CLEVELAND — Austin Ekeler rushed for a career-high 173 yards, Taylor Bertolet kicked three field goals in his NFL regular-season debut and safety Alohi Gillman had a key interception as the Chargers held off the Cleveland Browns for a wild 30-28 victory Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The game wasn’t settled until Cleveland’s Cade York missed a 54-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining.
The Chargers (now 3-2) fell behind 14-0 as the Browns (2-3) moved the ball with remarkable ease on their first two possessions. Nick Chubb scored on a 41-yard run on Cleveland’s first drive and Amari Cooper caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jacoby Brissett on its second drive.
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Matters would improve for the Chargers, who reeled off 17 consecutive points to take an all-too-brief 17-14 lead after Ekeler caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Justin Herbert with 5:51 left in the half. The Browns responded with Chubb’s 2-yard TD run with 2:55 left.
Ekeler rushed for 106 yards on six carries in the first half, the first Chargers running back to gain 100 yards this season in the first game the Chargers gained 100 yards on the ground this season. Chubb had 95 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries for the Browns.
The Chargers regained the lead 24-21 on Ekeler’s 22-yard scoring run and then they extended it to 27-21 on Taylor Bertolet’s 25-yard field goal. But the Browns countered with Kareem Hunt’s 2-yard run to take a somewhat less than commanding 28-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
Bertolet’s 27-yard field goal put the Chargers back in front 30-28 with 9:29 left. Then with the Browns driving for a potential go-ahead score, Gillman picked off Brissett’s pass in the end zone. Brissett appeared to have plenty of room if he had decided to run. He passed instead.