Game Day

Nick Chubb's selfless act caps his big return to Browns offense

Pro Bowl RB runs for 126 yards in his first game since Week 4

Nick Chubb knew what to do, but that didn't make it any easier.

Chubb eyed the end zone Sunday as he raced down the sidelines late in the action of Cleveland's 10-7 win over the Texans. The margin would have been bigger if Chubb finished his run the way he usually does, but he opted instead to scoot out of bounds at the 1-yard line and settle for a ho-hum 59-yard gain.

"That is the natural instinct to get into the end zone," Chubb said. "Something came in my head and said, 'let's go out of bounds.' I should have just taken a knee or slid to keep the clock running, but it was a split [second] decision.

"I think if I hadn't gotten one earlier, I would have scored, but it worked out."

Chubb's decision ensured the Browns could end the game with two kneel downs and put themselves on the right side of a second straight weather-affected game at FirstEnergy Stadium. Runs like Chubb's at the end — along with the bruising carries he delivered throughout the game — were among the numerous elements missing one game earlier, when the Browns battled similar weather issues and lost to the Raiders.

"The play by Nick there at the end is indicative of the type of person and player he is," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "We told him, 'Hey, get the first and the 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."

The Browns' running game simply hadn't looked the same without Chubb, who missed four games because of a knee injury he suffered Week 4 against the Cowboys. The Browns averaged better than 200 rushing yards per game in their first four games but labored to just 95.5 over the next four with Kareem Hunt taking almost all of the carries.

On Sunday, the Browns finished with 231 as Chubb (126) and Hunt (104) became the first Browns tandem to each clear 100 yards in the same game since Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green did it against the Steelers on Oct. 8, 1966.

"I think they do inspire each other," Stefanski said. "I think they push each other. Kareem got dinged there for a second so Nick went in, and then Kareem was ready so Kareem went back in and Nick just came out. Those two guys do their job. They do it obviously at a high level, but they are all about the team, and I appreciate that." 

With 126 yards, Chubb cleared the century mark for the third time in five games and gave him 461 on the season. Hunt's 104 yards were his most-ever as a Browns player, and he leads the team with 633.

"I was definitely feeding off Kareem the whole game," Chubb said. "He was out there making great plays and making hard tough runs, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He definitely provided me energy throughout this game." 

Even though the yards didn't come easy early in the action Sunday, it became clearer and clearer the Browns had a different look to them on the ground compared to the previous four weeks.

Chubb took the first two carries of the game, going 2 and 9 yards, respectively, to get the Browns moving on a drive that would end with a field goal. The Texans made big and consistent gains difficult over the next two quarters, but they couldn't keep Chubb and Hunt down in the fourth.

Chubb carried the ball on the final four plays of the Browns' scoring drive early in the fourth quarter, rushing for 11 yards on back-to-back carries, 4 yards on the next and then capping off the drive with a 9-yard touchdown — his fifth of the season.

Hunt added 31 yards on the next Browns' possession, which ended with a punt but took more than 4 minutes off the clock.

Following a Texans touchdown, the Browns sealed the game with a nine-play, 94-drive in which Hunt and Chubb combined for 96 yards.

"I think when you are able to have that one-two punch of those guys being able to have somewhat fresh legs coming in late in the game, you could tell that some of these runs that were going for 2-3 yards were starting to pop for longer," QB Baker Mayfield said. "It really does wear those teams down, which is why we are blessed to have those guys in our backfield."

None of those runs popped more than Chubb's last one of the game, a play that will be remembered most for what he didn't do rather than what he did.

"I would not have been mad at him," Stefanski said, "but knowing Nick, when you tell him to do something, he is going to do it."

Check out photos of players getting ready to face the Houston Texans

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