Michael Badgley kicked off to start the game. Baker Mayfield to David Njoku on the Browns’ first play from scrimmage went for 14 yards and looked like the beginning of bad news for the Los Angeles Chargers. That concern was misplaced, however, and the drive stalled out three plays later when Rayshawn Jenkins and Corey Liuget combined for a sack.
Philip Rivers and the offense took over with great field position and needed only five plays to march 57 yards for their first opening drive touchdown of the Anthony Lynn’s tenure as head coach. Keenan Allen contributed 33 receiving yards on two receptions before Melvin Gordon punched it in from the 4-yard line.
The teams traded punts over the next four drives before the 1st quarter came to a close.
Jabrill Peppers gave Cleveland a short field thanks to a great punt return (which included a bad punt by Donnie Jones). The Browns just missed on a long pass play set up by a flea flicker when their rookie receiver was unable to haul in the pass after beating Jahleel Addae deep. The defense was able to hold after that and force a field goal attempt that was converted.
The teams traded punts again and the Chargers took over at their own 11-yard line. Rivers hit Tyrell Williams with a beautiful pass that split two defenders and picked up 44 yards. Williams wasn’t done, though, and Rivers threw into triple coverage in the end zone and Williams managed to come down with the ball for a 45-yard score.
The Browns marched down the field and into Chargers territory, but after they failed to convert on a 4th & 2, they gave the ball back to Rivers and the offense. Gordon got things going with a 14 yard run. Allen chipped in a 16-yard reception. Then Gordon picked up another 14 yards this time on a reception. On an ensuing 3rd & 6, the referees missed an obvious false start by Russell Okung and Rivers hit Williams across the middle for a 29-yard touchdown.
With only 51 seconds left in the half, the Browns took over on offense. Mayfield connected with Ratley for a 27-yard gain that all but guaranteed they would get points before the intermission. The defense held as best they could forcing two incompletions before the Browns called on their kicker to try from 28 yards out. It was good and the Chargers went into the locker room up 21 to 6.
The second half got off to a bad start with the Chargers going three-and-out including Rivers taking a huge sack on 3rd down. Things stopped trending that way almost immediately, though. Mayfield’s first pass of the half was intercepted by Desmond King who tacked on a nice return. On the first play from scrimmage following the turnover, Gordon waltzed into the end zone untouched thanks to some tremendous blocking.
A Cleveland three-and-out gave the ball back to Chargers offense. 11 plays, 96 yards, and over seven minutes later, Melvin Gordon scored his third touchdown of the day to put the game out of reach.
The teams traded punts again, and the Browns took over looking to drive. Duke Johnson and Damion Ratley contributed chunk plays to help get the Browns to the Chargers’ 1-yard line. On 3rd & goal, the Browns got Njoku matched up on Trevor Williams. Mayfield just threw the ball up for grabs and Williams had absolutely no chance. The Browns converted their two-point attempt to pull within three touchdowns.
The Chargers responded by running 8 plays for 55 yards that burned over 5 minutes of clock, but then Gordon let a pass clang off his hands into the waiting hands of a Cleveland defender. Luckily for him, the defense immediately bailed him out with King intercepting Mayfield again.
Geno Smith took over at quarterback and we got our first look at Forrest Lamp in a real game. They were unable to get a 1st down, but Badgley did convert a 44-yard field goal attempt.
The Browns offense came back on the field and managed to pick up some yards before they ultimately came up short on 4th & 4 to give the ball back following the 2-minute warning. The Chargers then simply ran out the clock.