General George S. Patton was a World War II era leader known for inspiring speeches before a gruesome battle. Maybe a football game isn’t exactly a war – nobody died at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 15th, 2020 – but the Browns claimed a victory over the Houston Texans, the elements, and their own self doubt.
“A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”
With temperatures dipping below 45 degrees with the wind and hail whipping through jerseys, the start of the game was delayed over a half hour. Early on, both Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield tested Mother Nature with downfield throws. Both learned a large chunk of the game plan would not be effective. The 3-0 halftime score showed how heavily the wind and cold effected the offense.
The score could have been 7-3 if Myles Garrett hadn’t sniffed out a fourth down designed quarterback run in the red zone. The Browns had early momentum behind the run game but a bobbled snap led to a stalled drive. However, the offensive line began breaking the will of the Texans defensive front seven. That slow build of confidence led to the running game taking over in the fourth quarter. Before Chubb’s injury, the Browns led the NFL in rushing yards per game, yards per carry, and rushing touchdowns. The game plan became clear – keep the ball on the ground, eat the clock, break the defense.
“If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
Former Browns coach Romeo Crennel, on the other hand, relied on the arm and legs of his quarterback Deshaun Watson. In a game where no receiver would end up gaining more than Rashard Higgins 48 yards, Watson made some spectacular throws, including a desperate heave to Randall Cobb on a third and long. Overall, the Browns remained dedicated to a “bend but never break” strategy that has surrendered yards in between the twenties, but typically ends drives without touchdowns. Crennel also burned timeouts early, leading to a late Nick Chubb run that Browns fans will remember a long time. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski seemed to have faith that the one-two punch of his running game, Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, would prove too much for the battered Texans.
“Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.”
After the Browns scored on a brilliant cutback from Chubb to make the score 10-0, Watson found former Browns training camp cut Pharoah Brown open in the end zone over safety Andrew Sendejo. All the pressure in the world pushed down on a Browns offense that hadn’t shown much pop since the October 25th injury to Odell Beckham Jr. The attention he commanded from the opposing defense softened the run support from safeties all season. Donovan People-Jones made an awful misjudgment on the kickoff, pinning the Browns on their own 2 yard line. There was plenty of doubt Baker Mayfield would be able to sustain a drive and burn enough clock.
After some gutsy runs from both Hunt and Chubb to bring the ball past the thirty yard line, Chubb found daylight around rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills. As Chubb flew past the Texans safeties, he no doubt thought of the Colts quick kickoff return for a touchdown. He likely thought the heat Falcons running back Todd Gurley drew for scoring a touchdown with too much time on the clock earlier this season. Perhaps he thought of Myles Garrett clubbing a Steelers backup quarterback like a baby seal in the meaningless end of a game exactly one year ago.
At any rate, Nick Chubb made a smart, mindful, team-first play by stepping out of bounds at the one yard line, knowing the Browns would win the game by kneeling out the clock. Now that, Browns fans, is some real George S. Patton hero shit. Let’s all spend our days Nick Chubbin’ so later on we can go night clubbin’.
Go Browns, six wins, three losses. The wildcard is still very much in grasp. Follow Realbrownsfans.com on Twitter @realbrownsfans.com, @realcavsfans.com, and @Real_brownsfans.com