Brandon Staley: Browns were smart, we didn’t think they could pull Austin Ekeler into the end zone

LA Chargers defeat the Cleveland Browns 47-42
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A strange situation unfolded late in the Chargers’ win over the Browns on Sunday: Trailing 42-41, the Chargers had first-and-goal with 1:31 remaining in the game and the Browns were out of timeouts, so the Chargers decided to simply run out the clock until they could kick the game-winning field goal as time expired. Unfortunately, Chargers running back Austin Ekeler scored a touchdown that he didn’t want to score.

That happened because the Browns’ defense dragged Ekeler into the end zone when he was trying to stop on the 1-yard line. That gave the Chargers a 47-42 lead, but it also gave the Browns the ball back with plenty of time to potentially drive down the field for a touchdown of their own. Although the Chargers held on to win, Chargers coach Brandon Staley admitted the game that things didn’t go according to plan.

“That’s one of those situations where we instructed him not to go into the end zone, and he did a great job of stepping up and giving himself up before the end zone. The Browns grabbed him and brought him into the end zone,” Staley said. “That’s a smart play by them. That’s something that we have to talk about and continue to develop so that we can be better on that in the future.”

Staley said he thought that once Ekeler attempted to give himself up, the play should have ended because Ekeler had stopped his own forward progress. Staley admitted he didn’t realize the Browns could keep the play going by pushing Ekeler into the end zone.

“I have to get a ruling there. It was my interpretation you can’t be pulled in. You can see that Austin’s clearly trying to go down,” Staley said. “I feel like I need to get an interpretation on that. I certainly did not want to go in on that one.”

Staley acknowledged that perhaps he should have just called for quarterback Justin Herbert to kneel down.

“We were trying to finish the ball game without any time left,” Staley said. “That’s just not the way it happened.”

10 responses to “Brandon Staley: Browns were smart, we didn’t think they could pull Austin Ekeler into the end zone

  1. When I watched that play develop I thought the Chargers were over complicating the situation. Take a knee because the Browns were out of tome outs and Chargers were going to keep a FG anyways. Who cares if you are at the 3 or 5 yard line. Some of thai coaches struggle with game management.

  2. I watched that game ending and in no way was Ekeler “clearly” trying to go down. Why not just take a knee then? He was upright enough, and not stopped long enough for a ref to consider forward progress stopped. Staley has been one of the better young coaches so far this year but that was a boneheaded play call that could have cost them the game.

  3. I had a horrible week in fantasy football. My QB is Russell Wilson. I started Cordarrelle Patterson instead of Antonio Brown and also lost Clyde Edwards-Helaire to injury early in the game. This gave me a win by 3.5 points. Being a Steeler fan it’s hard to say anything nice about the Browns, but thank you Browns!

  4. Yeah I would like to “get a ruling” on that 33-yard pass interference on 4th down that kept you in the game. It was “my interpretation” that a receiver can’t grab a DB with a handful of jersey and get the penalty called on the defense.

    Call it what it was: a poorly officiated game all around. Crybaby.

  5. Then it opens the door for backs to pretend that they are giving themselves up and take off running. It is not the ref’s responsibility to know situational football and the intention of the specific play. The QB should have taken a knee which is the obvious way to declare down and the play is over.

  6. I’ve never seen a team give the ball to a running back and ask him not to gain any yardage. This situation has come up hundreds of times in the history of football and the quarterback takes a knee every time. What amazes me is that the Browns were prepared for this situation and carried him into the end zone. Staley got lucky they still won.

  7. I have no idea why the Chargers didn’t line up in victory formation, take a knee, and kill the clock until there were just a few ticks left. That seemed like a no-brainer.

  8. It is ironic that the most heads up play by the Browns’ defense resulted in a Charger touchdown.

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