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Chargers give Browns a jolt of reality

By MARY KAY CABOT • Updated Oct 14, 2018 at 5:59 PM

CLEVELAND — There was no Baker Mayfield magic on the lakefront Sunday against the Chargers. In fact, there was no magic by the defense or the special teams, either.

The Browns suffered a thorough beatdown in all three phases of the game by the Chargers, who won 38-14 to drop the Browns to 2-3-1. The Chargers, who came in with losses only to the 5-0 Chiefs and Rams, improved to 4-2.

Mayfield, who came up limping in the first quarter on a scramble and wasn't himself the rest of the game, was picked off twice by Desmond King and was ineffective all game.

It didn't help that Mayfield had very few receivers heading in and that he lost another one in the first quarter when Rod Streater went down with a stinger.

Mayfield (22-of-46, 238 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 52.6 rating) was plagued by dropped passes — including three in the end zone — by most of his receivers. He could never rally the troops like he did in his first appearance at FirstEnergy Stadium again the Jets on Sept. 20.

This time, he got no help from the defense, whose weaknesses were exposed by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and the high-powered Chargers offense.

Rivers, who came into the game No. 3 in the NFL with a 116.4 rating, completed 11-of-20 attempts for 207 yards. He passed for 207 yards with two TDs and one interception for a 103.5 rating. Rivers, who was relieved by Geno Smith in the fourth quarter, engineered a TD on his first possession and the Chargers never looked back.

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon rushed 18 times for 132 yards and three touchdowns, and the Chargers rolled up 449 yards on the Browns defense.

With the Browns painfully thin at receiver and relying on rookies, the Chargers took Jarvis Landry out of the game. He caught only two of nine targets for 11 yards.

One bright spot for the Browns was running back Duke Johnson, who caught four passes for 73 yards and ran twice for 36 yards.

Mayfield came up limping on his left foot after a 6-yard scramble in the first quarter when he ran out of bounds in front of the Chargers bench and slipped on the plastic yard marker.

He converted a fourth and 1 with a 2-yard sneak on the next play, but limped the rest of the game.

He came up limping again after a sack in the second quarter, and wasn't as mobile as he usually is.

The Browns' offense, defense and special teams all had a hand in this debacle.

Mayfield's first INT

Mayfield, on the first play of a drive at his 28, was picked off by King with 11:54 in the third quarter when King jumped Jarvis Landry's route and returned it 33 yards to the Browns' 10. Melvin Gordon ran it in on the next play to make it 28-6 Chargers with 11:54 left.

Schobert lost to injury

On a day when the defense was exposed by a great offensive team, starting middle linebacker Joe Schobert was lost for the game in the third quarter with a pulled hamstring, and it looks like it could be serious. Schobert grabbed the back of his leg as he was running on the play when he was injured.

In the fourth quarter, the Browns also lost linebacker James Burgess to a hamstring injury.

The Missed false start

Rivers threw a 29-yard TD pass to receiver Tyrell Williams with 53 seconds left in the half to make it 21-3, but the referees missed a false start by left tackle Russell Okung that was obvious to everyone else in FirstEnergy Stadium.

Rivers' 45-yard TD pass

Rivers was backed up to his 11 in the second quarter, but he burned the Browns on back-to-back plays, a 44-yard pass to Williams and then a 45-yard TD pass to Williams that made it 14-3 with 6:34 left in the second.

Callaway, Ratley drop passes in end zone

Callaway dropped a pass in the end zone in the first quarter, and fellow rookie Ratley dropped one in the second quarter off a flea-flicker. The Browns headed into the game in dire straits at receiver and it went from bad to abysmal when Streater was lost to the stinger.

Callaway failed to secure another pass in the end zone when he was double-covered, and the Browns had to settle for a field goal.

Failure on 4th and 2

The Browns had a chance to trim their 14-3 deficit in the second quarter, but they went for it on fourth and 2 from the Chargers' 23 and failed. Mayfield overthrew a wide open Landry at about the 12, and it was almost as if he didn't see him. The Chargers went on to increase their lead to 21-3 on that 29-yard TD pass to Williams.

Waste of field position

Twice the Browns wasted great field position in the first half. Once they started at the Chargers' 33 and settled for a field goal. Next time up, they started at 39 after a 33-yard punt return by Jabrill Peppers and went three-and-out after Mayfield was sacked on third down.

Up next

The Browns travel to Tampa Bay to play the Bucs, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m.

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