CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – In Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans the Browns ran the ball 41 times.
Mother nature had something to do with it with wind gusts hitting 30 miles per hour regularly.
The conditions forced Baker Mayfield to attempt just 20 throws, completing a dozen of them for 132 yards and the Browns to get back to their bread and butter – punishing opponents on the ground.
Mayfield isn’t complaining.
“It is whatever it takes to win,” Mayfield said. “The stats I could care less about, but the one stat that I care about is wins and losses.
“Our running game is something special when we get going, and we have to continue to improve that.”
Nick Chubb’s return from injured reserve also helped.
Chubb churned out 126 yards on 19 carries, including his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. Kareem Hunt also carried 19 times for 104 yards.
The Browns are fourth in the NFL with an average of 159.0 yards rushing per game but 30th in passing averaging 188.8 yards through the air.
“It is whatever we have to do to win,” Chubb said. “If that is not throwing the ball, let’s do it. Let’s not run the ball and let’s do it.
It is just whatever we have to do to win.”
When the dust settled, the Browns had 231 yards on the ground, second most this season behind a 307-yard effort at Dallas and marking the third time they hit 200-plus on the ground.
“It is such a vital part about our offense but also our team,” Mayfield said. “We talk about controlling the clock, momentum of the game and being able to put teams away when you are up by three points late in the game, having a four-minute drive to take time off the clock so our defense can get rested and then our pass rush can go after these guys and put pressure on them. It is fun to watch offensively just because it opens up things in our pass game, but it is a huge part of our team.”
With the ball at their own 3 and just under 5 minutes on the clock and clinging to a 3-point lead, Hunt and Chubb made sure the Texans never saw the ball again. Hunt ran six straight times for 37 yards out to the 40 before Hunt’s final run.
“You definitely stay fresh,” Chubb said. “You definitely get to wear on the defense and get to bring in new fresh legs whenever you need them. I think that helps us out. It is an advantage for us.”
It’s not the first time Mayfield saw the dynamic duo pound the opposition into submission, and he hopes it won’t be the last.
“You can definitely tell later in the games. Obviously, those guys breaking more and more tackles,” Mayfield said. “Just the effort on defensive guys, you can tell the way they approached those guys, whether they are coming in with the same intensity or they are diving early and not wrapping up. They wear on those guys, and our O line, they feed off of that. They see those guys breaking tackles and they continue to push the pile. It is not only just our backs but everybody as a whole block for them.”
Chubb agreed with Mayfield.
“It is just easier to break tackles,” Chubb said. “In the first quarter, guys are flying around full speed, coming out of nowhere and tackling and wrapping up hard. Fourth quarter, it is like it is not there anymore. It is like you can see them kind of slowing down. That is pretty much it. You can just feel it.”
With more rain in the forecast once again Sunday, Mayfield may have to defer to his backs once again to carry the load.
“I think you have to be able to do whatever it takes to win,” Mayfield said. “Some games, it just kind of depends on who you are playing. Are they going to load the box? Are they going to try and stop the run? Or are they going to play the split safety, allow you to run the ball and keep the ball in front of them?
“It is that mentality of whatever it takes. You just have to attack, and whatever they are stopping you, you have to go the opposite way.”