CLEVELAND (AP/WJW) — What a stunner!
Nick Chubb scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left in overtime and Cleveland rallied Sunday to stun Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-17 in Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s final start before Deshaun Watson returns from his suspension.
Chubb powered through a pile of bodies at the goal line as the Browns (4-7) sent Brissett off with a win. Watson, who was banned 11 games by the NFL for sexual misconduct allegations, will start next week in Houston.
“I just gave him a game ball,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said of Brissett. “I am really happy for Jacoby. He is a great leader. He is a great teammate. That is why he got a game ball. We are going to need him to continue to be a great teammate and a great leader. That is his role on this football team. He battled like crazy. Again, that is a really good defense. It was a great effort by him.”
In speaking with the media following the game Brissett didn’t shy away from saying how much the moment meant to him.
“I mean this in no disrespect, but in the words of Tom Brady, that was [expletive] awesome. That was [expletive] awesome,” he told reporters.
He also said that Stefanski giving him a game ball was “super special,” because he didn’t expect it.
“Like I said though, this has never been about me. It has always been about the team. This was our team’s opportunity to step up in a big moment, and I think we did that,” he said.
Chubb’s short TD was set up when Brissett connected on a 45-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper, who found himself wide open when Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis III slipped and fell near midfield.
The Browns forced OT on tight end David Njoku’s remarkable, one-handed TD catch with 32 seconds left in regulation. Njoku extended his left arm to haul in Brissett’s 12-yard scoring strike in the back of the end zone.
Brady threw two touchdown passes, but couldn’t get anything going in the 10-minute OT as the Bucs (5-6) were unable to keep their momentum going following a bye.
Led by All-Pro end Myles Garrett, who had two sacks, the Browns held Tampa Bay without a point on its final seven possessions.
Brady completed 29 of 43 passes for 246 yards and was sacked four times.
Brissett, who began his career as one of Brady’s backups in New England, went 23 of 37 for 210 yards. Chubb finished with 116 yards on 26 carries.
Brady opened the second half completing his first six passes, including a 28-yarder to Mike Evans, who became the first Tampa Bay player to reach 10,000 yards receiving.
The Buccaneers took a 17-10 lead when Brady connected with rookie Ko Kieft on a 5-yard scoring pass. It was the 638th TD pass for Brady, and No. 1 for Kieft, who is listed as the team’s fourth-string tight end. But it clearly wasn’t enough.
Garrett arrived for the game wearing a customized white suit accented with dinosaur fossils.
The outfit was a nod to Garrett recently being named a community service ambassador for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Garrett is a paleontology enthusiast.
Large circular rings of tire tracks were still visible on Cleveland’s field after an intruder broke into the stadium earlier in the week and drove a vehicle on the turf.
The unknown suspect, who broke into the stadium on Monday night, caused superficial damage and divots.
Police are investigating the incident, which forced the stadium’s maintenance crew to make repairs to get the surface game ready.
Buccaneers: RT Tristan Wirfs was carted off the field in OT after sustaining an apparent serious leg injury. Players on both teams knelt as he was being checked by medical personnel. S Antoine Winfield Jr. was evaluated for a concussion in the first half, but returned.
Browns: CB A.J. Green (head) left the field after making a low tackle late in the first quarter. An official noticed Green staggering and escorted him off. Garrett, who is still dealing with a shoulder injury sustained in a September car crash, spent time in a medical tent in the first quarter.
Watson plays his first game in 700 days against the Texans, who drafted him in 2017.
Brissett was candid about his spot on the team with Watson returning.
“I feel like this week y’all feel like I am about to die or something,” he told reporters, getting them laughing. “I still have a job to do. I’m still on the team. I will figure that out when the time comes, but I still have to be the same person every day no matter my situation or status. I think that is what makes me me. I am excited for him to come back. Looking forward to next week.”