Even for teams that you don’t particularly care for, there are always a couple of players whom you wouldn’t mind having on your team. As far as the Cleveland Browns go, one of those players has to be third-year running back Nick Chubb, who wasted little time making himself one of the best rushers in football.
Although Cleveland’s run game has sagged down the stretch, Chubb has had another great year despite missing four games due to injury. Heading into the season finale, over 11 games, he has rushed for 959 yards on 176 attempts, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, while punching it into the end zone 11 times.
And unlike the last meeting, he will be out there for the Browns in their critical rematch against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Cleveland couldn’t get anything going on offense without him in the first game. Now they’re fighting for a postseason berth, and almost surely need the win.
“I am excited. This game definitely means a lot to this team and to this city. We all understand that so we are all pumped up for it”, he told reporters on Wednesday about the significance of the Browns being on the cusp of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2002—at which time Chubb was all of seven years old.
“I know guys who have been here and just hearing from how they talked about it. We have never been in this position before so we are playing for those guys, playing for everyone in this city and playing for each other”, he went on.
Since 2002—following a postseason wildcard game in which they blew a 17-point second-half lead to a Tommy Maddox-led Pittsburgh Steelers team—Cleveland has posted just one winning record, in 2007, going 10-6 and not qualifying for the postseason.
Heading into the finale, they are currently sitting at 10-5 after dropping a frustrating game to the New York Jets, who now have a whopping two wins on the year. Most likely, another 10-6 record will not be enough for them to reach the postseason this year, either.
“We are ready. This is what we play for our whole life – moments like this”, Chubb added. “I am sure guys are up and excited about it. I feel like no one is under the pressure and trying to shy away from it. I feel like everybody is ready to go out there, show what we can do and win this game”.
A win or a loss doesn’t make much of a difference for the Steelers in this one, though of course they would like to win. A win for the Browns, however, would be truly momentous, given how long it has been since they have had any sort of tangible success.