CLEVELAND, Ohio — Coach Kevin Stefanski assumed the blame Monday for failing to tell Nick Chubb not to score his third and final touchdown in the Browns’ 31-30 epic collapse vs. the Jets on Sunday, and for not communicating it to quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the headset.
“Obviously in retrospect you know, you want to do anything that can secure the win, so that’s something that’s my responsibility to communicate to that huddle,” Stefanski said Monday on his Zoom conference.
“You know, to put yourself up potentially 14 points inside of two minutes, you should close out that game. So, yes, I wish I had said that to Nick, and Nick would have done it. But it doesn’t change the fact that we had plenty of opportunities to win that game.”
Asked later in the presser to clarify if he had said anything to Brissett in the headset about not scoring there, he said, “I did not. So I want to be clear on this one. I absolutely could have told him that in that situation.”
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Facing a first and 10 at the Jets 12 with 2:02 remaining and the Browns clinging to their 24-17 lead, Chubb rumbled 12 yards off left tackle, leaving cornerback DJ Reed flailing on the ground in his wake.
But when he crossed the goal line for the TD with 1:55 remaining, Jets coach Robert Saleh thanked his lucky stars. If Chubb had gone down or out of bounds after getting the first down, Brissett would only have needed to take a knee three times and the game would have been over.
The Browns (1-1) would have gone 2-0 for the first time since 1993, and their fans would have gone home happy instead of erupting into a chorus of boos.
As it was, it snapped a streak of 2,229 games where an NFL team won the game when leading by 13 in the final two minutes — dating back to 2001, according to ESPN Stats and Info. The last team to lose in that situation? The Browns, in an epic meltdown against the Bears in Week 9.
“I’ve never been so happy for a missed tackle in my life,” Saleh said after the game. “That was our only chance. Credit to the offense that stepped up and took advantage of a busted coverage on Corey (Davis’) play and left us enough time to get the onside (kick) and win.”
Joe Flacco (4 TDs, 307 yards, 110.7 rating) won the game with two TD passes in the final 1:22 — including a 66-yarder to Davis and then the 15-yard game-winner to former Buckeye Garrett Wilson with 22 seconds left. left Flacco couldn’t believe his good fortune.
“Obviously, when he scores, you’re thinking, ‘OK, that’s not what he’s supposed to do,'” Flacco said.
Wilson, who caught his first two NFL TD passes Sunday against the Browns, remembers Saleh citing the windfall.
“As soon as Chubb scored,” Wilson said. “Coach said, ‘They just gave us our only chance.'”
It’s not like this has never happened in the Stefanski era. Who can forget the Chubb “No Mas” play in 2020, when he was instructed by Stefanski and Baker Mayfield not to score in the last minute of a 10-7 victory over the Texans to prevent then-Houston QB Deshaun Watson from getting the ball. back Chubb rumbled 59 yards up the left side and veered out of bounds at the 1 to secure the victory.
“That’s a scenario where that is on me to communicate that to the huddle,” Stefanski said after Sunday’s loss. “We have done that before. Having said that, we need to close the game out.”
Chubb, who rushed for 87 yards and the three TDs, has been taking undue heat for scoring the TD and failing to seal the victory.
On Monday, his coach rightfully took the blame.
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