CLEVELAND (WJW) — Rookie Cade York missed a 54-yard field goal with 11 seconds left as Los Angeles held on for a 30-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns after Chargers coach Brandon Staley inexplicably gambled on a fourth down.
York’s kick sailed right and allowed the Chargers (3-2) to escape with a win Staley tried to give away.
With his team at its own 46 and leading by two, Staley called a timeout and then had Justin Herbert attempt a short pass on fourth-and-2 that fell incomplete, giving the ball back to the Browns with 1:10 left.
Cleveland had no timeouts and drove to the Chargers 35 to set up a shot for York, but the big-legged draft pick from LSU, couldn’t convert. He earlier missed a 45-yard attempt.
Austin Ekeler rushed for a career-high 173 yards and scored twice as San Diego, which came in last in the NFL in rushing, leaned on its ground game to win its second shootout in two seasons with the Browns (2-3).
The teams combined for 908 total yards and 53 first downs.
The most notable defensive play came when Chargers safety Alohi Gilman intercepted Jacoby Brissett’s pass in the end zone with 2:44 left, setting up a confusing finish highlighted by Staley’s decision.
Cleveland’s Nick Chubb ran for 134 yards and had a 2-yard TD run.
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams had 10 catches for 134 yards.
The Browns rushed for 213 yards on Sunday, the 21st game since 2020 they’ve rushed for over 150 yards – leads NFL.
The team has now rushed for at least 100 yards in six straight games, the second-longest active streak in the NFL, behind the Buffalo Bills at 10 games
WR Amari Cooper tallied seven receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. He leads the team in catches (27), receiving yards (306) and touchdowns (three).
TE David Njoku entered the 2,000-yard receiving club after catching the ball six times for 88 yards.
Pro Bowl CB Denzel Ward tallied a career high 10 tackles (nine solo) before suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter and was placed in league protocol.
Post-game press conference
In a post-game press conference, head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke to the media saying the loss is “very frustrating.”
“We come in here to play good football and get a win versus an AFC opponent, and we just did not get it done. We are going to share in this one. All of us had opportunities at the end, and we just didn’t come through. It is really, really hard and frustrating, as I mentioned. We have to figure it out. We have to start playing smarter in certain areas and find ways to get a victory, especially at home [versus an] AFC opponent.”
Stefanski said they gave up way too many yards, especially in the beginning.
“We have to be better at stopping the run,” he said. “Have to.”
On the missed 54-yard field goal that could’ve won the game, he said he expects York to come through for the team in future games.
“With a young player, you kind of just focus on getting better each day. Not losing confidence in him. He is not losing confidence in himself. Not an easy place to kick in. We will be counting on him next week and the week after that type thing.”
Stefanski said he doesn’t know if the NFL’s new concussion protocol affected Ward’s status.
Jacoby Brissett also spoke, admitting there were too many bad decisions late in plays that are pivotal moments in the game, specifically when he threw an interception with three minutes left in the game.
“It is just bad decisions late and late throughout the play, and just making good decisions. That was a poor decision by myself. Yes, I saw Amari (Cooper) coming. I know I am better than that, and I just made a bad decision.”
He said he has “ultimate trust in Cade and the field goal unit” after being asked about his response to the missed 54-yard field goal.
Myles Garrett was up next and was asked about his thoughts on “more booing again” from the fans.
“It hurts that I have to see the faces of my teammates, disappointed, knowing that we lost,” Garrett said. “I don’t have to look our fans in the face but I have to look at everyone one of the those guys in locker room,” he went on to say, “That’s what makes me disappointed.”
Garrett said he felt better playing in his first game following the one-car accident on Sept. 26.
“It is a process to return to 100 percent. I am just glad to be out there. I don’t want anyone feeling bad for me. I am going out there and giving 100 percent of what I have. I am just glad to be playing football. As long as I am able to move and fight, I will be out there,” he said.
Deshaun Watson is able to be back with the team in the Browns facility on Monday. His first game back is not until December.
Up next, Browns host the New England Patriots on Oct. 16.