INGLEWOOD—After a seesaw game that produced highlight reel plays one after the other the Los Angeles Chargers produced a thrilling 47-42 victory to improve to 4-1 at SoFi stadium on Sunday, October 10 over the visiting Cleveland Browns. With 1:31 left in the fourth quarter Austin Ekeler scored the game winning TD.
The Chargers, led by second year phenomenon QB Justin Herbert have won three games in a row. It marks the third time in 2021, the Chargers rallied from behind to come out with a win. More importantly they are routinely finding a way to win close games after losing so many of these nail biters. It is an old sports cliché, but also true that good teams win close games.
The Cleveland Browns have the best ground attack in the NFL. Running Back Nick Chubb had 161 yards rushing and a touchdown. This game is a gigantic test for the Bolts, along with the Browns they are emerging as a new threat to win the AFC. The Browns made a field goal going up 3-0 in this epic showdown to start the scoring avalanche.
Donald Parham made a great catch from Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, then bullied his way, shaking defenders off like nothing for a 22-yard TD catch which made the score Chargers 7-3. This game was a track meet from beginning to end.
On the ensuing possession, Cleveland found the end zone on an eighth play drive. Brown’s QB Baker Mayfield rolled out and connected with Rashard Higgins for a touchdown putting them up 10-7. Moments later, Herbert quickly responded with a bomb to a wide open Mike Williams, who galloped 72 yards for a TD. Chargers led 13-10. It was Williams’ fifth touchdown reception of the season. Herbert went 26 for 43, 398 yards and 4 touchdowns, while Mike Williams had 8 receptions, 165 yards and two touchdowns.
Just before halftime the Cleveland Browns continued their bold streak which paid off. On 4th and goal with 54 seconds left in the second quarter, running back Kareem Hunt battled in for a 3-yard touchdown run, making the score17-13.
Ekeler made a costly turnover right before halftime putting Cleveland in the red zone. The Chargers with their backs up against the end zone refused to break, holding the Browns to a 31-yard field goal, 20-13 at halftime.
The Browns continued their offensive onslaught to open up the second half. Chubb made it seem effortless as he sped away from the Chargers for a 52-yard touchdown run. Los Angeles was on life support.
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is a breath of fresh air, a man not afraid to roll the dice. Willing to go for it on 4th down, defying field possession and logic. It’s working, so far so good. Kudos Coach Staley! It seems to be rubbing off on the team the confidence you feel in your players.
Again the Chargers would respond. In the red zone, Herbert threw caution to the wind as he made a juke move better suited for the basketball court as he waltzed into the end zone for a short TD run. The subsequent two point play was successful. Is there any wonder why there is such buzz for the young star from Oregon?
After back and forth possessions where the defenses held firm, Herber tossed a 42-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Mike Williams. He has shown flashes of brilliance before, but this season he has taken a quantum leap to become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
The Browns than took a 35-28 lead in the fourth quarter, tight end David Njoku scored on a 71-yard TD catch. On a key fourth and eight, the Chargers went for it proving Coach Brandon Staley is not afraid to go against conventional wisdom. Not a big surprise when the Chargers converted the fourth down.
The Chargers would respond with a short Ekeler touchdown run, tying the game at 35-35. Late in the fourth quarter, Kareem Hunt ran 12-yards for a touchdown making the score Browns 42-35.
With 3:15 remaining, Ekeler snatched a 19-yard screen pass for a touchdown. The extra point by Vizciano was so wide left, it almost hit the Forum joked the CBS announcers. The Chargers still trailed by a single point,42-41.
This set the stage for the dramatic ending where with just over a minute left the Browns literally pushed Ekeler into the end zone to conserve time. He did not want to score and it was surreal to watch this odd play. Nevertheless the Browns were stopped after one last Hail Mary and the Chargers escaped with a hard earned victory. The Chargers travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens on October 17. It will be a great test against an always stout defense.