Nick Chubb returned from a stint on injured reserve and scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter — topping 100 yards rushing along with teammate Kareem Hunt — and the Cleveland Browns pushed through rough weather for a 10-7 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Chubb reeled off a 59-yard run with 1:07 left and then smartly ran out of bounds at the 2-yard line instead of scoring so the Texans, who were out of timeouts, wouldn’t get the ball back.
Chubb finished with 126 yards on 19 carries. Hunt finished with 104 yards, including 37 yards — and three first downs — on Cleveland’s final drive as the Browns (6-3) ran out the clock.
With the Browns up 3-0 on a day where passing was almost impossible, Chubb, playing for the first time since Oct. 4, took a handoff on the right, cut left and ran past Texans defensive end J.J. Watt as Cleveland finally found the end zone to go up 10-0.
Deshaun Watson’s 16-yard TD pass to Pharaoh Brown with 4:59 left pulled the Texans (2-7) within three, but Hunt pounded away after the Browns were backed up at their own 3 after a muffed kickoff. Cleveland ate up the final 4:54 against the NFL’s worst rushing defense.
Before Watson’s scoring pass, the Texans couldn’t muster much offense as swirling winds blew Watson’s passes off course and affected a 46-yard field-goal attempt.
The game’s start was delayed 36 minutes after a severe thunderstorm barreled into FirstEnergy Stadium just before kickoff.
An otherwise windy and gray afternoon along Lake Erie darkened quickly as strong, gusting winds blew in from the west, forcing both teams to retreat to their locker rooms and sending fans scurrying for cover.
The hail-producing storm capped a turbulent return from their bye week for the Browns.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield missed one practice after going on the COVID-19 list after having close contact with an infected staffer, and the team had to briefly shut down its facility on Friday when offensive lineman Chris Hubbard tested positive for the coronavirus.
But there was good news this week, too, as Chubb returned, giving the Browns perhaps their best offensive player for a second half they hope leads to their first playoff berth since 2002.
Cleveland’s Myles Garrett recorded his 10th sack and stopped Watson short of the goal line in the first half.
With Houston on the 4-yard line, Watson took the snap, surveyed the line and thought he had a space to wiggle through on the right side. However, Garrett quickly filled the hole, wrapped his arms around Houston’s quick QB and threw him for a 2-yard loss.
Once the game got underway, the Browns drove deep into Houston territory before a questionable grounding call against Mayfield led to Cleveland settling for Cody Parkey’s 41-yard field goal.
THREE AND OUT
The 3-0 halftime score was the lowest at the break in the NFL this season.
With the wind making everything difficult, the Texans decided to fake a field-goal try from 48 yards and pooched a punt inside Cleveland’s 5 as the coaches played some old-school field position.
Texans: On the play before Chubb’s TD, Watt had his right ankle rolled on accidentally by Browns guard Wyatt Teller. Watt remained in the game. … RB Duke Johnson, starting in place of the injured David Johnson (concussion), was slow getting up after diving for an incomplete pass, but stayed in the game after being evaluated.
Texans: Host the New England Patriots on Nov. 22.
Browns: Host the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 22 — the club’s third straight home game.