Defense Takes a Step Back as Browns Lose High-Scoring Game Against the Chargers
The Browns came into the game facing questions about Baker Mayfield's shoulder injury and whether they could continue their defensive dominance.
The Chargers began on offense this game, and a quick three-and-out on the heels of a strong Browns defense gave the offense it's first chance to drive the field.
The Chargers lackluster 29th ranked run defense heading in to this game was exposed early by the Browns and their play-calling. They drove the field, utilizing the legs of RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
They settled for a 35-yard field goal from K Chase McLaughlin for an early 3-0 lead.
The Chargers relied heavily on the arm of second-year phenom, Justin Herbert. They picked the Browns' defense apart, often attacking short and intermediate passes.
Their defense got worn down enough for a 22-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to TE Donald Parham - the Chargers took a 7-3 lead to end the first quarter.
On their next drive Mayfield decided to dump it off for an easy touchdown to WR Rashard Higgins — the first touchdown pass to a receiver this season.
The Browns took the lead back — 10-7.
They couldn't hold it for very long, however. Thanks to a 72-yard bomb from Herbert to WR Mike Williams, the Chargers scored yet again for a 13-10 lead after a missed extra point.
Continuing the big offense by both teams, the Browns got the ball back and didn't skip a beat. A quick 41-yard pass to WR Donovan Peoples-Jones set the Browns up on the Chargers side of the field.
A drop from WR Odell Beckham Jr. on fourth down turned the ball over.
The Chargers' drive didn't last either. Thanks to a hard push by DL Malik McDowell, his sack on third down forced the Chargers to punt.
Chunk play after chunk play allowed the Browns to find themselves in scoring position again. In another fourth down situation, they trusted Hunt this time, as he ran in a three-yard touchdown. The Browns regained the lead, 17-13.
As the first half came to a close, sudden change caused by an Austin Ekeler fumble gave the Browns the ball back with less than 30 seconds before halftime. They couldn't score, but McLaughlin made another field goal to put the Browns up seven — 20-13.
The Browns started the second half on offense.
The train that is Nick Chubb chugged 52 yards and passed the Chargers defense for a touchdown, extending the lead to 27-13.
On their next drive, the Chargers were able to score after converting twice on fourth down — this time it was Herbert who ran in a nine-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion attempt was successful, bringing the Browns lead down to 27-21.
A punt on the next Browns drive gave the ball right back to Herbert and the Chargers.
Finishing the third quarter, the Chargers punted their drive away as well. The Browns followed suit with the same outcome — both defenses refused to budge.
Blowing coverage yet again, the Browns defense allowed another wide open touchdown pass to Williams. Forty-two yards later and after an extra point, the Chargers regained the lead, 28-27.
As if a light switch was flipped to turn defenses off, the Browns took no time to score on their next drive as well. This time, Mayfield passed to TE David Njoku, who broke a tackle for a 71-yard touchdown rumble. A two-point conversion shovel pass was good, giving the Browns the lead again, 35-28.
After a helpful (yet questionable) pass interference call on the Browns defense for the Chargers, they were able to be set in scoring position on their next drive. They scored off a four- yard Ekeler run. The game was tied at 35 apiece.
As they drove the field off the legs of their running backs, the Browns gave it to Hunt in scoring position, who ran in his second touchdown of the game. Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Browns were back on top, 42-35.
Another long drive and touchdown by the Chargers and Ekeler put them within one point of another tie. However, a missed extra point allowed the Browns to maintain their lead — 42-21.
The Browns were forced to punt on their next drive, and the Chargers took advantage and drove the field to score. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to convert on a two-point conversion. The score was 47-42 Chargers, and one last shot for Mayfield and the Browns to win the game.
After three straight incompletions, the Browns faced a 4th-and -0. A deep heave from Mayfield to the end zone was incomplete, and the Browns lost 47-42.
In a game with over 1,000 yards between both teams, defense was an afterthought.
Next week, they welcome in the undefeated Arizona Cardinals at home.
Player of the Game:
Justin Herbert: 26-43, 398 YDS, 4 TD