Chargers Bolt Past Browns, 32-25

The San Diego Chargers put up yards and touchdowns in the second half to top the struggling Browns. Fred Greetham recaps the Browns sixth loss of the season...

The Browns game plan was simple defensively - stop, or at least slow down, the Chargers' primary offensive weapons in LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates.

They were successful... at least until 1:08 to play in the third quarter. That's when Tomlinson broke loose for a 41-yard touchdown run. Until then, Tomlinson had 43 yards on seven carries. After that, he gained 128 yards and scored three touchdowns on the next 11 carries.  He finished with 171 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries.  

However, it was the Chargers' defense that the Browns should've been worried about as the Browns dropped to 2-6 with a 32-25 loss to the Chargers in San Diego.

The turning point in the game was when the Browns offense again went into a shell in the third quarter. After a Mike Scifres punt pinned the Browns on their own one, Jeff Davidson's offense tried Reuben Droughns up the middle three times to no avail. The Browns then punted, and gave the Chargers great field position at the Browns 41 yard lins.

Shortly thereafter, the Chargers gave it to Tomlinson and he went 41-yards for a touchdown with 1:08 to play in the third quarter to give the Chargers a 17-12 lead. Tomlinson had been held to just 47 yards until that play.  

He took over the game from that point on, scoring two more touchdowns.

For the most part, the defense did its job, but the Browns' offense was unable to convert good field position into touchdowns in the first half. Besides settling for field goals throughout the game, the Browns gave the Chargers a touchdown as Charlie Frye fumbled into the end zone in the first half.  

The Chargers came into the game averaging 30 points a game and yet for most of the first three quarters, their only touchdown came from the defense.

Ultimately, it was the Browns ineffectiveness on offense that led to their undoing.

Tomlinson seemed to do whatever he wanted to do on the first series as he rushed for 33 yards before the Browns were able to touch the ball on offense. The Browns were able to stop the Chargers from getting into the end zone, however, and Nate Kaeding hit a 29-yard field goal with 7:47 to go in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead. The Chargers went 69 yards on the first drive.

After the first drive, the Browns were able to slow down the Chargers the rest of the first half. Tomlinson had seven carries for 43 yards in the first half and Gates had one catch for seven yards.  

Charlie Frye hit Joe Jurevicius on a big 52-yard over the shoulder catch on third-and-12 on the Browns' first possession. Jurevicius beat Marlon McCree to take the ball to the Chargers' 16. The Browns were unable to get into the end zone and Phil Dawson hit a 37-yard field goal with 1:35 to play to tie the score at 3-3.

Dennis Northcutt made an impact in his first game back from a rib injury. He took his first punt return 81 yards before he was knocked out of bounds at the Chargers' 10 yard line by rookie Antonio Cromartie. The Browns again did nothing with the opportunity and settled for Dawson's second field goal of the game from 20 yards out with 13:47 to play in the second quarter. Dawson's field goal was partially blocked by Darrell Robinson, but still found its way over the uprights.

Frye fumbled the ball with 5:49 to play in the second quarter on pressure by Randall Godfrey, and Marcus Harris recovered the ball in the end zone to give the Chargers a 10-6 lead.

Later in the first half, the Browns received a huge break after a missed 54-yard field goal by Dawson. Instead, the Chargers were called for an unsportsmanlike penalty to give the Browns a first down on the Chargers' 22. However, the Browns did nothing with the opportunity and settled for Dawson's third field goal with 2:44 to play in the first half to make it 10-9.

The Chargers were driving prior to the half, but Brodney Pool stripped the ball from Keenan McCardell and the Browns finally moved the ball on offense. Dawson kicked his fourth field goal of the first half with one second left to give the Browns a 12-10 lead at the half.

Frye was 6-of-8 for 56 yards on the final drive. He hit Kellen Winslow for four passes in the first half for 30 yards.

Trailing 17-12 early in the fourth quarter, the Browns took advantage of two personal fouls on the Chargers but had to settle for Dawson's fifth field goal of the game to pull to within two at 17-15 with 14:20 to play in the game.

However, Tomlinson came back with another touchdown to make it 24-15 with a little over nine minutes to play in the game.

The Browns had a chance to make a comeback as Frye hit Jerome Harrison for a touchdown, with 5:39 to play, but Kevin Shaffer was called for holding and the Browns had to again settle for a field goal by Dawson—his sixth of the game form 36 yards out. With 5:29 to play, the Browns trailed 24-18.

The field goal put the Browns back into the game, but the team's defense couldn't contain the Chargers and Tomlinson as he scored his third touchdown of the game with 3:53 to play to make it 31-18.

Fight back through the air with the clock ticking down, the Browns finally broke through into the end zone with 1:11 to play as Frye hit Edwards from four yards out to make it 32-25.

The Browns tried for the onside kick, but it was unsuccessful and the Browns lost 32-25.

Notebook

Phil's Day: K Phil Dawson's six field goals set a new Browns record. He accounted for the first 18 points the Browns scored as he hit on field goals from 37-, 20-, 42- 30-, 26-and 27-yards. Dawson missed a 54-yard attempt, but a penalty on the Chargers wiped out the play.

Slow Day for Reuben: RB Reuben Droughns had just 36 yards on 19 carries (1.9 avg.). He had 33 carries for 125 yards a week ago. From their own one, the Browns tried to have Droughns run up the middle three-straight times. They gained no yards and after the punt, Tomlinson broke loose for the go-ahead touchdown.

Wimbley Sacks: LB Kamerion Wimbley sacked QB Philip Rivers in the first half and combined with S Sean Jones for another one to finish with 1.5 sacks. Wimbley raced around the left tackle and made the play. Also, last week's AFC Defensive Player of the Week, S Sean Jones had a big sack on Rivers on third down earlier in the second quarter. DL Simon Fraser had a sack on third down in the third quarter.

Further Review: WR Keenan McCardell caught a pass in the final two minutes of the first half and it looked as though he was stripped of the ball by S Brodney Pool. The play was reviewed and the Browns were awarded the ball at their own 28 with 1:52 to play.

Wideouts Shine: WR Joe Jurevicius had a 52-yard reception and a 17-yard catch in the first half and finished with three receptions for 76 yards. Braylon Edwards had six receptions for 61 yards, including a touchdown.   

Cribbs on the Run: Fresh off signing a six-year contract extension, Cribbs had a 45-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. He took a big hit after missing a slant pass in the fourth quarter.  

‘Cutt Back: WR/PR Dennis Northcutt made an immediate impact on his return from a rib injury as he took his first punt 81 yards. He went into the game ranking second in the AFC in returns behind only New England's Kevin Faulk.

Frye Day: QB Charlie Frye threw an interception in the second quarter to LB Donnie Edwards. He also fumbled the ball that resulted in a Chargers' touchdown. Frye has thrown 12 interceptions thus far this season, while throwing 8 touchdowns. Frye injured his thumb at practice on Friday, but still started. He finished 25–of-43 for 236 yards, including a touchdown and an interception.  Frye was sacked four times, all in the first half. Frye was under duress all game and he was sacked and fumbled to start the third quarter, but a penalty on the Chargers negated the play. Frye took a pounding all game, but a personal foul on Marcus Robinson after a delay of game penalty put Frye on the turf for some time.

Strange Play: The Browns had K Phil Dawson attempt a 54-yard field goal in the second quarter. It had enough distance, but was wide to the left. The Chargers were called for an unsportsmanlike penalty for calling back-to-back timeouts. The penalty was 15 yards and the Browns got a first down on the Chargers' 22. The Browns were once again unable to make use of the penalty and settled for Dawson's third field goal.

K2: TE Kellen Winslow spoke out this week about being the best tight end in the NFL and he was anxious to prove it against the Chargers, where his father earned Hall of Fame status. He didn't have a ball thrown his way until the final possession of the first half. He caught four passes on that possession for 30 yards. He was booed by the Chargers' crowd every time he caught a pass. He ended up with a season high of 11 receptions for 78 yards. Meanwhile, Antonio Gates had just two catches for 22 yards.

Bodden Down: CB Leigh Bodden went down on the first defensive series. The Browns were already missing Daven Holly. Jereme Perry played most of the game for Bodden.

Holly, Roye, McGinest Miss: The Browns had three starters on defense missing as Daven Holly (illness), DL Orpheus Roye (hamstring) and LB Willie McGinest (ankle) all were inactive. Nick Eason started for Roye, while Ralph Brown started for Holly and Matt Stewart for McGinest.


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