Chargers shrug off winless Browns
CARSON, Calif. — As far as first impressions goes, Travis Coons was wide right in the Los Angeles Chargers’ 19-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns at the StubHub Center on Sunday
“I started a little rough,” Coons said.
But his day got smoother. Coons, signed to replace injured kicker Nick Novak (back/injured reserve) on Saturday, ricocheted his initial field-goal attempt off the right upright and then rattled off four consecutive successful kicks.
“I just had to bounce back and forget about it,” Coons said.
The Browns (0-12) lost their 27th game in their past 28 contests. Their lone triumph during that span came against the Chargers last year.
“We want to win; there are no moral victories,” Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson said. “It’s another disappointing loss.”
The Chargers (6-6) won for the sixth time in eight games after an 0-4 start. With the Kansas City Chiefs losing and the Oakland Raiders winning, the three teams are tied for first place in the AFC West.
“It’s exciting to have a meaningful December,” Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers said. “I never knew 6-6 could feel this good.”
There was no repeat by the Chargers of their 2016 stumble against the Browns, although Los Angeles was hardly dominant as it squandered numerous scoring opportunities in letting Cleveland stay close.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon played for the Browns, seeing action for the first time since 2014 because of off-the-field issues. The former Pro Bowler had four catches for 85 yards.
“It looked like he belonged,” Jackson said. “But we can’t just sit around and watch Josh.”
Rivers was again easy on the eyes, completing 31 of 43 passes for 344 yards and a touchdown. Keenan Allen was Rivers’ favorite target, pacing all receivers with 10 catches for 105 yards.
“The guy’s ability to beat man coverage is one of the best in the league,” Rivers said.
Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was 15 of 32 for 215 yards and a score with one interception.
“We need to get over the hump,” Kizer said. “There are guys that are really deserving on this team and to reward those guys, we have to start winning games.”
Los Angeles’ Melvin Gordon led all rushers with 77 yards on 19 carries as the Chargers continued their second-half surge.
“Everything is in our hands right now,” Melvin Gordon said. “But we have to stay focused on the task at hand.”
Zane Gonzalez pulled the Browns to within 19-10 with 12 minutes remaining on a 35-yard field goal.
With a minute left in the third quarter, Coons kicked his fourth field goal. The 27-yarder gave the Chargers a 19-7 cushion.
Rivers clicked with Allen on a 7-yard scoring strike five minutes into the third quarter. That pushed the Chargers ahead 16-7 as they finally notched a touchdown in their fifth possession that reached Cleveland’s 20-yard line.
Allen snagged his fifth touchdown reception of the season and his fourth in three games. After missing most of last season with a knee injury, Allen became the first player in NFL history to have 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in three consecutive games.
The Browns seized the lead 7-6 two minutes before halftime on a 28-yard scoring pass from Kizer to tight end David Njoku. Trevor Williams was beaten in single coverage on the play.
Los Angeles broke a scoreless tie six minutes into the second quarter on Coons’ 21-yard field goal. Coons, the Chargers’ third kicker of the season, missed his first effort in the opening quarter when his 38-yarder caromed off the right upright.
Coons’ 40-yard field goal late in the second quarter extended the Chargers’ lead to 6-0.
NOTES: Browns WR Josh Gordon played his first game in 1,078 days, his absence caused by NFL and team suspensions. ... The Chargers placed K Nick Novak (back) on injured reserve Saturday. ... Los Angeles DT Darius Philon started in place of Corey Liuget (foot). ...CB Casey Hayward returned to the Chargers after missing practices following the death of his brother. ... Los Angeles WR Mike Williams (knee) was inactive. ... QB DeShone Kizer was Cleveland’s leading rusher with 46 yards on five carries.