This was a game that was there for the taking. Although the Chargers dominated the game on offense (not having to punt until the fourth quarter), they kept settling for field goals. A good game by DeShone Kizer might have gotten it done. Instead, we watched him overthrow receivers and fumble away a late opportunity, as Cleveland dropped to 0-12 on the year with a 19-10 loss.
It didn’t take long for the Browns to get WR Josh Gordon involved, as the team completed a 9-yard pass to him to open the game. Their first drive got down to the 39 yard line before head coach Hue Jackson opted to punt, pinning the Chargers back at the 4 yard line.
Cleveland’s defense couldn’t stop the Chargers from methodically driving down the field at will. Philip Rivers finally threw an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-2 from the 20 yard line, so the Chargers sent K Travis Coons out for a field goal, which he boinked off the right upright from 38 yards out (no good) to keep the game scoreless.
A couple of penalties helped the Browns get into scoring range on their second drive of the game, now in the second quarter. On 4th-and-1 from the 35 yard line, Jackson decided to go for it, handing the ball off to RB Duke Johnson. The Chargers were ready, though, and shot through to hit Johnson for a loss and a turnover on downs.
Los Angeles drove down the field, and on 3rd-and-goal from the 3 yard line, CB Jason McCourty punched the ball out of WR Keenan Allen’s hands for an incomplete pass. This time, Coons hit from 21 yards out to give the Chargers a 3-0 lead. Cleveland had a quick three-and-out, and the Chargers drove down the field quickly again. Just like their other drives, it stalled abruptly, leading to a 40-yard field goal by Coons to put the Chargers up 6-0.
On their next drive, facing a third down, Gordon made a great 28-yard catch just outside of two minutes to play to put Cleveland in field goal range.
Two plays later, Kizer drilled TE David Njoku up the seam for a 28-yard touchdown pass! The extra point by K Zane Gonzalez was good, giving Cleveland a 7-6 lead with 1:55 to play in the first half.
The lead didn’t last long, as Rivers took the Chargers downfield again. Like all the other drives in the half, though, the defense prevented a touchdown — with only 0:04 left in the half, the Chargers kicked a 22 yard field goal to go up 9-7.
Surprise! To start the second half, the Chargers drove right into Browns territory again. This time, they went for it on 4th-and-4 just beyond field goal range, and Rivers found Allen down the right sideline to set up a goal-to-go situation. A few plays later, on 3rd-and-goal, Allen shook McCourty and caught a 7-yard touchdown pass up the seam to give the Chargers their first multi-possession lead of the day at 16-7.
On Cleveland’s next drive, Kizer had a shot at Gordon deep out of a trick alignment, as the 26-year old receiver blew by his man. The pass was underthrown, though, allowing the defender to catch up and defend the pass. A few plays later, the Browns had to punt. Sounding like a broken record, the Chargers didn’t take long to get right back into Cleveland territory and then the red zone. The Chargers had to settle for a 27-yard field goal, keeping it a 19-7 game just before the end of the third quarter.
The Browns put together one of their lengthier drives of the game, but it stalled after three incomplete passes from the 17 yard line. Despite the outcome still having them down two possessions, Jackson opted to kick the 35-yard field goal with just over 12 minutes to play, making it a 19-10 game.
After a short kickoff, the kickoff itself was returned all the way to midfield. On fourth down from the 35 yard line, the Chargers decided to punt, and the ball was pinned down at the 4 yard line. Despite that, Cleveland drove all the way down to the 6 yard line. A holding penalty set them back. On 3rd-and-goal from the 15, with under five minutes to play, Kizer was stripped from behind by DE Joey Bosa, and the Chargers recovered.
Cleveland forced a punt, but not before burning their remaining timeouts. Just before the two-minute warning, Kizer found Gordon for 39 yards. Kizer’s poor play continued -- he rolled out and took a sack instead of throwing it away, wasting 40 second of game clock. On the next play, he just threw a blind pick over the middle for an easy interception, sealing the game.
- QB DeShone Kizer: 15-of-32 for 215 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. 5 rushes, 46 yards, 1 fumble.
- RB Isaiah Crowell: 10 carries, 41 yards (4.1 YPC). 1 catch, 3 yards (1 target).
- RB Duke Johnson: 6 carries, 1 yard (0.2 YPC). 2 catches, 10 yards (4 targets).
- WR Josh Gordon: 4 catches, 85 yards (11 targets).
- WR Corey Coleman: 0 catches (4 targets).
- TE David Njoku: 4 catches, 74 yards (6 targets). 1 TD.