Browns Survive Winless Lions, 13-10

Nick Chubb's return was a welcome sight for the Browns. (Cleveland Browns)

Nick Chubb's return was a welcome sight for the Browns. (Cleveland Browns)

Browns survive winless Lions, 13-10

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

Instant takeaways from Browns’ 13-10 win over Detroit Lions …

1. You can exhale: The Browns played down to the level of the opposition and nearly lost. But they didn’t. And the tougher-than-needed, 13-10 win over winless Detroit sets them up for the crucial visit to division-leading Baltimore on Sunday night. Whether this game provides the Browns any confidence is debatable. But at 6-5, they still trail the Ravens (7-3), who came back to beat the Bears, even without Lamar Jackson. The Browns survived the Lions despite two interceptions on a bad day for banged-up quarterback Baker Mayfield and 10 penalties – five of the dreaded pre-snap variety. Nick Chubb’s return was the key to the win. Chubb’s 21st 100-yard game made up for Mayfield’s erratic passing day . The Browns are 16-5 when Chubb tops 100 yards. He totaled 130 yards on 22 carries.
2. Nothing there: Mayfield’s dismal play continued with an interception with 11:01 left in the fourth quarter. His pass for Jarvis Landry was deflected by linebaker Alex Anzalone and caught by cornerback A.J. Parker at the Browns’ 34-yard line. Many boos were heard. The defense held and Aldrick Rosas booted a 43-yard field goal to close the Browns’ lead to 13-10. Mayfield’s final numbers were: 15 of 29 for 176 yards, one TD, two INTs and a passer rating of 53.2

3. Uh oh: All of football was wondering how on Earth the Lions would score, especially after a Boyle deep ball for Josh Reynolds was intercepted by Denzel Ward. The Browns failed to capitalize on a 37-yard completion to Ja’Marcus Bradley to the Lions’ 48. After the first sack of Mayfield on the day, the Browns punted. And then on third down, lightning struck the Browns’ defense. D’Andre Swift took a simple handoff on third-and-8, cut inside of safety John Johnson, then made a second cut inside defensive tackle Malik Jackson and safety Grant Delpit, and accelerated 57 yards to the end zone. With 1:55 in the third quarter, the Lions were down by one score, 13-7.

4. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am: The highlight of the first half was a block by pulling guard Wyatt Teller that decleated linebacker Alex Anzalone on a 6-yard run by Chubb. Rarely does a block by an interior lineman result in fan reaction in a stadium. This one was seen by all and the reaction was joyous, as if a touchdown had been scored.

5. Muchas gracias: The Browns’ offense never got out of first gear. But they were able to open up a two-score lead at halftime because of generosity by the visitors. Mayfield’s throws were all over the place, but three defensive penalties by the Lions enabled a 76-yard drive. In chronological order, the infractions were charged to safety Tracy Walker (holding), and two to cornerback Amani Oruwariye (hands to face and passing interference). The latter two came on Mayfield incompletions on fourth and third down, respectively. Mayfield converted the touchdown on an easy play-fake and flip to Chubb from 5 yards out.

6. Chase off: Kicker Chase McLaughlin had a wobbly first half. His first PAT knuckled through the posts. He missed a 46-yard field goal try to the Dawg Pound end wide right. And his second PAT was blocked by Levi Onwuzurike.

7. Juiced up: The Browns went gadget play for their first touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. On first down from the Lions’ 16, they motioned Jarvis Landry in wildcat formation with Mayfield offset to his right. Landry indeed looked to throw, but pulled it down and ran up the middle for the end zone. It was Landry’s second touchdown of the season – both coming on the ground.

8. Ugh: The Browns failed to score on their first possession for only the second time in 11 games. It resulted in their first 0-0 tie after the first quarter all season.

8a. More ugh: The Browns have put a great deal of emphasis on eliminating pre-snap penalties, particularly offsides calls on defensive linemen. Let’s say they need more work on it. In the first half, Malik McDowell, Tommy Togiai and Myles Garrett all jumped offsides.

9. Trivia time: What do Mayfield and Tim Boyle have in common? They each tossed an interception in the first half. Mayfield sailed the ball over and behind Landry in the first quarter and it was intercepted by Oruwariye. Boyle returned the favor 4 minutes later when he threw behind D’Andre Swift. Malcolm Smith juggled and held on for the steal.

10. Pre-game notes: The Browns’ receiving corps has dwindled to the verge of non-existence and it was further depleted when Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) was made inactive. He joined Anthony Schwartz (concussion). The team elevated receiver Lawrence Cager from the practice squad to help. Also, Demetric Felton was active. It was expected that tight end David Njoku would receive more snaps as a result. Also inactive was defensive end Takk McKinley. The Lions did make quarterback Jared Goff (oblique) inactive and replaced him with Tim Boyle. Also, the Lions made a surprise switch at kicker and replaced newly signed Riley Patterson with Aldrick Rosas.