Things started out rough, although the Browns kept pinning the Chargers inside their own 10-yard line. But they were unable to take advantage of positive field position after getting a couple stops. Eventually, Melvin Gordon and the Chargers’ run game blew through the Browns defense, finishing with 246 yards and 6.8 yards per carry—however, that number was higher before the Chargers went into conservative clock-killing mode.
Things got off to a rough start for Cleveland, as the Chargers marched down the field easily on their first possession. After a big punt return to their own 43-yard line, Gordon almost single-handedly moved his team down the field before plowing through Denzel Ward for the game’s first points.
The Browns started three consecutive drives with good field position, from their own 46, and the Chargers’ 39- and 33- yard lines. However sacks, penalties, and missed opportunities limited them to just three points.
Antonio Callaway had a would-be touchdown fall through his arms. It looked like he gave up on the route or hesitated for a second and wasn’t able to reel it in. The Browns punted.
Must have thrown it to Antonio Callaway. https://t.co/m2kV7uM12U— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) October 14, 2018
After forcing a punt, Cleveland started at the Chargers’ 33, then dialed up a flea flicker that should have ended in a touchdown. Damion Ratley got loose and was slow to attempt the catch in the end zone. The ball sailed past his outstretched arms and fell incomplete. Greg Joseph knocked in a 33-yarder a few plays later to cut the Chargers’ lead to 7-3.
Rivers did some Rivers things on ensuing back-to-back possessions, finding Tyrell Williams for three big plays, including two touchdowns.
The Browns started with just 45 seconds to play in the half, but they drove to the Chargers’ 10-yard line. After two incompletions into the end zone, they had to settle for another Greg Joseph field goal.
Despite dominating the time of possession battle with over 20 minutes of ball control, the Browns limped into the half trailing 21-6.
The Chargers’ first drive of the second half opened with big runs by Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon before penalties put them in a 3rd-and-long. Joe Schobert recorded the Browns’ first sack of the game to force a Chargers punt.
Peppers fumbled the ensuing punt badly—it actually bounced off his chest and went five yards forward—but he desperately dove onto it before the Chargers’ coverage team was able to recover.
But on the Browns’ first play, Desmond King undercut Jarvis Landry, resulting in an interception that was returned to the Browns’ 10-yard line.
Gordon didn’t waste any time, taking a pitch to the house to put the Chargers ahead 28-6.
The Browns went three-and-out on their next possession, followed by a gut-wrenching 11-play, 81-yard Chargers touchdown drive that put them ahead 35-6 and quashed any hopes of a Browns comeback.
Gordon’s touchdown run with 3:12 to play in the third quarter was his third of the game, the most in one week for his career.
After exchanging punts, the Browns took over at the Chargers’ 42-yard line. Mayfield found Ratley at the 1-yard line before connecting with tight end David Njoku three players later for a touchdown. Callaway caught a two-point conversion in the back of the end zone to stop the bleeding, bringing the Browns within 21 points.
The Chargers answered with a clock-chewing drive, moving the ball 64 yards without a throwing a pass. But on 3rd-and-goal, Rivers targeted Gordon on a slant that popped up in the air and was intercepted by Christian Kirksey. An unsportsmanlike penalty on Trevon Coley moved the Browns back to the 4-yard line.
Duke Johnson’s hard run got the Browns out of their goal-line’s shadow, but Mayfield was intercepted for the second time on the next play.
After running some clock, the Chargers added another field goal to take a 38-14 lead with 4:15 to play.
The Browns drove but were unable to convert on a fourth down, and then the Chargers ran the clock out.
Cleveland travels to Tampa Bay to take on the struggling Buccaneers in Week 7.