Nick Chubb maintained his normal stare forward from the Browns backfield as the fans around him at FirstEnergy Stadium chanted his last name in unison.
Chubb, back in his normal workhorse duty with the Browns after missing last week due to contracting COVID-19, was finishing another game in which he rushed for over 100 yards, looked impossible to slow down in open space and was going to do all necessary to power the Browns to a much-needed win over the Lions under rainy conditions in Cleveland.
The fans were making it clear that his work wasn't being taken for granted midway through the fourth quarter. As "Chubb! Chubb! Chubb!" echoed around him, he felt the love but maintained his focus on his next carry — he wasn't losing that focus until the Browns' 13-10 win was sealed.
But Chubb certainly felt the respect in the moment.
"It definitely feels good," Chubb said. "I felt great, and it felt great to be back out there with the team and get things rolling again."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Lions in Week 11
Chubb finished with 130 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown, which actually came on a 5-yard catch on a pass from QB Baker Mayfield. Chubb eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a game for the 21st time in his career and the fourth time this season, and the Browns needed every one of them to keep their offense afloat under the wet conditions that called for heavy work from the run game.
No one on the Browns, though, doubted that Chubb was ready for it. Not after he showed up to his first practice in over a week Friday with a smile and urge to do damage to a defense after missing his third game of the season in Week 10.
On Sunday, the damage was done, and the chants followed.
"Everybody was chanting Chubb's name," DE Myles Garrett said when asked if he joined the fans' show of appreciation. "I was definitely cheering for my guy."
The "Chubb" chants were loud, but the loudest moments came at other points in the fourth quarter when the Browns gave Chubb the ball on third down.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski did it three times. Chubb pushed his way forward for an 11-yard gain on third-and-2 with just over 7 minutes left as the Browns attempted to hang onto their three-point lead. By the time he was back in the huddle, the chants had begun.
The ball was in his hands again in important moments on the Browns' next offensive possession. This time, it was third-and-3 with two minutes left, and he plowed his way forward for another 11-yard carry. He broke off a 15-yard gain, his biggest of the afternoon, on the next run and then rushed for another first down three plays later on third-and-2 to seal the win.
"It was a good way to finish the game," G Joel Bitonio said. "It's trusting Nick. We ran the ball pretty well on that drive. He had faith, and we converted it."
Chubb's biggest contribution to the score happened in the second quarter, when he caught a quick pass from Mayfield and finished an easy 5-yard sprint to the end zone. The touchdown was the first Chubb had caught rather than rushed since the Browns' Wild Card win over the Steelers last season, and it's the first time he's caught a receiving touchdown in the regular season since Week 11 as a rookie in 2018.
Chubb was ready to handle whatever role the Browns needed him for despite practicing just once in the last week. He admitted that he did feel a tad unconditioned as a result of the unexpected break, but no rust or lack of stamina was evident when the ball was with him.
"I wasn't as in shape as I wanted to be, but I felt good enough to finish the game, and there was never a situation where I felt I couldn't go," he said. "Overall, I felt pretty good."
The Browns are feeling good, too, now that they're back in the win column. At 6-5, Cleveland is still in the thick of the race in the AFC North, which now comes into center focus as the Browns look ahead to their next two games — both are against the Ravens, who still lead the division after a narrow 16-13 win Sunday over the Bears.
They'll head into Baltimore next week with momentum on their side, and that's largely due to another big performance from Chubb, who again reminded Cleveland on Sunday why he's such a special player.
"We needed him," CB Denzel Ward said, "and he showed up."