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Nick Chubb’s return lifts offense, but passing game still dragging it down

CLEVELAND — The Browns offense clawed its way to the finish line against Detroit.

Nick Chubb ran for 130 yards on 22 carries and ran out the final minutes to help Cleveland pull out a 13-10 win against the winless Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday.

Chubb was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday after missing last weekend’s game in New England.

“I felt great,” Chubb said. “It was great to get back out there with the team and get things rolling again. It definitely feels good, but it’s not all me. It starts up front with guys like (left guard) Joel (Bitonio) blocking for me and opening up holes. It’s definitely a team effort.”

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Chubb was the bright spot in an otherwise forgettable day offensively for the Browns, who ran for 184 yards and produced two touchdowns, but could not get its passing attack going and committed numerous penalties.

Baker Mayfield, who entered nursing various injuries and came up limping on multiple occasions, threw for 176 yards and completed just 52 percent of his passes. He found Chubb on a 5-yard touchdown to put the Browns up 13-0 at the end of the half.

Mayfield declined to do his standard postgame interview.

“The guy is tough and plays hard,” Bitonio said of Mayfield. “He wants to win badly and he’s our leader. We follow that and we have to keep protecting him and keep him upright so we can have him down the stretch.”

Commentary: Desperate for a win, Browns settle for an ugly one over a bad team

None of the other Browns running backs could find much success, though they were given a combined eight carries. D’Ernest Johnson put together 26 yards on five attempts and Demetric Felton gained 2 yards on three carries.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry had arguably the best non-Chubb run of the day when he scored the game’s first touchdown from 16 yards on a broken trick play that looked as if he was designed to throw the ball after taking a direct snap.

“I think it’s execution,” Bitonio said. “Today we hurt ourselves with penalties. We can watch them and see, but they called them so that is what we have to deal with. Penalties really put us behind the sticks. We want to be a team that gets into third-and-3s not third-and-10s. I think that is the first thing, the penalties, the focus and to execute on every play. Take every play one play at a time and try to execute.”

Notes: Jarvis Landry injures knee again, fights to return, throws key block

The Browns’ offensive struggles are nothing new as they have failed to score more than 14 points in five out of their last eight games. The notable exceptions are a 47-42 loss to the Chargers in Week 5 and a 41-16 win over Cincinnati in Week 9.

Cleveland’s other game of more than 14 points came in Week 7, when it scored 17 in a three-point win over Denver on Thursday Night Football. But the short turnaround combined with a slew of injuries that sidelined many of their starters — including Mayfield and Chubb — were major factors in the low scoring output.

“We have to score more points obviously,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “We have to find ways to be explosive in the run and the pass. We have to stay on the field on third down to give ourselves another set of downs and then we have to score when we get in the red zone. I think it is a combination of things, but we absolutely have to score more points.”

Denzel Ward, Malcolm Smith interceptions key as defense holds Lions to 10 points in win

Contact Chris Sweeney at 440-329-7135 or [email protected] Follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.

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