3 Takeaways from Browns' Week 5 Loss
The Cleveland Browns scored 42 points, amassed 531 yards of offense, committed no turnovers and led for much of the second half on Sunday. And yet they couldn't come away with a road win against the Los Angeles Chargers.
In a wild finish, they fell 47-42 to the Chargers at SoFi Stadium, as Austin Ekeler's three-yard touchdown run with one minute, 31 seconds remaining lifted Los Angeles to victory.
Entering Sunday, the Browns had been rolling, as they had won three straight games since dropping their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. It seemed they were in a good position to earn another victory, especially when it built a 14-point lead by midway through the third quarter. However, they couldn't close things out against one of the top teams in the AFC.
Here are three takeaways from Cleveland's Week 5 loss.
Collapses Can't Happen Late in Games
Luck appeared to be on the Browns' side late in the fourth quarter on Sunday. When Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ekeler with 3:15 remaining, kicker Tristan Vizcaino missed the extra point, which kept Cleveland's lead at 42-41.
All the Browns had to do was pick up enough first downs to run out the clock. Instead, they gained only four yards and went three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Chargers with 2:02 to go. And Cleveland's defense couldn't stop anything at that point, as Ekeler's go-ahead TD marked Los Angeles' fourth consecutive drive that resulted in it getting into the end zone.
"They played a good game and we didn't come through there in a couple spots," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters. "I'm sure there's about a thousand reasons why, but we have to make sure we make those corrections from this game and then move on."
Even after the Chargers took the lead, the Browns still had 1:31 to get down the field and into the end zone. However, they gained only 21 yards, turning the ball over on downs at their own 46-yard line.
Cleveland is a strong team, but it will likely need to find ways to close out games like this to be among the best in the NFL.
The Offense Couldn't Have Performed Much Better
Although the Browns couldn't put together a late go-ahead drive, the offense can't be blamed for this loss.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield had a bounce-back showing, passing for 305 yards and two touchdowns, while the two-headed rushing attack of Nick Chubb (161 yards and a touchdown) and Kareem Hunt (61 yards and two touchdowns) continued to be highly effective.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Cleveland is the first team in NFL history to lose a game in which it had at least 40 points, 500 yards of total offense and no turnovers. That seems like a sure recipe for victory, and it always had been until Sunday.
And because the Browns didn't win, that left them thinking over the rare times they didn't score on offense.
"We left too many points on the board in the first half," Mayfield said, per Andrew Gribble of the team's official site. "I don't think it would have been the same outcome with needing a touchdown to tie the ballgame up late in the game if we had done that early on."
Still, Cleveland's offense is a major reason why the team has been playing well early in the season. It now ranks fifth in the league with 417.6 total yards per game.
The Secondary Isn't in Great Shape Right Now
It wasn't a great day for the Browns' secondary, especially late, as Herbert passed for 398 yards and four touchdowns and led scoring drives when the Chargers needed to get into the end zone.
However, part of the reason for Cleveland's trouble stopping the pass can be attributed to injuries.
The Browns came into the game without rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II (calf injury). Then, cornerback Denzel Ward exited in the first quarter with a neck injury, safety M.J. Stewart left in the second half with a hamstring injury and cornerbacks Greedy Williams and Troy Hill each got banged up at times during the contest.
"I hate to even mention injuries because they're part of the game, but we were into our depth in a couple of areas," Stefanski said, per Gribble. "I trust the guys who were in there, but we didn't come through."
Other key defenders also missed the game, such as defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, while the Browns' offense was without the likes of wide receiver Jarvis Landry and tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.
Sometimes, it can be hard to keep rolling when the injuries start to pile up, but Cleveland can also look forward to getting reinforcements down the line, which should help it in the future.