Chargers win on the road, face Broncos on Monday Night Football
October 13, 2022
Two weeks ago, the Chargers were reeling after a stunning 38-10 loss at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were struggling to run the ball and quarterback Justin Herbert was taking too many hits. Two weeks later, the Chargers have found their running game, are doing a better job of protecting Herbert and have a two-game winning streak.
On Sunday in Cleveland, the Chargers ran for a season-high 238 yards, with running back Austin Ekeler rushing for a career-high 173 yards on 16 carries as the Chargers held on for a 30-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns. The win, following a victory the week before in Houston over the Texas, moved the Chargers to 3-2 for the season. The Browns drop to 2-3 for the season.
Ekeler scored on a 12-yard pass from Herbert in the second quarter and added a 22-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He got help running the ball from former UCLA star Joshua Kelly, who had 10 carries for 49 yards and a five-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Kelly also had 2 receptions for 33 yards.
Through the first three games of the 2022 season, Ekeler had 80 yards rushing and zero touchdowns scored. In the past two games, Ekeler has rushed for 233 yards and scored five touchdowns, three rushing and two receiving. Against the Browns, the Chargers finally committed to Kelly, who looked like the second best running back on the roster in training camp.
On the road the past two weeks, the Chargers finally started to have some success with the running game and that helped reduce the pressure on Herbert, who has been playing with a cracked rib cartilage. In the first three games, Herbert was hit 17 times. Over the past two games, he has been hit just four times. The past two weeks, the Chargers are doing a better job of getting the ball out quickly on passes, which helps the offensive line.
That was required against the Browns, with All-Pro Myles Garrett at left defensive end and three-time pro bowler Jadeveon Clowney at right defensive end. Herbert completed 22 of 34 passes against the Browns for 228 yards and one touchdown. Herbert was focused on completing passes and moving the chains. Wide receiver Mike Williams was easily the top target with ten receptions for 134 yards.
Later in the game, with the Chargers clinging to a 30-28 lead and 1:13 left in the game, the Chargers had a 4th & 1 at their own 46-yard line. The Browns were out of timeouts and the conventional thinking would be to punt the ball and pin the Browns inside their own 20-yard line, which means their offense would need to move about 50 yards to get into field goal range in about a minute with no timeouts.
Charger head coach Brandon Staley, who has a well-earned reputation for taking risks, decided to go for it. The pass attempt from Herbert to Williams was incomplete and the Brown had the ball at the Chargers 46-yard line. Three plays later, a 54-yard field goal attempt by Browns kicker Cade York was wide right. Lady luck was with Staley on this day.
The Chargers will be back at home at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood for a Monday Night game against the Denver Broncos. The game will be played on October 17th, starting at 5:15 locally and will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Broncos are 2-3 on the season and have a top five defense, so it will be a tough battle between the two division rivals. The Broncos also have Russell Wilson as their new quarterback. Wilson signed with Broncos in the off season.