Back from COVID-19 absence, Nick Chubb lifts Cleveland to ugly 13-10 win over Lions

CLEVELAND — The Browns prevented their 2021 season from taking a catastrophic turn Sunday by doing what they were supposed to do against the Detroit Lions.

However, coach Kevin Stefanski and his men barely got the job done.

With a 13-10 victory over the winless Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns kept their playoff hopes flickering in a season of a great expectations. The game was as sloppy as the cold, rainy weather on Cleveland’s lakefront.

Two-time Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb was the undisputed hero for the Browns (6-5). After sitting out last week with a breakthrough COVID-19 case, Chubb rushed 22 times for 130 yards (5.9 average) and caught two passes for 14 yards and a touchdown against the Lions (0-9-1).

The Browns were crushed 45-7 on the road last week by the New England Patriots. Afterward, All-Pro end Myles Garrett publicly lamented a lack of in-game adjustments, giving rise to questions about whether defensive coordinator Joe Woods still has the trust of the locker room.

The defense held the Lions scoreless in the first half and produced two takeaways.

A good defensive performance was necessary because Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield struggled with his accuracy throughout the game. Playing through a right knee contusion, a sore left heel and an injured left, non-throwing shoulder, Mayfield limped off the field late in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Case Keenum warmed up on the sideline early in the fourth quarter, but Mayfield stayed in the game and took every snap.

Mayfield went 15-of-29 passing (51.7%) for 176 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions for a rating of 53.2. He was coming off an abysmal performance against the Patriots in which he passed for a career-low 73 yards.

The Lions are the NFL’s only winless team this season. Although they tied the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-16 last week, the Lions have a 14-game winless streak, dating to Dec. 6, 2020.

Quarterback Tim Boyle made his first regular-season NFL start with starter Jared Goff (oblique) inactive. Boyle went 15-of-23 passing (65.2%) for 77 yards with two interceptions for a rating of 34.1.

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