The Browns went looking for answers after wasting their lead


INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) – The Cleveland Browns have a double-digit road lead twice against quality teams this season. And twice they squandered those leads and lost.

Sunday was the last disappointment for the Browns as they were up 14 points early in the third quarter, but lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 47-42.

Behind the Browns’ electric running game and the fantastic play of Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the game turned into a savage shootout and that didn’t bode well for the injury-plagued Browns. The Chargers scored 26 points in the fourth quarter and converted three fourth-down games; they had another fourth play helped by a penalty. The Browns, who were already skinny from injury, suffered more and had to seek answers.

“They played a good game and we couldn’t get away in a few places,” said coach Kevin Stefanski. “I’m sure there are about a thousand reasons, but we have to make sure we make those corrections from this game on and then move on. We have an undefeated team (Arizona Cardinals) coming to us next week.

The Browns (3-2) led 22-10 at halftime in Kansas City on September 12 before losing 33-29.

After the Chargers missed an extra point to stay behind 42041, the Browns appeared to be in business with a one-point lead and there was 3:08 left to go. In this penultimate offensive series, the Browns were eliminated by three. The Browns returned the ball to Herbert and the Chargers’ searing offense, and they made them pay for it.

“We obviously wanted to score,” Stefanski said. “I ran on the first try. Second down we tried to get a double hit on their corner. We really wanted the clock to tick there too. It was incomplete.

Mayfield thought there should have been a pass interference call on Rashard Higgins’ second pass attempt.

“We asked the referee how the hell he missed that call,” Mayfield said. “They push Donovan Peoples-Jones out of bounds and Higgy gets caught, so there are two IPs on a play and they don’t call him. We shouldn’t be in this position.

The Browns had a record 531 yards offensively and ran the ball at will with the tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Cleveland had 230 rushing yards and Chubb had 161 yards on 21 carries (7.7 yards per carry) and scored a touchdown. Hunt scored twice and had 61 yards on 12 carries.

“Our rushed offense week after week is one of the best in the league,” Mayfield said. “We built on that today. Passed the ball when we needed it. We didn’t make the plays we needed to win.

Rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah suffered a bruised throat and was rushed to a local hospital after the game, according to a team spokesperson, as a precaution. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (elbow) did not play, nor did offensive tackle Jedrick Willis Jr. (ankle). Cleveland was already slim in high school with rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II inactive.

Then cornerbacks Denzel Ward (neck) and Greedy Williams (right shoulder) were injured in the first half and did not return. The Browns missed both starting tackles after right tackle Jack Conklin injured his knee in the third quarter. Safety MJ Stewart suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return. Ward, Williams, Conklin and Stewart are scheduled to have an MRI on Monday.


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