Chargers defeat Browns after Cleveland misses late field-goal attempt

Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill (49) celebrates with teammates after stopping the Cleveland Browns.
Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill (49) celebrates with teammates after stopping the Cleveland Browns on a fourth down in the second half Sunday.
(David Richard / Associated Press)

Austin Ekeler scored two touchdowns as the Chargers escaped with a 30-28 win over the Cleveland Browns after Cade Knox missed a potential 54-yard game-winning field goal with 11 seconds left.

Chargers overcome Brandon Staley’s odd decision, win when Browns miss late field goal

CLEVELAND — There were 908 total yards, 53 first downs and five lead changes.

There also was a big decision, one that remains part of what Brandon Staley is all about — even when his Chargers’ failure is precious fuel to his howling critics.

With the game there to be won Sunday, Staley opted to go for a first down on a late fourth-down play near midfield. When Justin Herbert’s pass fell incomplete, Cleveland received a golden final chance.

Despite that play going wrong, the day ended up going right for the visitors when Browns kicker Cade York missed a 54-yard field-goal attempt wide right in the closing seconds, allowing the Chargers to escape 30-28.

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Chargers escape with 30-28 win after Browns’ Cade York misses 54-yard field goal

The Chargers escaped Cleveland with a 30-28 victory Sunday when Cade York’s 54-yard field goal with 11 seconds left went wide.

The Browns took over left after coach Brandon Staley’s aggressiveness on fourth down backfired on the Chargers.

They had fourth-and-one at their own 46-yard line with just over a minute to play. A conversion would have essentially ended the game.

But Justin Herbert’s pass to Mike Williams was incomplete, giving the Browns the ball and one final chance, a chance that sailed wide right.

The Chargers improved to 3-2 and play Denver at SoFi Stadium next Monday night.


Taylor Bertolet’s 27-yard field goal puts the Chargers back up 30-28

Taylor Bertolet kicked a 27-yard field goal to put the Chargers back up 30-28 with 9:29 left in regulation.

The Chargers’ drive stalled when a sliding Joshua Palmer was unable to hold on to a pass from Justin Herbert on third-and-seven. A completion would have given the Chargers a first down inside the two.

The lead change was the fifth of the game.


Browns regain lead with touchdown run by Kareem Hunt

Cleveland came back to retake the lead 28-27 on a two-yard touchdown run by Kareem Hunt with 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Browns went 75 yards in 11 plays as the lead changed hands for the fourth time on the day.

Cleveland converted one third down - third-and-five - on a nine-yard completion from Jacoby Brissett to David Njoku.


Chargers extend lead with Taylor Bertolet field goal

The Chargers extended their lead to 27-21 on a 25-yard field goal by Taylor Bertolet with 5:47 to go in the third quarter.

They drove inside the Cleveland five-yard line after having first-and-goal at the six. But a false start penalty on tight end Donald Parham Jr. helped stall the possession.

The Chargers took over after Cleveland failed to convert a fourth-and-one from its own 34-yard line. Defensive tackle Christian Covington broke through and tackled Kareem Hunt for a four-yard loss.

Immediately before the play, the Chargers called time out as they scrambled to get their preferred personnel grouping on the field. During the pause, Covington entered and replaced Jerry Tillery.


Austin Ekeler’s second touchdown of game puts Chargers back up

Austin Ekeler spun and sprinted his way into the end zone for a 22-yard scoring run to put the Chargers up 24-21 with 10:21 to go in the third quarter.

Ekeler is up to 138 yards rushing - a career high - on only nine carries. He has two touchdowns today and five over the past two games.

He also has eight career games with rushing and receiving touchdowns, the most in franchise history.


Browns take back lead with another touchdown from Nick Chubb

After holding Cleveland to consecutive three-and-outs, the Chargers’ defense was in full retreat again on the Browns’ fifth possession of the game.

Cleveland went 75 yards in six plays, with Nick Chubb scoring on a two-yard run to give the Browns a 21-17 lead with 2:55 left in the second quarter.

The Chargers appeared to hold on third-and-goal from their own four-yard line when Jacoby Brissett fired a pass incomplete into the end zone.

But defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day was called for roughing the passer to give Cleveland a first down. Chubb scored on the next play.


Chargers take lead with Austin Ekeler touchdown

After falling behind by two touchdowns early, the Chargers came back to take a 17-14 lead with 5:51 remaining in the first half.

Austin Ekeler scored on a 12-yard pass from Justin Herbert as the Chargers went 99 yards in 12 plays.

Ekeler has carried six times for 106 yards - including a gain of 71 yards - and has two receptions for 22 yards. He has four touchdowns over the past six quarters.

The Chargers lost right tackle Trey Pipkins III to an injury during the drive. He was replaced by Storm Norton.


Joshua Kelley scores first touchdown of season as Chargers only trail 14-10

Joshua Kelley scored his first touchdown of the season as the Chargers closed to within 14-10 with 13:39 left in the second quarter.

Kelley scored untouched from five yards out.

The touchdown was set up when Justin Herbert hit Mike Williams for a 38-yard gain on the final play of the first quarter. Williams went up over Denzel Ward to make the acrobatic catch.

Williams was briefly shaken up on the play but returned after just one snap later and made another reception for 10 yards.


Taylor Bertolet’s first career field goal put Chargers on the board

Taylor Bertolet’s first career field goal put the Chargers on the board, cutting their deficit to 14-3 with 2:26 left in the first quarter in Cleveland.

The Chargers’ offense stalled inside the five-yard line after Austin Ekeler’s 71-yard run put them in prime position.

But a Sony Michel run for no gain and two Justin Herbert incompletions halted the drive. Rookie left tackle Jamaree Salyer also committed a false start during the goal-to-go sequence.

Herbert has opened the game three of nine for 30 yards.


Browns already up 14-0 over Chargers

Cleveland moved right through the Chargers’ defense on its second possession, taking a 14-0 lead on a Jacoby Brissett 11-yard completion to Amari Cooper.

Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson was beaten on the touchdown pass.

The Browns have opened with 147 yards on their first 14 plays. They have eight first downs.

The Chargers’ first drive ended with a failed fourth-and-two from the Cleveland 28-yard line. Justin Herbert passed incomplete to Mike Williams on the play.


Browns strike first with Nick Chubb 41-yard touchdown run

Cleveland steamrolled the Chargers’ defense on the game’s opening series, Nick Chubb scoring on a 41-yard touchdown run.

The Browns went 75 yards in five plays as the Chargers struggled to close the gaps upfront and tackle.

Chubb carried three times for 56 yards. He had 161 yards against the Chargers in Week 5 last season, a game the Chargers won 47-42 at SoFi Stadium.


Receiver Mike Williams gives the Chargers stability, options

Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams runs with the ball after making a catch against the Houston Texans last week.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

CLEVELAND — His position coach noted his highlight-generating talent by saying he “makes these one-handed catches like he’s rebounding.”

His head coach praised his ability to “box out” defensive backs and said he’s “like a power forward … a three or four in the NBA.”

Mike Williams was a basketball player before he joined the Chargers, a high school standout in South Carolina, where, as a senior, his team went undefeated and won a state championship.

After moving on to Clemson, Williams had visions of continuing to play the sport while also pursuing his future in football.

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What’s wrong with Chargers’ offense? It’s practically running on empty

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler runs with the ball as wide receiver Mike Williams positions himself to make a block.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) runs with the ball as wide receiver Mike Williams positions himself to make a block during a win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 11.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

On Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushed for three yards against Kansas City.

Three yards. For the entire game.

Still, they’ve outgained the Chargers on the ground for the season.

Tampa Bay ranks 31st in the NFL with 261 rushing yards, three more than the league-worst Chargers.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Thursday that the running game has lacked consistency, something he explained can be fixed with better play-calling and better execution of those better play calls.

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NFL readers Q&A: Are Chargers’ Brandon Staley, Rams’ Sean McVay feeling heat?

Chargers coach Brandon Staley greets players before a win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 11.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Readers had a lot on their minds after the Rams’ and the Chargers’ recent games. Rams beat writer Gary Klein and Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller answered some questions:

How hot is Brandon Staley’s seat?

Anne Wile, Marina del Rey

Jeff Miller: Not hot at all, at the moment. Staley has been a head coach for 21 games and his teams are 11-10. Bill Belichick started his career 8-13 through 21 games. Under their current management, the Chargers haven’t been a team that makes midseason coaching changes, which is something to keep in mind if things go sour here quickly. More than Staley, I’d say general manager Tom Telesco’s seat will be heating up first if it comes to that.

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Taylor Bertolet to make NFL debut; Chargers inactives vs. Browns

Chargers kicker Dustin Hopkins won’t play today against Cleveland because of a quadriceps injury.

He’ll be replaced by Taylor Bertolet, who is set to make his NFL debut.

Bertolet, who turns 30 this month, has spent time with five other NFL teams, including the 2016 Rams. He kicked collegiately at Texas A&M at the same time quarterback Johnny Manziel was there.

The Chargers’ other inactives against the Browns: wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring), quarterback Easton Stick, running back Isaiah Spiller, safety JT Woods, tight end Richard Rodgers and defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia.

Wide receiver Joshua Palmer, who was questionable because of an ankle injury, will play.


Chargers vs. Browns matchups, start time, how to watch and prediction

Chargers coach Brandon Staley, left, talks with quarterback Justin Herbert.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley, left, talks with quarterback Justin Herbert before a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 25.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Chargers (2-2) and the Cleveland Browns (2-2) match up heading into their game at 10 a.m. PDT on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. The game will be shown on CBS and streamed on Paramount+ and NFL+.

When Chargers have the ball: Quarterback Justin Herbert looked decidedly more comfortable and confident last weekend in his second game playing with fractured rib cartilage, an injury that is expected to linger for weeks. This was an encouraging sign as the Chargers beat overmatched Houston 34-24. Also encouraging has been Herbert’s recent showing on the road — encouraging and perhaps historic.

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Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns: Betting odds, lines and picks against the spread

The Chargers (2-2) could well be facing a 4-0 Browns team this week, but Cleveland is a town well-versed in losing. The Browns found ways to lose winnable games against the Jets and Falcons and hit the meat of their schedule wishing that they had more margin for error. Last season, the Chargers fell seconds short of a playoff berth.

Therefore, there will be a heightened sense of urgency and a little more passion coming from the Dawg Pound. It sure would help if Keenan Allen could get back on the field, but the hamstring injury is lingering and Justin Herbert’s top target remains day to day.

Chargers (-2½, 47½) at Cleveland Browns

Last week’s game against the Texans was a big one for Herbert and the offense. After being stifled by the Jaguars with an injured Herbert on the field, the Chargers matched their scoring output of the previous two games combined with 34 points, including 27 in the first half. Los Angeles eased off in the second half but still managed 419 yards of offense, including 338 through the air. Herbert was sacked only once and Austin Ekeler scored two rushing touchdowns.

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