Browns hold off Lions for a bounce-back victory
The Browns didn't need style points Sunday. They just needed a win to bounce back and get right back into the thick of a crowded AFC playoff race.
That's exactly what they got in a game in which they never trailed, as the defense largely dominated and the offense capitalized during an opportunistic second quarter to down the Lions, 13-10, at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The win pushed the Browns back above .500 to 6-5. Detroit fell to 0-9-1.
Nick Chubb, back from a one-game absence on the reserve/COVID-19 list, cleared 100 yards for the fourth time this season and the 21st time of his career. He earned all 130 of them, and his 11-yard run on third-and-3 with less than 2 minutes to play followed by a 16-yard carry on the next play all but put the feisty Lions away for good. His 3-yard run on third-and-2 with 1:33 remaining officially ended it.
The Browns rushed for 184 yards, 16 of which coming from WR Jarvis Landry, who got the Browns rolling in the second quarter with his fifth career rushing touchdown.
Baker Mayfield, battling through three different injuries, threw for 176 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Without two key receivers — Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones were both sidelined with injuries — Mayfield found Austin Hooper the most, and the veteran tight end finished with four catches for 53 yards.
The Lions got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter, when D'Andre Swift sliced through the Browns defense on his way to a 57-yard touchdown run. They cut even further into the lead, 13-10, with 9:07 to play after Mayfield's second interception set up a field goal.
The Browns, though, got the stops they needed to ensure the Lions wouldn't have a chance to tie or win. Cleveland forced a Lions punt with 2:29 to play and never gave the ball back.
Ultimately, the Browns, who will look to win consecutive games for the first time since Week 4 when they take on the Ravens next Sunday, want to get out of this stretch of being up one week and down the next. But after last week's performance in New England, the Browns had to bounce back, and that's exactly what they did Sunday on a wet, windy, football-weather afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns came out slow and committed a costly turnover in the first part of the first quarter, but an interception of their own turned the momentum, and Cleveland never gave it back.
Malcolm Smith's interception of Boyle at the 15-yard line put a prompt end to a potential Lions scoring drive. Cleveland responded with its first of two scoring drives, as Landry capped the eight-play, 84-yard possession with a 16-yard rushing touchdown — the seventh non-receiving touchdown of his career.
Cleveland took nearly 7 minutes off the clock on a drive that stretched past the 2-minute warning and ended with a 5-yard Chubb receiving touchdown. It was Chubb's first regular season receiving touchdown since his rookie season, and it staked the Browns to a 13-0 lead they'd take into the half.
The Browns take on the Ravens in Baltimore next Sunday in primetime.