’s win over the Falcons. After Sunday’s run, Chubb now owns the first and third-longest runs in Browns history.
“It was a great call,” offensive guard Joel Bitonio said. “We thought we saw something earlier in the game where we got maybe 10 or 12 yards on that play a couple times. We called it, but had the false start, so we went 5 yards back. We called it again, and they had the defense we wanted. Then, Chubb hit the hole and took it to the house.
“It was an impressive run. Right when he turned the corner, I saw Earl Thomas on that path, and I thought, ‘He’s not going to catch him.’ Then, Chubb did what he does, finishing in the end zone.”
Chubb’s big day moved him up to fourth in the league with 398 rushing yards. He’s tied for second with four rushing touchdowns and enters the second quarter of the season with an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
It hasn’t always been easy, and runs like his 88-yarder can’t be expected every week, but Sunday’s performance proved the Browns have the talent and infrastructure to command a game on the ground.
“Nick will be the first one to tell you that the offensive line blocked up front. There were some creases in there, and Nick was able to get through. He did a hell of a job,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said.
“Nick’s a great football player.”