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Nick Chubb's return to the end zone sends Browns to win over Texans

Cleveland battles the elements and prevails with hard-nosed win over Houston

Seven long quarters filled with everything the Cleveland weather machine could throw at FirstEnergy Stadium came and went without a Browns touchdown.

Nick Chubb, back from a four-game absence, made sure it didn't reach eight Sunday, and that's all the Browns would need to get their second half of the season started the right way.

Chubb's 9-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter broke the tension on another low-scoring, weather-affected afternoon by the lake. His long-awaited return to the end zone gave Cleveland the necessary cushion to put away the Texans, 10-7, and reward a defense that answered the bell all game.

"I have not played in a while, and it felt like I had not played in a while," Chubb said. "I just had to knock the rust off and keep trusting myself and keep trusting in the line and that it would pay off in the end."

The win moved the Browns to 6-3 on the season. The loss dropped Houston to 2-7.

"They did not blink. They were unfazed," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "I told them in the locker room, this is 2020, but you should not expect anything less. I am sure something else is coming – weather-related or whatever is may be – but our guys understand they are just going to control the things they can control ultimately and really just focus on playing good football."

Chubb, who last saw the field Week 4 in Dallas, resumed his normal workload and led the Browns with 126 yards on 19 carries. Kareem Hunt, who filled in admirably as the Browns' top running back while Chubb was sidelined, got tougher to tackle as the game unfolded and finished with 104 yards.

Chubb put an exclamation point on the victory when he took a third-and-3 carry with less than a minute to play 59 yards down the sidelines. He scooted out of bounds at the 2-yard line to ensure the Browns could end the game with two kneel downs.

"The play by Nick there at the end is indicative of the type of person and player he is," Stefanski said. "We told him, 'Hey, get the first and game is over. Go down.' We have a code word for that, and he said, 'Yes sir,' ripped down the sideline there and just did his job.

"We are looking for smart, tough dudes, and Nick Chubb is that." 

Chubb and Hunt became the first the first Browns teammates to each rush for 100 yards in the same game since Leroy Kelly (113) and Ernie Green (103) on Oct. 8, 1966.

"Watching them boys run up the field like that, that is something you seen once or twice, a couple of times in training camp, and thought, 'That ain't going to happen in the game," DT Sheldon Richardson said. "[I] hope it happen in the game, but more so they have been carrying the team, for real."

Check out photos of the Texans against the Browns

Baker Mayfield completed 12-of-20 passes for 132 yards. His biggest throw of the day came on third-and-18 late in the third quarter, when he found Rashard Higgins for a 21-yard to extend the drive that would ultimately end with Chubb's touchdown run.

"It was way worse than the Raiders game to be quite honest with you, just the random gusts of winds," Mayfield said. "There was a lull in the game there, but it would just pick up out of nowhere. When it gets in, it just swirls in circles through the stadium and you don't know which way it is really blowing. We were affected by a couple of passes with the wind, but we dealt with it, and a win is a win.

"We dealt with the circumstances and came out with a win, and that is the most important part."

Deshaun Watson brought the Texans within striking distance when he threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to former Browns TE Pharaoh Brown with 4:59 to play. He finished 20-of-30 with 163 yards through the air —his fewest in a game since Week 4 of 2019 — to go along with 36 rushing yards.

For the second straight game, the Browns battled more than the team on the opposing sideline, as a severe thunderstorm with heavy rains and hail delayed Sunday's start by 35 minutes. While the rain and lightning subsided, the high winds never left, making downfield throws and field goal attempts an adventure.

"I think it was a totally different game. It really was," Stefanski said. "In that game a couple of weeks ago, we did not have many possessions. I thought our defense did a really nice job today and forcing some punts. They battled.

"We always talk about how do we win this game. We are not worried about the game before or the game coming after this. What is this game? You often times have variables that are evolving, and the weather was a variable today and it might be a variable next week."

The Browns maintained a 3-0 late in the third quarter when they stopped the Texans on third down and watched Kai'mi Fairbairn sail a 46-yard field goal attempt wide left. That was the jolt of energy Cleveland's offense — which hadn't scored since the first possession of the game — needed, as the Browns responded with a nine-play, 64-yard drive that ended with Chubb finding the end zone for the fifth time this season.

The Browns scored the only points of the first half with a 41-yard Cody Parkey field goal on their opening drive. It was a disappointing conclusion to the possession, though, as an intentional grounding penalty on third down prevented any hopes of finding the end zone.

Cleveland's defense stonewalled the Texans on their most promising drive of the first half, as Myles Garrett dropped Watson for a loss on a fourth-and-goal rush attempt from Cleveland's 2-yard line early in the second quarter.

Earlier in the game, Garrett collected a half-sack, giving him an NFL-best 9.5 on the season. The Browns are 6-1 in games when Garrett picks up a sack.

The Browns are back in action at FirstEnergy Stadium next week when they host the Philadelphia Eagles. It's early, but rain and wind are once again in the forecast.

"I am very proud of our team just overall with dealing with the circumstances," Mayfield said. "Defense playing lights out. Offense, we can be better, but we did what it took to win. Special teams for (K) Cody (Parkey) to make all his kicks in this wind, that is pretty special. It is a great team win, but we are not done yet."

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