The Browns and Chargers played one of the most entertaining games of the year in Week Five, with Los Angeles outlasting Cleveland for a 47-42 victory.
The Browns went into halftime up 20-13 and built a 27-13 lead with running back Nick Chubb’s 52-yard touchdown to start the third quarter. But the Chargers stayed aggressive, converting all three of their fourth-down attempts — including one from their own 24-yard line — and converted a two-point play to get back in the game.
But when the Chargers had a chance to tie it at 42, kicker Tristan Vizcaino missed his second extra point of the game.
That gave Cleveland an opportunity to ice the game with its four-minute offense and 3:08 on the clock. The Browns couldn’t do it. They punted after going three-and-out, with the Chargers taking over at the Cleveland 48 with two timeouts and 2:02 on the clock.
A 30-yard reception by tight end Jared Cook put Los Angeles in scoring position. So with time running down and the Browns with no timeouts, Cleveland’s defense pulled a unique move and pushed running back Austin Ekeler into the end zone for a go-ahead, 3-yard touchdown. It was Cleveland’s best choice of a few bad options, since the Browns had no other way to stop the clock and get the ball back.
The strategy didn’t end up leading to a score, but it at least gave Cleveland a chance. Quarterback Baker Mayfield’s deep pass on fourth-and-10 from his team’s 46 with 10 seconds left fell incomplete in the end zone. There were a few Cleveland receivers on the ground, but there were no flags.
Justin Herbert had another outstanding game, going 26-of-43 passing for 398 yards and four touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown. Mike Williams caught eight passes for 165 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Austin Ekeler had over 100 yards from scrimmage, too, picking up 66 yards rushing and 53 receiving with three total TDs.
The Browns netted 531 total yards in the losing performance, including 230 on the ground. Nick Chubb — who was not on the field for Cleveland’s critical drive at the three-minute mark — finished with 161 yards 21 carries. Kareem Hunt also had 61 yards rushing with a pair of touchdowns, along with five catches for 28 yards.
After a poor performance against the Vikings, Baker Mayfield bounced back by finishing 23-of-32 for 305 yards with a pair of TDs. Tight end David Njoku shattered his career-high with 149 yards receiving, including a 71-yard touchdown.
Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught two of his three targets for 20 yards, his one miss a fourth-down drop in the first half.
Now at 4-1, the Chargers will travel Baltimore to take on the Ravens in Week Six.
At 3-2, Cleveland comes home to face the league’s lone remaining undefeated team in the Cardinals.
But if the Chargers and Browns both look like teams who could meet again in January.