CLEVELAND — The Washington defensive line made running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt work hard for just about every yard.
Cleveland’s terrific tandem has no problem with hard work, eventually wore down the defense and salted away a second straight victory in the fourth quarter Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“The Washington Football Team has a great defense,” Chubb said after the 34-20 victory that improved the Browns to 2-1. “We knew it was not going to be easy, but we take pride in those 2-yard dirty runs and those 0-yard dirty runs because we know it takes a toll on the team and, eventually, we will bust one.
“The whole game everybody kept telling me, ‘Just be patient. It is going to pop. It is going to pop.’ I think it worked for us.”
Chubb rushed 19 times for 108 yards, a 5.7 average and two touchdowns. He had a 16-yard score in the second quarter and a 20-yarder in the fourth. He added a 25-yard pickup in the fourth to set up a touchdown pass to rookie tight end Harrison Bryant.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 27, 2020
The sledding was tougher for Hunt, who rushed 16 times for 46 yards, a 2.9 average. He caught two passes for 19 yards — a one-hander down the sideline to convert a third down and a 9-yard touchdown.
“Sometimes it is not going to be always perfect,” Hunt said. “Sometimes you have to find a way to make something happen. That is what we have to do. Nick and I are both playmakers, and at any given time of play, we can have a big run.”
Hunt carried 11 times for 41 yards in the fourth quarter, including gains of 11, 9 and 7 yards, as the Browns scored 17 points to erase a 20-17 deficit.
“The biggest thing is we have to keep getting first downs to keep the clock moving,” Hunt said. “Everybody in the stadium knows it is a run at that time of the game so we just have to go out there and grind it out.”
Chubb is the first Cleveland player to rush for 100 yards and two touchdowns in consecutive weeks since Leroy Kelly in 1967. He has 13 career 100-yard games and is only three games into his third season. He trails Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott by one for most 100-yard games since 2018.
“That is a really good defense over there,” Chubb said. “It says a lot about us to be able to run against a great defense like that. We have to keep it going and keep getting better every week.”
Kick returner JoJo Natson suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and didn’t return. Coach Kevin Stefanski said he’d undergo testing Sunday night.
Natson returned a punt for 11 yards and a kickoff for 31. He also gained 3 yards on an end-around.
The Browns finished the game with three receivers.
** Cornerback Denzel Ward started and played most of the first half but didn’t play in the second half. He injured his groin in practice Thursday, didn’t practice Friday and was listed as questionable.
“I do not think he will be any worse for the wear, but he felt it a little bit so we will be smart about that,” Stefanski said.
** Cornerback Kevin Johnson replaced Ward and saw his first game action of the year. He suffered a lacerated liver in practice Aug. 19.
** Linebacker Mack Wilson (knee) played for the first time this season but was limited to a handful of snaps as the team brings him back slowly.
** Linebacker/special teamer Tae Davis (elbow) left the game and didn’t return.
The Browns and Washington celebrated making NFL history by having a female coach on each sideline and a female official in the same game. Callie Brownson is Stefanski’s chief of staff, Jennifer King is a full-season intern for Washington and Sarah Thomas is an official.
“I am very proud of it,” Stefanski said. “Proud of Callie. The stuff she does behind the scenes is incredible. Just the significance of having the women in those positions today is a very big deal, and we want to shine a light on it.”
“I think it is about time that there is some gender equity in this sport,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “Women love this game. A lot of them want to play this game, and they play it. A lot of them want to coach it, and they are coaching it. All we are doing is just creating opportunities for people that deserve it.”
Brownson was looking forward to the occasion.
“It’s kind of incredible,” she told FoxSports.com during the week. “When you think back on where these journeys started for all of us, and then you get to a point now where we’re looking at walking out on the field on Sunday and there being female representation in almost every category — it’s unbelievable. It’s the stuff we’ve dreamed about for so long.”
A MIXED BAG
Rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills deserves credit for the running success and the overall protection of quarterback Baker Mayfield, who blamed himself for the two sacks allowed. But Wills was penalized twice for false starts and was beat by end Montez Sweat for a sack.
“Jed made a few mistakes, but we are going to pick him up,” Hunt said. “We have got his back no matter what. It is team football so we have to go out there, delete that and keep playing.”
Sweat played well — the sack, four tackles, two tackles for loss, four quarterback hits — especially after fellow end Chase Young left with a groin injury in the second quarter. Young was the No. 2 pick out of Ohio State in April.
“Montez showed that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Rivera said. “You can imagine what it would be like if we would have had a healthy Chase.”
** Veteran Cody Parkey has stabilized the kicking situation. He made 42- and 30-yard field goals and all four extra points, with every kick into the Dawg Pound. He was 5-for-5 on extra points Week 2 against the Bengals after Austin Seibert was cut after missing two kicks in the opener.
And after the kick coverage had been awful for two weeks, Parkey had touchbacks on all seven kickoffs.
Receiver Rashard Higgins was a healthy scratch. KhaDarel Hodge has been the clear No. 3 receiver this season and was the game captain Sunday. Natson served as the No. 4 wideout until he got hurt.
** Rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones was a healthy scratch for the third straight game.
** Cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder), defensive end Olivier Vernon (abdomen), rookie linebacker Jacob Phillips (knee) and guard Evan Brown (healthy scratch) were the other inactives. Williams, Vernon and Phillips were ruled out Friday.
The Browns beat an NFC East team for the first time since the Giants in October 2008.
** New safety Ronnie Harrison has a new fan. Harrison, who was traded from the Jaguars on Sept. 3, pulled off I-80 last week to help Michael Cutlip, who had a tire blow out. Harrison helped him change it.
“I just wanted to make sure he was cool,” Harrison told News5cleveland.com. “I just had to pull over and make sure he was OK, to make sure he was going to be safe because I knew it was probably a crazy event for him.”
** Safety Andrew Sendejo was fined $13,327 by the NFL for lowering his head Sept. 17 against the Bengals. Right guard Wyatt Teller was fined $4,412 for an illegal blindside block, and defensive end Porter Gustin $3,971 for a face mask penalty.
Cincinnati defensive end Khalid Kareem was docked $4,110 for unnecessary roughness after a block on Mayfield after an interception.
** Undrafted rookie cornerback A.J. Green was elevated from the practice squad Saturday and saw action. He will return to the practice squad this week.