Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium.

© Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Reality check: Chargers rout Browns 38-14

LA racks up 449 yards of offense, Baker Mayfield throws 2 INTs in loss

October 15, 2018

Daryl Ruiter-Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – For as much of a charge as the Browns might have gotten out of their 2-2-1 start, on Sunday, Los Angeles pulled the plug on it in emphatic fashion.  

Missed opportunities, missed throws, a missed false start, dropped balls and big gains ceded by the defense all added up to a 38-14 rout by the visitors at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“That was disappointing,” head coach Hue Jackson said.

“I do not ever think that it got away [because] I do not know if we ever got our hand on it. We just did not play well.”

Baker Mayfield did not look like the prodigy from the previous three weeks.

“We did not execute. We did not do our job. We were not detailed. We did not do the things that we talked about all week,” a candid Mayfield said. “That is the most disappointing thing. Anytime you do not do your job… I am at fault for majority of that.”

Mayfield finished the day 22 of 46 for 238 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and a rating of 52.6. He was sacked five times and hit nine more times by Chargers defenders.

“Have get the ball out,” Mayfield said. “I have to make it easier on our guys, case and point. We have to take care of the ball – we as in I do. I have to put us in position to win.”

The Browns, who were out-gained 449-317, had six trips inside the Chargers’ 40 in the first half and only came away with two field goals.

“The field position that we had, we have to capitalize,” tight end David Njoku, who had a team-high seven catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, said.

Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers completed just 11 of 20 passes for 207 yards, and 118 of them went to receiver Tyrell Williams, who had a pair of touchdowns on three catches.

Rivers and Williams accounted for a two-play, 89-yard scoring drive by themselves with plays of 45 and 44 yards to make it 14-3, despite the effort from safety Damarious Randall to wrestle the ball away in the end zone, midway through the opening quarter.

Williams’ second TD catch - 29 yards with 51 seconds left in the first half – should not have even been allowed because Chargers left tackle Russell Okung took three steps back before the ball was even snapped. Instead, L.A. led 21-3.

“This loss seems bad because of the score, but at the end of the day, it only counts as one in the loss column,” Randall said. “Even had we lost in overtime again, it’s still the same loss. We are not trying to put more or less on this loss, but at the end of the day, it’s one loss. 

“We are going to learn from it. Honestly, I’m glad it happed this early in the season. Every team is going to go through something like this, and it’s the way you respond. That is going to really speak volumes about this team, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon dropped the hat trick on Cleveland’s defense with three touchdown runs – 4, 10 and 11 yards.

The Chargers put the game away within the span of 30 seconds in the third quarter when cornerback Desmond King jumped in front of a ball from Mayfield intended for Jarvis Landry, and he returned it to the Cleveland 10. Gordon carried it in for a 28-6 lead with 11:49 left in the third quarter on the very next snap.

Landry caught just two passes for 11 yards in the loss.

“He is the best receiver in the league in my opinion,” Mayfield said. “I have to put the ball in better range for him. The interception, I left it behind. The DB made a great play. He is in a trail technique. Jarvis beat him cross-face. I have to give him a chance to catch that ball. I left it behind him. The others, I have to be more accurate.

“None of that is on Jarvis. He is doing his job. I have to find ways get him the ball more.”

King intercepted Mayfield for a second time, moments after Christian Kirksey hauled in a deflected Rivers pass midway through the fourth quarter for Cleveland’s 16th takeaway of the season.

The lone highlight for Mayfield came early in the fourth quarter when he found Njoku for a two-yard touchdown and then the two-point conversion to Antonio Callaway in the back of the end zone to make it a 35-14 contest with 12:28 remaining.  

Callaway had a long throw from Mayfield go right through his hands in the end zone on third-and-16 late in the first quarter. It should’ve been a 40-yard touchdown.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley dipped into the bag of tricks when he called for a flea flicker on the first play of the next offensive possession – Mayfield handed off to Hyde, who flipped the ball back to Mayfield for a throw to the end zone that went through Damion Ratley’s hands and an opportunity for a 33-yard TD fell flat.

“I should have had that ball,” Ratley said. “I think I should catch everything. I should have caught it.”

A third throw to the end zone, to Landry from Mayfield on a slant, was deflected before No. 80 could get his hands on the ball.

“We just have to find a way. Have to find a way,” Jackson said. “Obviously, that is not good enough. I would like to see how they were covering Jarvis, but we have to find ways that he can catch it and the rest of our guys. We have to catch them. We have to give them a chance to get open.”

The special teams unit started off with its usual atrocious play. They once again got called for an illegal formation – on the opening kickoff – that the Chargers kindly declined. Jabrill Peppers’ best punt return (at the moment) – 14 yards to the Chargers 35 – was wiped out thanks to a holding penalty on Damion Ratley that moved the Browns back to their own 46 instead.

Peppers bounced back with a 13- and 33-yard punt return to set up the first field goal of the day. His second big return resulted in a punt. Peppers was also fortunate to fall on a punt that he muffed in the third quarter.   

In addition to the rout, injuries are starting to pile up for the Browns.

Middle linebacker Joe Schobert departed in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and was replaced by James Burgess, who also left in the fourth quarter due to a hamstring injury. In the first quarter Rod Streater suffered a neck stinger leaving the Browns with just three active receivers for the afternoon.

“I do not have any excuses,” Jackson said. “That is the National Football League. Next guy is up. They have to get up and play. Derrick Willies is a rookie himself. We just have to take what we have, keep coaching and get better.”