1/5 | Cleveland Browns linebacker Nick Chubb is treated on the field for an injury during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Pittsburgh. 2/5 | Cleveland Browns linebacker Nick Chubb grimaces on the field after suffering an injury during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Pittsburgh. 3/5 | Cleveland Browns quarterback Nick Chubb is helped by teammates after suffering an injury during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday, September. 18, 2023, in Pittsburgh. 4/5 | Cleveland Browns linebacker Nick Chubb tackles Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Cole Holcomb (55) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Pittsburgh. 5/5 | Cleveland Browns linebacker Nick Chubb runs past Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Pittsburgh. PITTSBURGH Nick Chubb spent the better part of a decade as the heart and soul of the Cleveland Browns.
There is no more respected player in the locker room. No player is more committed to the field. All of which made the star’s run in the second quarter of Monday night’s 26-22 loss against Pittsburgh – his left knee bruised, season-ending – gut rupture. “It hurts (terribly),” linebacker Myles Garrett said. The 27-year-old four-time Pro Bowler has been one of the more established franchises trying to establish himself as a perennial contender. His sixth season in the NFL ended on the second play of the second quarter when Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted Chubb at the end of a 5-yard run early in the second quarter.
Chubb’s knee buckled under him, After the game, a teammate grabbed Chubb’s arm to try to help him up, and Chubb shook his head while holding his left knee. He undid the chin strap and rolled onto his side. Chubb seriously injured the same knee in 2015 while at the University of Georgia, spraining three ligaments. Like the previous injury, one Monday night was difficult to watch because ESPN refused to show replays of the game in which he was injured.
Chubb remained on the ground for several minutes as teammates gathered nearby to pray. He was later carted off and taken to a local hospital as a precaution, but was on his way back to Cleveland when the Browns packed up after losing their 20th straight regular season in Pittsburgh. Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanki did not know the extent of Chubb’s injury, but expects him to be out for the rest of the season. “Obviously we know Nick,” Stefanski said, “But I know Nick and his teammates know and you have to move on.” It won’t be easy, especially after such a painful injury in a public place. NBA star and Ohio native LeBron James and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson were among those who expressed their support for Chubb on social media. James posted that he was “praying for the absolute best,” and Jackson shared similar sentiments. Chubb has been here before. He missed the second half of his sophomore season with an injury against Tennessee, but returned to top 1,000 yards in both 2016 and 2017.
In 2018, he was a second-round pick by the Browns. He averaged over 1,250 yards per season. career, work ethic and modest nature lie the blueprint for the culture Stefanski is trying to instill in a locker room that hasn’t consistently won in decades. Jerome Ford, Chubb’s replacement, scored on a 3-yard play right after Chubb left and added a 2-point conversion that put the Browns up 11-7. Ford ran for 106 yards and had three catches for 25 yards. It just wasn’t enough. It never seems to be for Cleveland as it makes the short trip southeast to face a rival that always seems to have its number, especially when playing at home.
Alex Highsmith dropped a pass from DeShaun Watson 30 yards for a first down touchdown. The Steelers outside linebacker later sacked Watson midway through the fourth quarter. Teammate T.J. Watt caught it and ran 17 yards for a touchdown that ended Cleveland’s bid to beat Pittsburgh in the regular season for the first time since 2003.
The turnovers … the turnovers, it’s just hard to win away from home, period,” Stefanski said. “It’s really hard to win on the road if you make it hard for yourself.” Cleveland fell to 1-1. Four months into a season that began with promise and a dominant win over Cincinnati in the opener, Chubb rushed for 103 yards.
It looked exactly the same for 15 minutes and 51 seconds on Monday night. Chubb ran through Pittsburgh’s porous defensive front. He ran for 59 yards on his first nine carries. His 10th trip ended with his left leg awkwardly under him and his teammates in shock. There is not much time to recover.
Tennessee will visit next Sunday. The Browns regroup and try to do what Chubb would have wanted: get rid of all the excuses and soldier on. “He’s a man of few words who keeps his head down and is always working,” Garrett said.
“And that’s the honesty he has for the game. That’s what we’re hoping to get now, especially for him.”