What was that? That’s all I can think of to say.
It ended as a 30-28 road win for the Los Angeles Chargers in Cleveland in a game that saw both teams put up token resistance instead of defense. The game had five lead changes, but in the end, it was more like the teams were trying to lose the game than win it.
Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett had one of the dumbest decisions of the week with under three minutes to play throwing an interception at the goal line. Jacoby, you only needed a field goal! What were you doing? I watched the replay multiple times, even if Alohi Gilman doesn’t pick it off, JC Jackson is trailing behind Amari Cooper (no relation) in the end zone. He might intercept it or knock it down. Brissett could have run for a few yards, or thrown it away. Instead, it was a pick.
I don’t chalk this one as much as a Chargers win as a Browns loss. The Chargers ran for 238 yards. They came into the game with the worst running game in the league. How bad was that? The Browns traded for Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones after the game.
The Chargers will take it though. Wins the NFL are hard to get and being 3-2 is way better than 2-3 today. The Chiefs play the Raiders tonight on Monday Night Football in a big division game. Meanwhile, Broncos Country is riding nowhere and that’s who the Chargers play this upcoming Monday. You should never peek ahead at the schedule, but the Chargers could get Keenan Allen back and start stacking some wins.
Why Browns Why?
It’s a pass-happy NFL, but when teams show up and commit to running the football, they can have success. Why is that? Mainly, it’s because team’s base defenses are usually nickel packages with five defensive backs.
The Browns gashed the Chargers early, by basically bringing in an extra offensive lineman and just blowing them off the ball. It’s troubling to see the Chargers give up so many big plays on the ground. Remember, that happened against Jacksonville and Houston too. It’s officially an issue.
Sure, losing Joey Bosa is bad, but I don’t really think of him as a run-stuffer. Sebastian Joseph-Day and Christian Covington have to do a better job on the run for Los Angeles. But we do have to applaud Covington for making the big stop on fourth-and-one for Cleveland in the third quarter.
Other than that, Nick Chubb ran for 134 yards.
You know what gets me though, the Browns are running the ball so well, it’s 24-21 Chargers and the Browns get the ball back, so what does Cleveland do? They come out 5-wide and throw an incomplete pass. Read the room, guys. You can win a game running the ball too.
Why Chargers Why?
The whole final three minutes of this game wasn’t just bananas, it was a whole fruit cup.
You have the Brissett bizarre decision down at the goal line. So now the Chargers need two first downs basically to ice the game.
Nothing makes me happier than when a team is in this position, and they play to win the game (sorry Herm). Throw the ball. Don’t just run it three times and punt. The Chiefs do this all the time.
And the Chargers did. Justin Herbert to Mike Williams for a good gain.
Then it’s fourth-and-2, Browns are out of timeouts. Ball at Chargers 45. Chargers line up to go for it, try to draw Cleveland offsides. No soap. They call a timeout. Then they run a play, a quick slant to Williams, incomplete.
Cleveland gets the ball back.
I get analytics. I understand, but was the percentage really higher to throw that ball then have the Browns drive the field with no timeouts left for a field goal? Maybe.
If Cade York had made that 54-yard field goal, Chargers coach Brandon Stokely’s decision would have been the story.
The Good News
Lots of good things to come out of this game for LA. Justin Herbert looked healthier. Man, the way he moves in the pocket is brilliant. Not so much the running, but just stepping up, stepping left and right to buy time.
No Dustin Hopkins as kicker? No worries. Taylor Bertolet made three short field goals after being signed on Thursday. The Texas A&M grad may have just booked his NFL future.
The Chargers offensive line is starting two rookies and hasn’t missed a beat. I got nervous when Trey Pipkins III got hurt in the second quarter, but he came back in to start the second half.
Josh Kelley has officially beaten out Sony Michel for the second running back spot. He looks fast and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is a difference. I wonder if Michel will want to go somewhere else.
Defensively? Not the best game in the world for the Chargers. Khalil Mack was nowhere, just two tackles. The Browns controlled the line of scrimmage. Derwin James was Ok, but that was about it.
Win and advance.
Did You Notice?
In pre-game, there were midges (tiny mosquitos) all over the field. Some got on the main CBS camera in the second half.
“Brownie the Elf” at midfield is quite a look for Cleveland. I dig it. Have some fun. The Browns notoriously don’t have a real logo and have the only decal-less helmets in the NFL.
Was that pink trim on the word Browns in the end zone for breast cancer awareness month?
Crazy play midway through the second quarter, a quick swing pass to Kelley, Ekeler with an obvious peelback or “blindside” block on Browns linebacker Jacob Phillips. The Browns bench got really upset and John Johnson III drew a penalty for chirping with the official. I don’t know how the Chargers got away with that one.
Horrendous call on Joseph-Day on a ‘late hit’ on Brissett in the second quarter.
Browns tight end David Njoku is a bad, bad man. Put him in the Pro Bowl.
All Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney did all day was try to speed rush wide on the Chargers tackles. It never worked.
Announcers, please use the term “running downhill’ appropriately. An NFL field doesn’t have a slope. Back in the day, fields used to have crowns (higher in the middle and tapered on the sidelines) and when college teams ran the option pitch wide, the running backs had an advantage because they were….wait for it…running downhill, running down the slope. Running up the middle isn’t running downhill.