For the second time this year, a winless visiting team has come into Cleveland Browns Stadium and emerged with their first win of the year. Several weeks ago, it was the Cincinnati Bengals, and today it was the San Diego Chargers.
LaDanian Tomlinson was largely responsible for the Chargers win, as the skill of the former first-round draft choice combined with missed tackles by the Browns defense to yield over 200 yards for San Diego. The Chargers running back ran 26 times for 200 yards, which is over seven yards per carry. The effective running attack was almost cancelled out by the inability of the Chargers to throw the ball, as Drew Brees finished with only 74 yards passing on the day.
The Browns, meanwhile, were hobbled not only by offensive line injuries, but by frequent mistakes. Perhaps the most glaring were a number of dropped passes (Quincy Morgan and Jamel White being key culprits) which led to ineffectiveness by starting quarterback Tim Couch. Couch also made a poor read on a pass which was intercepted by Kwame Lassiter and returned for a Charger touchdown.
Kelly Holcomb entered the game in the fourth quarter and received good protection as the Chargers frequently rushed only three linemen while protecting a 23-6 lead. Holcomb led the Browns back amidst a charged-up Cleveland Browns Stadium crowd with two touchdown passes in the final quarter to bring the score to 23-20.
Unfortunately, the Chargers were able to hold onto the ball until only two minutes were left in the game, helped significantly by a fifteen-yard late hit penalty by Andra Davis on Charger QB Drew Brees. The Chargers, helped by the penalty and strong running by Tomlinson, managed a late field goal, pushing the lead to 26-20. The Browns were not able to take advantage of a final opportunity with the football, falling to 3-4 on the year. The Chargers, coming off a bye week, improve to 1-5.
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