Chargers win wild high scoring game against the Browns
October 14, 2021
The Cleveland Browns came into SoFi Stadium on last Sunday with the best rushing attack in the NFL and a top five defense. They left SoFi Stadium Sunday Night with the top rushing offense in the NFL but their top five defense was shredded by the Los Angeles Chargers offense. In a wild shootout that produced a total of eighty-nine points and over 1,000 yards in total offense, the Chargers held on for a thrilling 47-42 win over the Browns.
The win improved the Chargers record to 4-1, giving them sole possession of first place in the AFC West. The Browns had their three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 3-2 for the season. The Browns became the first team in NFL history to lose when scoring more than 40 points and gaining at least 500 yards in offense without committing a turnover, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Browns rushed for 230 yards on the ground and quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns in a very impressive offensive showing. Unfortunately for the Browns, they ran into an offensive juggernaut led by Justin Herbert. The Chargers second-year quarterback, who is just 23 years old and has started only twenty NFL games, ripped through the Browns top five defense for 398 yards and four touchdowns, adding 29 rushing yards and a nine-yard touchdown run.
The Chargers have had some great quarterbacks but not since the days of "Air Coryell" from 1979 through 1982, have they had an offense that is as fun and entertaining as this offense. Air Coryell is the offensive scheme and philosophy developed by former Chargers head coach Don Coryell. Quarterback Dan Fouts led the NFL in passing yards for four consecutive seasons, from 1979 to 1982, and he became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Both Fouts and Herbert played their college football at the University of Oregon.
Herbert completed 26 of 43 passes, with eight of his pass receptions going to wide receiver Mike Williams, two for touchdowns. Both came on deep post patterns, the first a 72-yard touchdown pass to give the Chargers a brief 13-10 second quarter lead, and the second a 42-yard touchdown pass to give the Chargers a 28-27 lead early in the 4th quarter. Williams had 165 yards in receptions for the game.
Running back Austin Ekeler scored three fourth quarter touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown that gave the Chargers a 47-42 lead. Ekeler rushed for 66 yards on 17 carries with two rushing touchdowns and caught five passes for 53 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Keenan Allen had six receptions for 75 yards, including a 37 yard reception on a terrific catch along the sidelines on a perfect throw from Herbert late in the game.
The Chargers continue to have success with both 3rd down conversions and 4th down conversions. Their 3rd down conversion rate is 48.5%, which ranks No. 4 in the NFL, and their fourth down conversion rate is 87.5%, which is No. 3 in the NFL. The Chargers converted two 4th downs in the second half that were a key to the victory over the Browns. The Chargers are 7 for 8 on fourth down conversions this season.
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley believes in his quarterback on any down. "To win a game like this, one that turns into a track meet, you have to have a superstar quarterback to win it," Staley said. "That's what he is, he was fantastic in the game. That's an awesome defense that he's playing against, that defense is really good. Seeing them in person, they're very complete - they have front rushers, they have second-level players that can run. They're doing a really nice job coaching the secondary."
Staley added, "For us to play like we did today, it starts with Justin. Like I told the team in there, the reason why he's being able to play how he's capable of playing is because he has a really good team around him. The offensive line was outstanding today. Our receivers, tight ends and backs were fantastic. What that does is it allows him to go and be who we all know he is. You can't win a game like that if you don't have a player like Justin Herbert."
Staley was not completely content after the victory over the Browns. Asked about the defensive performance against the run, Staley stated that, "I'm not pleased with how it went today. I don't think we played or coached well enough today. What we have to do is tell the truth about what's happening. This is the second time in a game that we've given up far too many yards. What happens is it has a really adverse effect on the team because it limits possessions for your offense."
He added that, "We have to play better, and we have to coach it better. It's a team operation, and we will because we have the right type of guys in there. That's a really good running football team, so I'm not taking anything away from them. As a matter of fact, I'm tipping my cap to them, those guys can really coach over there. They have a bunch of really good players, but we need to play better, for sure, if we're going to beat the team's we need to beat moving forward."
The Chargers are last against the run in the NFL, allowing an average of 157.6 yards per game. Both the Dallas Cowboys and the Browns ran well against the Chargers and Staley is correct, the run defense needs to improve for the Chargers to get to the playoffs and have success once they are there.
The Chargers will not get a break this week when they fly to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. The Ravens are 4-1 and alone in first place in the AFC North. Like the Browns, they bring a potent offense and a strong running game. The Ravens are ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total yardage at 440.6 yards per game and No. 4 in rushing yardage at 148.8 yards per game.
The Ravens are led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP. Jackson is off to another terrific start as he leads the Ravens in rushing yardage with 341 rushing yards and is averaging 303.8 passing yards per game. Jackson presents multiple challenges for the Chargers defense this week. The Chargers will bring their high-powered passing attack to Baltimore this weekend, against a Ravens secondary that has struggled against the pass this season. The Chargers will certainly attack that weakness.
The game is scheduled for Sunday, October 17th, and will start at 10:00 AM PST. The game will be televised on CBS. The Chargers will have a bye week after the Ravens game, then return to SoFi Stadium on Halloween to meet the New England Patriots. With the potent Charger offense, it should be a fun and entertaining Halloween afternoon for Charger fans.