In-Game Blog: Chargers Hang On to Top Browns

The San Diego Chargers built a 20-point lead before being outscored by the Browns in the fourth quarter, 17-3. Nonetheless, the So Cal squad pulled out the 30-23 win and improved to 9-3. Check out the in-game blog to relive all the action.

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4:12 p.m. -- The Browns drive for another score -- a field goal that scarily cut the lead to seven -- but LaDainian Tomlinson secures the onside kicks and the Chargers take three straight knees to win their seventh consecutive game and improve to 9-3.

4:00 p.m. -- The Browns put some fear into Chargers fans by quickly driving down the field and scoring a TD, threatening to make it a one-score game. San Diego catches a break when it snuffs out a QB sneak by Brady Quinn on the two-point conversion, but the Browns keep the game alive by recovering the onside kick. The hands team by the Chargers should be scolded for the most lackadaisical play of the game.

3:51 p.m. -- San Diego's offense delivers a drive that should be enough to salt away the victory. The Chargers take just over five minutes off the clock and finish off the drive with a 22-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding to make it a 16-point game. In the process, LaDainian Tomlinson passed Jim Brown on the all-time rushing list and promptly paid tribute to the Browns icon. Classy move.

3:38 p.m. -- The Chargers defense swings and whiffs in its first attempt to close the door. The Browns needed a touchdown drive to keep this game interesting and got exactly that. The coverage continues to be shoddy as the Browns pull to 27-14.

3:28 p.m. -- The offense stalls for just the second time today as Jacob Hester comes up inches short on a fullback dive on fourth-and-1. Now, all that's left to watch is the clock (13:45 remaining) and LaDainian Tomlinson's yardage (9 yards away from Jim Brown's yardage mark).

3:16 p.m. -- The Browns go three-and-out once again and this outcome is all but decided. The key questions now: 1) What records can LaDainian Tomlinson break? and 2) Can Antonio Gates top 200 receiving yards?

3:09 p.m. -- Antonio Gates explodes for two more big receptions as he enjoys his best outing of the season. His touchdowns may be down this season (four), but he's on pace to shatter his personal record for yards in a season. LaDainian Tomlinson caps the drive with a 4-yard score to put the Chargers ahead, 27-7. Tomlinson is now 17 yards away from Jim Brown's career rushing total.

3:01 p.m. -- The defense answers with its first three-and-out of the day to keep the momentum squarely on San Diego's side. The Chargers, who have scored on four of their first five drives, have a chance to take over this game with another score.

2:54 p.m. -- Philip Rivers continues to take full advantage of the versatile skills of his running backs, finding Darren Sproles on a screen pass for a 31-yard score. The drive's key play came on a third-and-7, when Antonio Gates out-fought a double-team to haul in a 34-yard reception. Gates already has 91 yards with 25 minutes still to play.

2:41 p.m. -- KEY HALFTIME STATS: LaDainian Tomlinson carried six times for 22 yards, leaving him 33 yards shy of Jim Brown on the all-time rushing list. ... Mike Tolbert's 66-yard TD reception was the second-longest catch of his career; he had a 67-yarder in 2008. ... Josh Cribbs is averaging just 18 yards per kickoff return and picked up zero yards on his lone punt return. ... The Browns have nearly doubled-up the Chargers in time of possession, 19:40 to 10:20.

2:34 p.m. -- They say great teams score in the final two minutes of halves, and that was on full display in this contest. After the Browns squandered their two-minute drill with conservative play calling, the Chargers took over with 33 seconds remaining and moved 46 yards to set up a 42-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding to extend the lead to 13-7. The key play on the drive was a throw-back to Legedu Naanee, who tossed the ball across the field to LaDainian Tomlinson for a 21-yard gain.

2:16 p.m. -- The offense is able to move the ball and take some time off the clock, but the drive ends when the Chargers' offensive line gives up its first sack in the last three games. Mike Scifres punts the ball away and C.J. Spillman delivers a superb tackle to give the Browns the ball at their own 13-yard line with 2:33 left in the first half.

2:07 p.m. -- The defense continues to play on its heels, especially the secondary, but Ron Rivera's unit catches a break when Shaun Phillips sacks QB Brady Quinn and Jacques Cesaire corrals the fumble to end a deep scoring threat. The play marks Phillips' team-leading seventh sack of the season.

1:45 p.m. -- The Chargers take immediate advantage of Dawson's miss with a one-play scoring drive. Philip Rivers hits FB Mike Tolbert for a 66-yard score on an impressive catch-and-run. It marks Rivers' ninth straight game with a touchdown pass and Tolbert's third score in the last four games.

1:41 p.m. -- The Chargers' defense bends again but doesn't break this time, as the Browns come away empty on their second drive after Phil Dawson misses a 43-yard field goal attempt. It's surprising that thus far undrafted FS C.J. Spillman is getting more playing time than former first-round pick Antoine Cason.

1:32 p.m. -- San Diego's offense answers back with a scoring drive of its own, capped off by a Nate Kaeding field goal. Antonio Gates was the star of the drive, catching three passes for 39 yards. Most importantly, the drive took nearly 5:30 off the clock, giving San Diego's shell-shocked defense time to recover.

1:19 p.m. -- The Chargers entered today's game with two concerns. Firstly, would the team come out flat against the struggling Browns? And secondly, would the pass defense suffer minus a starting safety and two key pass rushers? Well, the fact that Brady Quinn started 6-for-6 and led the Browns to their first opening-drive touchdown in nearly three seasons pretty much answers both those questions.

12:50 p.m. -- San Diego's defense will be anchored by a slew of players who joined the team as undrafted free agents. Jacques Cesaire, Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Stephen Cooper, Marques Harris, James Holt, Steve Gregory and C.J. Spillman are all active today; all of them entered the NFL as undrafted free agents signed by the Chargers.

12:17 p.m. -- As expected, the Chargers placed Shawne Merriman (foot), Luis Castillo (calf), Eric Weddle (knee) and Nick Hardwick (ankle) on the inactive list for Sunday's game. Joining them on the list are Michael Bennett, Buster Davis and Dante Hughes. Charlie Whitehurst is the third QB.

The Cleveland Browns' inactive list has: DL Kenyon Coleman, CB Ramzee Robinson, CB Gerard Lawson, OG Rex Hadnot, LB Marcus Benard, TE Greg Estandia, WR Jake Allen and Brett Ratliff (third QB).


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