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4 Turning Points: Chargers strip-sack seals Browns loss

CARSON, California — Analyzing four key moments in the Browns’ 19-10 loss to the Chargers…

  1. Another perfectly placed punt by Britton Colquitt pinned the Chargers to their own 4-yard line on their first offensive possession. They proceeded to march down the field, pile up 86 yards of offense and collect five first downs -- and came away with nothing.

The Browns defense, as it did throughout the first half, bent but didn’t break on a possession that took more than 7 minutes off the clock. Philip Rivers’ first incompletion, after completing his first seven passes, came on third-and-short, forcing the Chargers to attempt a field goal. Former Browns kicker Travis Coons, who was signed to Los Angeles’ active roster just one day earlier, doinked the kick off the right upright.

Coons would go on to make three more in the half, as the Browns gave up significant yards on every drive but limited the damage.

  1. The Browns offense finally hit its stride late in the second quarter, and the productive possession ultimately led to a brief lead. 

Trailing 6-0, the Browns needed just five plays to move 65 yards and score their first touchdown. On third-and-1 from the 44, DeShone Kizer found Josh Gordon down the sidelines for a 28-yard gain. After a short Duke Johnson Jr. run, Kizer looked for his tight end, rookie David Njoku, down the seam. Njoku caught the pass and tumbled forward to get just enough of his body across the line for the 28-yard touchdown.

The touchdown catch was Njoku’s team-best fourth of the season and it made him the all-time Browns rookie tight end leader.

The Browns play the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13.

  1. The Browns’ bend-but-don’t-break defense finally broke to start the second half. 

Rivers led the way on a 10-play, 78-yard drive that featured multiple Browns defenders going down with injuries. Keenan Allen was at the center of two back-breaking plays, hauling in a 26-yard catch on fourth-and-4 from the Browns’ 35 and then scoring on third-and-goal from the 7.

The drive also included a 25-yard completion to Chargers tight end Hunter Henry. Los Angeles tight ends were a trouble spot all game for the Browns defense, as Henry and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates finished with eight catches for 100 yards.

Allen continued his torrid three-game stretch, finishing with 10 catches for 105 yards and the touchdown. Allen has 33 catches for 436 yards and four touchdown in his last three games.

  1. The Browns were on the doorstep of a touchdown that would have sliced the Chargers’ lead to less than a field goal midway through the fourth quarter, but it all fell apart when Cleveland got to the 6-yard line.

On first-and-goal, Corey Coleman was flagged for holding on a Johnson run. Kizer’s first-down pass to Gordon was swatted out of the air by Pro Bowl defensive back Casey Hayward. His second-down pass to Coleman was dropped.

Faced with third-and-goal from the 15, Kizer initially evaded the pressure and rolled to his left in search of a target in the end zone. Joey Bosa closed on Kizer from behind, and the rookie never saw him. Bosa jarred the ball loose, and the Chargers recovered to essentially seal the game.

Kizer threw an interception on the following drive. He finished 15-of-32 for 215 yards and added 46 rushing yards.

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