CLEVELAND — Browns left guard Joel Bitonio gripped the game ball as if were just awarded to him in the team’s locker room after their 26-18 victory Sunday over division rival Cincinnati Bengals.

But it was going to someone far more important in the minds of the team’s offensive linemen. Offensive line coach Bob Wylie suffered a “gruesome” broken ankle Thursday, as described by some players, and underwent surgery. While the Browns pounced on the Bengals, Wylie remained at University Hospitals.

Center JC Tretter drove left guard Joel Bitonio, right guard Kevin Zeitler and rookie reserve Austin Corbett from FirstEnergy Stadium after the game to present the ball to Wylie, who the team rallied around for arguably one of their best performances of the year.

“Bob means a lot to all of us. The O-line room is always a really tight-knit group both coaches and players. So when you lose one of your brothers, it's tough,” Tretter said. “So we feel bad. But we're with him. He knows he's with us in spirit, and we're with him in spirit.”

Bitonio agreed.

“We said last night we were going to try to win this one for him and get a game ball for him,” he said.

The offensive line led the way to a 146-yard rushing day for 5.2 yards per carry on 28 carries with rookie running back Nick Chubb getting the lion’s share of the work. Chubb gained 112 yards on 19 carries for 5.9 yards per attempt. It was Chubb's fourth 100-yard game of the season and his second in a row, the first Browns running back to do so since Trent Richardson.

In the process, he wrote himself into the team’s record books, passing Richardson’s rookie record (950 yards) from the 2012 season and Jim Brown's 942 yards from 1957 on the same day. He ended the game with 972 yards for the season. He has reached the mark in just nine games as the team’s featured back after the Browns traded Carlos Hyde prior to their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Someone came and told me, but it was not really on my mind,” Chubb said of the record. “It comes with having great play from everyone on the field. Guys start breaking records and doing great things as a team. It is a team effort, and I think we do a great job of blocking up front and opening up holes for me to achieve these goals.”

Passing Brown seemed to humble the 5-foot-11, 227-pound rookie.

“To be in the same sentence as him, to be in the same breath, the all-time great Brown, I don’t know what to say,” Chubb said. “I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but it’s great.”

Bitonio gave Chubb much of the credit for the day’s success.

“He’s a heck of a running back. Great person, too. He keeps his head down, very quiet,” he said. “He runs so hard, makes people miss. If you don’t make the perfect block, if you don’t get your hand on him, he’s going to break that tackle. It’s been real fun to have that guy in the backfield.”

Tretter agreed.

“Chubb's been doing a hell of a job for us, and we're going to just keep it going,” he said. “We're going to get him to 1,000 [yards next week] and just keep everything rolling.”

Chubb is just 28 yards from notching his first 1,000-yard season and would be the first Browns running back to reach the coveted mark since 2010 when Peyton Hillis ran for 1,177 yards.

With the Browns taking on the Baltimore Ravens next week, the third-ranked rushing defense in the league, nothing can be taken for granted.

“We'll see. We've still got to get it. We don't want to jinx anything,” Bitonio said.

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com.  Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas.