By Tim Peterson
(Inglewood) – Austin Ekeler scored on a three-yard run with 1:31 left in the fourth quarter to lift the Chargers to a 47-42 win over Cleveland Sunday at a sold out SoFi Stadium.
In a game that had seven lead changes and over 1000 total yards combined between the two teams the Chargers were the last team standing. There were six touchdowns scored in the fourth quarter alone.
The Browns got the ball back with one last shot to win but they were out of time outs and couldn’t convert.
The Browns drew first blood on a 35-yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin on their first drive.
The Chargers responded with a 10-play, 85-yard drive. Justin Herbert hit Donald Parham Jr. on a 22-yard touchdown pass to give LA a 7-3 lead with 2:44 left in the first quarter.
The Browns answered with an 8-play, 72 yard drive that finished on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to Rashard Higgins as Cleveland regained the advantage 10-7 with 12:46 left in the second quarter.
The Chargers wasted no time in grabbing the lead right back. Herbert connected with a wide open Mike Williams over the middle on a 72-yard bomb. Williams danced into the end zone for a 13-10 lead. The extra point was missed.
Cleveland took advantage of good field position after holding the Chargers deep in their own end. After taking over at their own 47 the Browns drove 53 yards on 11 plays capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Kareem Hunt with 54 seconds left in the half.
On the next possession Ekeler fumbled after a reception and the Browns recovered with 38 seconds left.
They were stopped at the 13 yard line but McLaughlin kicked a 31-yard field goal to close out the half with the Browns up 20-13.
Nick Chubb got loose for a 52-yard touchdown run to open the third quarter. The Browns took a 27-13 lead with 12:18 left.
The Chargers took the punch and landed one of their own marching 84 yards on 14 plays. Herbert did it himself on a 9-yard run for the score. Herbert then connected with Parham Jr. for a two point conversion to cut the Cleveland lead to 27-21 with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
The Chargers struck again early in the fourth quarter when Herbert again connected with a wide open Williams for a 42-yard touchdown pass and just like that LA was back in front 28-27 with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter.
The Browns responded less than a minute later when David Njoku hauled in a pass from Mayfield, broke a tackle and raced 71 yards for a touchdown. A two point under-handed scoop pass by Mayfield to Austin Hooper for the two point conversion gave the Browns a 35-28 lead with 10:40 left.
On the next possession the Chargers went 75 yards on 11 plays. Ekeler plowed in from 4 yards out to tie it at 35 with 7:24 left.
Hunt capped a 75-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run on the following series to put Cleveland up again. With 4:45 remaining the Browns led 42-35.
The Chargers scored again on a 19-yard TD strike from Herbert to Ekeler but Tristan Vizcaino missed the extra point leaving LA down one.
The Charger defense rose up and Cleveland was forced to punt on its next possession and the Chargers took over at the Browns 48 with 2:02 left.
LA took advantage as Ekeler scored on the 3-yard run but his run on a 2 point conversion came up short after a review. The Chargers took a 47-42 lead with 1:31 left.
The Chargers held the Browns on the final possession to escape with the win.
The numbers were big on both sides as the two teams combined 1,041 yards. For the Chargers Herbert completed 26 of 43 for 398 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. He also had the rushing touchdown. Williams had 8 catches for 165 yards and two scores. Ekeler had five catches for 53 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Mayfield was 23 of 32 for 305 yards and two touchdowns for Cleveland. His main target was Njoku who grabbed 7 passes for 149 yards and the long touchdown. The Browns rushed for 230 yards with Chubb leading the way with 161 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Hunt had 12 carries for 61 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Chargers improved to 4-1 on the year while the Browns fell to 3-2.