Browns defensive struggles continue, fall to Chargers 30-28


Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Kicker Cade York missed a field goal in the Browns’ last drive of the game, sealing their loss to the LA Chargers

Jack Martin, Contributing Writer

On Sunday, Oct. 9, the Cleveland Browns hosted the Los Angeles Chargers at FirstEnergy Stadium. This was the sixth time the teams have met since 2015.

The Browns jumped to an early 7-0 lead following a 41-yard touchdown run by All-Pro running back Nick Chubb. On their following possession, the Browns capped off a nine-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacoby Brissett to wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Chargers answered quickly with a 28-yard field goal from Taylor Bertolet to make it a 14-3 ballgame.

Things began to go downhill for the Browns on both sides of the field. The offense was held to two three-and-outs, which the Chargers capitalized on by scoring twice to take a 17-14 lead. 

Late in the second quarter, the Cleveland offense tried to take over the game to seal the win, as Chubb scored again for a 21-17 lead. With an opportunity to go up seven before the end of the half, Browns rookie kicker Cade York missed a 45-yard field goal. 

Cleveland’s struggles continued into the second half, as they were unable to stop Chargers running back Austin Ekeler. On the opening drive, he gave the Chargers a 24-21 lead following a decisive 22-yard touchdown run. After giving up the ball on their own 30-yard line, the Browns allowed a 25-yard chip shot field goal from Bertolet to make it a 6-point ballgame. 

On the following drive, the Browns regained a 28-27 lead with a two-yard Kareem Hunt touchdown run after going 75 yards on 11 plays. The Chargers stormed down the field again, responding with a 27-yard field goal to take the 30-28 lead. 

With nine minutes left on the clock, the Browns slowly marched down the field to Los Angeles’ 9-yard line. On the verge of scoring, the Browns let their fans down again; Brissett threw what was thought to be the game-ending interception with only 2:44 left in the fourth quarter. 

In a miraculous fashion, the Browns managed to get the ball back after the Chargers failed to convert on downs. Down two with 16 seconds left in the game, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski sent out the kicker, York, to repeat his heroics from the season opener. For the second time in nearly three minutes, Browns fans were left speechless, as York’s 54-yard attempt sailed wide of the upright. 

This loss is nothing new for Browns fans. Doug Haghighi, a Browns superfan from Alaska, stated, “Pathetic. Same ending, different script.” 

This week’s game only further demonstrated several of the issues that the Cleveland Browns have been facing on all sides of the ball. Offensively, the team has reached its ceiling with Brissett—all three of his interceptions this season have been thrown during the fourth quarter with the game on the line. Had he tucked the ball and ran instead of throwing the costly interception, he likely would have scored and won the game for the Browns.

The most glaring issue, which fans have publicly criticized, is the defense. For the fifth straight game, the Browns’ secondary has struggled in zone coverage, allowing receivers such as the Chargers’ Mike Williams and Jets’ Garrett Wilson to slice apart the defense. On top of this, the run defense has struggled. The Browns have allowed 691 rushing yards over the course of the first five games, making them the fifth worst rushing defense in the league.  

The Browns look to bounce back against the New England Patriots at home next Sunday, Oct. 16.