Takeaways after Chargers survive errors and late run by Cleveland

Chargers receiver Keenan Allen tweeted it best, “WTF are we doing?” when his offense couldn’t convert on fourth-and-two and two on their 46-yard line and handed the ball back to the Browns with 1:13 left in the game.

Luckily for the Chargers organization, the defense was able to hold the Browns to a 54-yard field goal by Cade York that was missed toward the right. Chargers escaped embarrassment and got out of Cleveland with a 30-28 victory.

Allen didn’t play in his fourth straight game due to a lingering hamstring issue, but his tweet resonates even if the Chargers did win. Why go for it in such a dangerous spot?

“We were coming out here on the road to win this game, not kick it and then go hope to win,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley explained. “I believed our defense would get a stop if we didn’t make it because I knew that we could cover them. You got to live with it when it doesn’t go down. We went for it on the first drive, and it didn’t go down, and we’re willing to live with that. But we know what that means to our group and playing that way. There’s no way I was taking offense off the field at the end of the game.”

Here are some takeaways from the victory.

  • The run game is alive!

The Chargers came in rushing the ball at an NFL worst 64.5 yards a game. Well, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi came in with a clear plan, run the football. It wasn’t a solo act from Austin Ekeler like last week in Houston, Joshua Kelley was heavily involved.

Ekeler did run the football 16 times for a career-high 173 yards and one touchdown, plus added four catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. That is five touchdowns scored by the running back in the last two weeks after scoring none in the first three games. Kelley added 12 combined touches for 82 yards and his first touchdown since 2020.

They ran the ball 34 times as a team for 238 yards and two touchdowns. They beat the Browns at their own game, outrushing them by 25 yards. An impressive day by the running backs, but the guys in front of them deserve credit.

  • Offensive line looked strong.

Coming into Sunday’s game, the worry for quarterback Justin Herbert and the offensive line was having to face Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett. One of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL.

Jamaree Salyer and Trey Pipkins held their own on Sunday. Herbert was only sacked once, and it wasn’t by either one of them. The Chargers quarterback has only been sacked five times this season, which is an NFL low.

The offensive line also gave him plenty of time to orchestrate while they opened holes for the running game. The Chargers had 465 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns thanks to the offensive line.

  • Bolts need to be better in the red zone

Chargers went 2 for 5 in the red zone, which will not be enough when they face tougher competition later in the season. They need to be more creative, but this may change when they get Allen back.

  • Defense comes up clutch

The Chargers defense didn’t have the best game, but in the end, they pulled out the victory. After the offense couldn’t get a touchdown on their second-to-last drive, the defense let Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett drive 73-yards to the L.A. 17-yard line.

Brissett rolled right and had an open lane to run but saw receiver Amari Cooper open in the end zone and threw it right into the hands of a waiting Alohi Gilman to stop the Browns from taking the lead.

After the failed 4th down play, the Chargers defense was able to hold the Browns to attempt a 54-yard field goal that ultimately was wide right. So while it did give up four touchdowns and 443 yards of offense, they came up clutch.

  • Mike Williams is playing like a top receiver in the NFL

Chargers receiver Mike Williams has 100-yards in the last five road games dating back to last season. On Sunday against Cleveland, he had ten catches for 134 yards and made big play after big play.

Williams is starting to show number one receiver potential and continues to grow. Yes, at home he has three catches for 25 yards and one touchdown, but road games after tougher. He has 25 catches for 367 yards and one touchdown in three road games this season.

“He’s a competitor, and the game changes when he’s out there,” Herbert said about Williams. “Third down, you got to be alert for him because something big is going to happen.”

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