All the Cleveland Browns needed was a first down.
The New York Jets had zero timeouts and were down a touchdown with 2:02 left in the game. The Browns handed it off to Nick Chubb who got that first down, but he juked a defender for two more yards to score his third touchdown of the game, making it 30-17 Browns.
Game over, right? Well …
On 2nd and 1 from the Jets’ 34-yard line, Joe Flacco found a wide open Corey Davis for a 66-yard touchdown. Greg Zuerlein’s extra point gave the Jets the backdoor cover. But the Jets went for an onside kick, recovered it and marched again. This time, Flacco found rookie Garrett Wilson for the game-tying touchdown — his second of the day — and Zuerlein nailed the game-winning PAT.
Had Chubb went down short of the goal line, the Browns could have taken a knee three times until the clock hit zero. Instead, the Jets scored 14 points in the final 1:55 of the game.
ESPN’s win-probability calculator gave Cleveland a 99.9 percent chance of winning. The 0.1 percent prevailed.
“I probably shouldn’t have scored right there, honestly, looking back at it,” Chubb said. “It cost us the game.”
Surely, it doesn’t all fall on Chubb — the defense allowed 128 passing yards to a 37-year-old backup in the final 1:55 of the game.
“A lot of things went wrong not just one thing,” the running back said. “But collectively as a unit, as a team, we could have all done things different, but it’s only a problem because we didn’t win. So, I probably should have went down.”
From Week 9 of 2001 through Week 1 of this season, teams were 2,229-0 when leading by at least 13 points in the final two minutes.
It was, no hyperbole, one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.
Chubb noted that it’s pretty difficult to go from full-speed ahead to a dead stop in just two yards, but he says he “probably could have” gone down.
Fantasy owners rejoiced — Browns fans certainly did not.