In a game in which his team wasted chance after chance to secure a victory, rookie running back Nick Chubb made the most of his opportunities.
And then some.
Chubb played three of the 82 offensive snaps Sunday in the Browns’ 45-42 overtime loss at Oakland. He carried the ball on all three plays, rushing for 105 yards, including 63- and 41-yard touchdowns, his first in the NFL.
Let’s recap: Three plays, three carries, 105 yards, two touchdowns.
More than 1,200 times in NFL history has a player had 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Chubb is the first to do it in three rushes or fewer, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“Unbelievable,” coach Hue Jackson said Monday.
Chubb entered with 12:46 left in the second quarter, took the handoff from Baker Mayfield on the dirt infield, started right through a big hole, broke the tackle of linebacker Tahir Whitehead near midfield, angled to the right sideline and pulled away from defensive end Arden Key. Chubb’s underrated speed really showed up when he outran the angle of cornerback Gareon Conley.
“It just looked natural and easy and he was gone,” Jackson said.
Chubb reached 21.15 mph, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the 11th-fastest measured time in the league this year and the fastest for a rushing touchdown.
“I did break the angle or whatever,” he said. “Just training hard, working hard back at home and here. The training staff makes sure that we are squatting and staying explosive throughout the year. I think that it all plays a part in that.”
Chubb, the No. 35 pick out of Georgia, next appeared with 4:20 left in the first half in place of starter Carlos Hyde and picked up a yard on a run to the right. He didn’t resurface again until 4:20 left in the fourth quarter with the Browns ahead 35-34.
He lined up next to Mayfield in the shotgun and started left. He was touched in the backfield but kept going, ran through two attempted leg tackles, made a great jump cut to leave safety Erik Harris grasping at air and beat three Raiders to the right corner of the end zone for the 43-yard score.
“Just want to go back out there and help the team anyway possible,” Chubb said. “So when my name is called I always make sure that I’m ready. No matter what time or point of the game it’s in, I’m ready to go out there and produce for my teammates.”
He credited the blocking for two “wide-open holes that anybody could run through.”
“Those guys did a great job for me,” he said. “On the second level, I took it on myself to get into the end zone.”
Through four games Chubb has 10 carries for 146 yards. Those numbers should see a significant spike, starting Sunday against the Ravens.
“He’s gotta get some (carries),” Jackson said. “Hyde is playing well, but this guy is scoring touchdowns from a long ways away.
“To watch those two runs on tape today, they were even better than what they were on the field. They couldn’t touch him and he made a guy miss, broke a tackle. It was impressive.”
The Browns signed Hyde as a free agent in the offseason to a three-year, $15.25 million contract. He’s run hard and has five short-yardage touchdowns but is averaging only 3.4 yards on 83 carries (285 total) with a long of 22.
The Browns also use Duke Johnson off the bench, primarily as the third-down back. The team’s player of the year in 2017 has 12 carries for 40 yards and nine catches for 84 yards. He converted two 2-point conversions Sunday.
“Carlos has been the bell cow, we’ve handed it to him a lot, obviously Chubb’s gone in there and made some plays here lately and obviously Duke started catching the ball yesterday,” Jackson said. “So I think it’s a good problem to have. I think we’ve got three good answers back there, we’ve just got to, we’ll continue to find ways to use all three.”
Chubb is used to sharing carries after splitting time at Georgia with Sony Michel, the No. 31 pick of the Patriots in April who rushed for 112 yards Sunday against Miami. While he’s not complaining about the lack of touches, Chubb was glad to hear Jackson say he’d have an increased role.
“I am always excited just to be featured more,” he said. “No matter where it is on the field — special teams, running the ball or catching the ball — I am up for it and I am happy to do it.”
Chubb said he pulls energy from Hyde’s runs and takes notes about Johnson’s versatility.
“I am just learning and taking in everything that I can from those two guys,” he said.
The transition to the NFL has had its rough patches. Chubb missed on a pass protection in the opener and was responsible for a blocked punt against the Jets, but said he’s getting better in every area.
“I made a rookie mistake, I let him bait me into something he didn’t do and I learned from it,” he said of the blocked punt. “Just a lot of great experience for me moving on.”
While Chubb was finishing the 63-yard touchdown, Mayfield was sprinting down the middle of the field in delight.
“That’s the energy he brings,” Chubb said. “Just so happy, he wants to celebrate with the team.
“His energy, his positive vibe, it lightens everybody up and guys want to play harder. The future’s so bright, hopefully I can stick around, be a part of it with him, do some great things here.”