Instant Analysis: Chargers 30, Browns 27

Keenan Allen cropped

Two-Minute drill

After the Browns scored a touchdown and tied the score at 27-27 on a two-point conversion with less than three minutes remaining, Philip Rivers engineered a perfect two-minute drive to set up a 34-yard Josh Lambo field goal that sealed a 30-27 win at the end of regulation. The game nearly went to overtime. Lambo actually missed from 39-yards out but the Browns were called for offsides. The Chargers were awarded a five-yard penalty and Lambo made his second chance count. It was the rookie kicker’s third field goal of the day, and it was also his first game winner. He’ll remember that one.

“Thankfully I had a second chance,” Lambo said. “I had some grace with the second kick. I messed up the first time, but I wasn’t going to allow it to happen a second (time).”

Lambo is now 7 for 8 on the season.

 

Makeshift O-Line? No problem

This game could have gone a lot worse with three down offensive linemen. Instead, the backups stepped up and did their job. Chris Hairston started for King Dunlap at left tackle, Kenny Wiggins for Orlando Franklin at left guard, and Trevor Robinson at center for Chris Watt. The offense totaled 438 yards on the day, and Rivers was only sacked twice. However, both sacks weren’t necessarily the line’s fault. Melvin Gordon missed a block on the first, and the second was arguably a coverage sack. Rivers completed passes to eight different receivers, throwing for 358 yards, three touchdowns, and for the first time this season, had no turnovers. It was the quarterback’s’ 148th straight start, which tied Russ Washington’s franchise record,  and his 40th career three-touchdown game. Sunday also marked Rivers’ first game without an interception since November 16th against Oakland last season, a span of nine games. . Against the league’s worst rushing defense, Gordon ran just 12 times for 38 yards, and Woodhead finished with eight rushes for 54 yards. The Chargers never trailed by more than three points in this game, leaving us all to wonder why Rivers dropped back on 38 attempts. Whatever,  a win’s a win and the line did its job.

“I can’t say enough about the offensive line,” Rivers said. “They were awesome.”

 

Sacks!

After notching just one sack in the first three games, and none since week 1, the Chargers sacked Josh McCown four times on Sunday. Melvin Ingram, whose potential seems to be a weekly discussion, had 1.5 in the first half (Weddle was credited with other half), one of which was also a strip.  The ball bounced out a good 10 yards near the sideline. Ingram stayed in pursuit and recovered the ball. Another member of the “potential” club, Jerry Attaochu, recorded his first sack of the season at the end of the second quarter. More importantly, though, was his second sack in the fourth quarter, which went for a 12-yard loss, putting the Browns in a tough third and twenty at San Diego’s 37-yard line. Cleveland settled for a field goal. It probably was the play of the game.

“Jerry just has that knack for getting to the quarterback,” Manti Te’o said. “He is one of my closest friends on the team and I see the work he puts in, the focus that he has during the week and it all pays off on Sundays. You can always expect #97 to be around the quarterback, whether he is getting the sack or the QB pressure.”

It was both Attaochu and Ingram’s first-career-multi-sack game.

 

More injuries

Cornerback Jason Verrett was “active” for the game but did not suit up. That left the Chargers with 45 available players Sunday. That number continued to drop. Malcom Floyd left the game in the first half with a concussion. Stevie Johnson later joined him on the sideline with a hamstring injury, leaving the Chargers down to just two wide receivers, Keenan Allen and Dontrelle Inman. Jacoby Jones was again inactive with a high ankle sprain. On the other side of the ball, it was a similar script. Brandon Flowers left the game in third quarter with a concussion, leaving the Chargers down to just two cornerbacks, like last week against Minnesota, in Steve Williams and Patrick Robinson.

“A huge win for us, overcoming all the adversity,” Mike McCoy said.

 

Play with a lead:

The Chargers ended the firs quarter in unfamiliar territory. They were ahead. It was the first time since week 12 of last season that San Diego led after one period of play. The 7-3 score was highlighted by a beautifully thrown 28-yard pass from Philip Rivers to a diving Keenan Allen down the sideline in the end zone. Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long. The Browns scored just 50 seconds in to the second quarter on a 34-yard touchdown reception by Duke Johnson. The score was tied at the half but San Diego scored a touchdown later in the third quarter to make it two winning period before the last second field goal sealed the win in the fourth quarter.

“I think it’s going to build our confidence,” Keenan Allen said. “We already had confidence but getting the win after two straight losses and then having a Monday night game at home next week, we should definitely be feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

 

–Andrew Burer (@andrewburer)

 

What did you think of the Chargers win? Let us know in the comments below. 

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