It wasn't pretty, but the Cleveland Browns have won for the first time in more than a month.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt provided a strong one-two punch at running back, and Baker Mayfield took care of the ball as the Browns earned a 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Stephen Hauschka missed a potential game-tying 53-yard field goal—his second miss of the game—with 17 seconds remaining to clinch the game.
Cleveland held Buffalo to 344 yards of total offense, while Josh Allen continued to struggle as a passer. The loss drops Buffalo to 6-3 on the season, jeopardizing the Bills' hold on one of two wild-card spots.
The Browns entered losers of four straight games since their 2-2 start and appeared to be reeling. Mayfield, one of the league's biggest disappointments, went through several facial-hair iterations last week alone in hopes of fixing his woes.
Hunt, who returned from an eight-game suspension, totaled 74 yards and gave the Browns dynamism as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
QB Josh Allen: 22-of-41 passing, 266 YDS (6 CAR, 28 YDS, 2 TD)
RB Devin Singletary: 8 CAR, 42 YDS (3 REC, 8 YDS)
WR John Brown: 5 REC, 77 YDS
WR Cole Beasley: 4 REC, 74 YDS
QB Baker Mayfield: 26-of-38 passing, 238 YDS, 2 TD
RB Nick Chubb: 20 CAR, 116 YDS (2 REC, 5 YDS)
RB Kareem Hunt: 4 CAR, 30 YDS (7 REC, 44 YDS)
WR Odell Beckham Jr: 5 REC, 57 YDS
WR Jarvis Landry: 9 REC, 97 YDS, 1 TD
Passing Game Continues to Hold Bills Back
The ceiling for this team is limited as long as Josh Allen is the starting quarterback. While he's effective with his feet, his passing should probably make Bills fans wistful for the halcyon days of Tyrod Taylor under center.
Allen consistently misses open targets, tries to use his arm to fit the ball into impossible windows and nearly cost the Bills the game with a fumble deep inside the red zone in the fourth quarter. Only Jon Feliciano's quick hands saved Allen from a potentially game-losing turnover.
John Brown and Cole Beasley are a solid (albeit unspectacular) one-two punch at the receiver spot, and Devin Singletary has helped give life to the running game.
Stephen Hauschka is the root cause of the Bills' loss Sunday; they win if he connects on his two field goal attempts, which came from 34 and 53 yards out. But the Bills haven't been able to finish drives all season because they can't count on Allen to make passes into small windows.
The Browns Are Still Too Talented to Be This Bad
Hunt sure didn't look like he's lost a step in his return to football, giving the Browns perhaps the league's best running back duo. Odell Beckham didn't suddenly lose his magic on the flight from New York to Cleveland, and Jarvis Landry is among the best underneath targets in football.
Mayfield had one of his best games of the season, completing 26 of his 38 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, but it still amounted to just 19 points. Compiling 368 yards of total offense against this Bills defense is impressive; they came into the league third in yards allowed (298.3 per game). Chubb's 116-yard performance continued his season-long trend of churning out big games despite the circumstances.
There are so many pieces here, all healthy and ready to be competitive. Mayfield's decision making has been bad all season, but the lack of victories and discipline comes down to coaching. The Browns ran six plays inside the Bills 2-yard line in the first half and found a way to turn the ball over on downs—a seeming schematic impossibility.
A win is a win, but it's hard to not watch this team and wonder why it's not better.
The Browns host the Steelers on Thursday night. The Bills travel to Miami to play the Dolphins next Sunday.