OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The lasting memory the Ravens defense has of Nick Chubb is his white No. 24 jersey racing down the sideline at M&T Bank Stadium in September.
In the last meeting this season between the Browns and Ravens, Chubb had 165 yards rushing and three touchdowns, including an 88-yard run to cap a 40-25 win for the Browns.
Since then, though, just about everything has changed. That is, except for Chubb.
He’s the league’s leading rusher with 1,408 yards on the ground, eight rushing touchdowns and averages just over five yards per carry. He’s posted more than 100 yards rushing in seven games and has been the Browns’ most consistent offensive weapon all season.
“He’s a talented running back for sure, that’s why he’s leading the league in rushing,” linebacker Josh Bynes said. “He’s versatile, he has good vision — he can see when somebody is not in their right gap and just finds a way to make a play. He’s having a hell of a year.”
Bynes, however, hasn’t seen Chubb this season. And a big reason why Bynes is a Raven is because of that Week 4 performance.
The Ravens allowed 40 points and three straight weeks of communication issues were enough to cause changes throughout the defense. Bynes and L.J. Fort were brought in, as was Domata Peko Sr., Justin Ellis, Jihad Ward and Marcus Peters to revamp a defense that needs a facelift.
Now, the new-look defense will get a second crack at defending Chubb.
“Nick hurt us badly in the first game,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They do a good job of scheming up the run game. But also, he’s really special. He’s really fast. He’s really big, and he can accelerate with the best of them. He’s a tackle-breaker. He has good one-cut ability, laterally, to make a guy miss, and he can lower his pads. So, I really do believe he’s one of the best backs in football.”
The defense didn’t have Brandon Williams that day, however, up the middle to aid with run help.
With Williams, and Michael Pierce up the middle this Sunday, the Ravens defense is hoping for a better result this time around.
“Every week on Saturdays, we do the goals (for the game),” defensive coordinator Don Martindale said with a grin. “They’re the FSU brothers. I can just tell you ‘up’ is the last word of that. Neither one of them went to Florida State. You can understand where we’re going with that."
The Browns, since Week 4, also have Kareem Hunt in the fold, too.
Hunt has 167 yards rushing in six games, but has been a big threat in the passing attack for the Browns and has registered 220 yards and a touchdown in those six games.
Though it’s hard for him to see reps with Chubb playing at the level he’s playing at, Hunt’s complementary style to Chubb makes the Browns tough to prepare for.
“Kareem Hunt complements him really well, very talented,” Harbaugh said of Cleveland’s backfield. “He’s another starting-level back. They’re a little different in their style, and they use them accordingly. So, we’ll have to have all hands on deck to stop those two guys.”
But if the Ravens want to slow down the Browns’ rushing attack, that starts and ends with slowing down the NFL’s top running back right now.
“He’s fast, he’s faster than what you would think,” Chuck Clark said bluntly. “He puts that foot in the ground and he gets upfield. (So) he’s fast, yeah.”
MORE RAVENS NEWS:
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.