CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns beat the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium. Although it wasn’t always pretty, seeing running back Nick Chubb take the field for the first time in four weeks was, as defensive end Myles Garrett described it, “poetry in motion.”
One-two punch back in action
Chubb returned to action after being placed on injured reserve with an MCL injury he sustained in Week 4, and after shaking the rust off, had a monster game, rushing for a season-high 126 yards on 19 carries, scoring a touchdown and making an insanely smart play down the stretch to seal the win.
While Chubb has been out, running back Kareem Hunt has been holding down the fort and has been playing well, but the Browns have sorely missed the one-two punch that the Chubb-Hunt backfield tandem provides.
The two complemented each other well, and on Sunday, Browns fans were reminded just how well.
On Sunday, Chubb and Hunt each had over 100 rushing yards—the first pair of Browns teammates to each reach the 100-yard rushing mark in the same game since Ernie Green and Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly did so in 1966 against the Pittsburgh Steelers—the first season of the Super Bowl era.
Chubb and Hunt combined for 230 rushing yards, marking the third game this season the Browns have recorded more than 200 yards.
Team revels in return
Browns fans and fantasy owners alike were thrilled to see Chubb back out on the field, but his teammates might be most excited to have him back.
“You have seen this time after time with this man. He is one of the best in the league, and he shows that every time he is out there. Love getting to watch him, especially on my team. It is just fun watching him. That is all I can really say,” Garrett said of Chubb.
Garrett said having the Chubb and Hunt duo is “wonderful to be a part of.”
“These guys are getting after it. When I watch Nick, it is like watching poetry in motion,” Garrett said. “Kareem, he is just a force. He will run through you. He will go by you. He will stiff arm you. He runs really aggressive, and he will go anywhere he needs to get to that end zone or that first down. To have both of them, it is just wonderful to be a part of this.”
Quarterback Baker Mayfield said the team is thrilled to have the pair together in the backfield once again.
“Kareem, he brings that tempo and the electric runs to us. Nick will break those off and make long runs, but Kareem, the energy he brings into the huddle, he is constantly talking. They are two very different people, but I think that is the great part about it,” Mayfield said. “Kareem brings energy into the huddle, continues to fight off tackles and just does not care what happens, just really wants to win in any way, which Nick is the same way. It is great to see how they both lead in two very different ways.”
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson couldn’t contain his excitement when asked about getting to play with the Chubb-Hunt duo.
“I love it. I love it. I love it. Watching the boys run up the field like that, that is something you have seen once or twice and a couple of times in training camp, and thought, ‘That is not going to happen in the game. I hope it happens in the game.’ They have been carrying the team for real,” Richardson said.
Even Hunt, who had an explosive game himself, said he appreciates what Chubb helps him achieve on the field, crediting his teammate for helping keep him fresh and able to make big plays throughout the game.
“It is great to have Nick back. He is a great football player. I missed seeing him out there making big plays. We feed off one another,” Hunt said. “I was definitely fresher out there. The bye week, I had time to rest up and get my body somewhat back so that was a big thing, too. It is great to have Nick come in, too. No drop-off.”
The unsung hero
While Chubb’s return provided a clear and obvious boost to the run game, the return of Wyatt Teller and the impact he has should not be overlooked.
Teller had been out since Week 5 with a calf injury and Chris Hubbard, who is currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, filled in, despite never having played at right guard position in his career before.
Hubbard played well, but having Teller back on the field made a world of difference.
Teller is the highest graded guard in the NFL this season at 94.9, with a run-block grade of 93.9, according to Pro Football Focus. On Sunday, Teller showed that high-ranked talent throughout the game, setting blocks and opening holes for Hunt and Chubb to exploit.
Left guard Joel Bitonio said having Teller back on the field provided the line with “continuity.”
“It was good. It was good to have continuity. I think we had guys that were wearing on them as a group, and I think you saw it late in the game we boosted a few more,” Bitonio said. “[Teller] tries to mow people out there, and when you are playing, it is hard to tell who is making lead blocks and stuff like that, but it was great to just have the guy out there. I know the first game back, he worked his butt off to get back, too—so it was good to have him and Hoop [Austin Hooper] back out there and Nick. That was fun to have the whole offense, obviously besides OBJ [Odell Beckham Jr.] back out there.”
The return of Teller and Chubb provided a much-needed boost to the run game, and the Browns will look to continue their dominance on the ground as they prepare for the Philadelphia Eagles next week. But until then, the Browns can enjoy being 6-3 on the season and fans can enjoy another Victory Monday.
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Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.