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Sun., Mar. 08, 2015 1:30 PM PDT
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Defense Turns Corner Despite Loss
The Cleveland Browns came into Sunday’s matchup against the Chargers ranked 27th in the NFL in total offense.
But on the Browns’ first possession of the game, Cleveland looked anything but the sixth-worst offense in the league, driving 70 yards in 4:35 to take a 7-0 leads thanks to a 26-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Trent Richardson.
But from then on, the Chargers defense got the best of the Cleveland offense. Still, it was all the home team needed to pull out the 7-6 victory.
“The bottom line is we let them get one more point than we got, so we didn’t play well enough,” linebacker Shaun Phillips said. “I mean, we played solid and we can learn from it and build from it, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the win. The bottom line is just about us on defense making sure that they get one less point than we score on offense and we didn’t do that.”
After the Browns touchdown in the first quarter, San Diego’s defense would force nine consecutive punts, including four three-and-outs and only allowed 180 yards.
Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden finished 11-for-27 for 129 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. Rookie running back Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 122 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries.
Still, the 250 yards and seven points were the fewest the Chargers have allowed all season. Another positive sign was the play of several young defenders who continue to progress.
“I thought Corey Liuget played extremely well yesterday,” said head coach Norv Turner. “He’s made terrific strides each game this year.”
The defensive end certainly did have an outstanding game, posting five tackles, knocking down two passes and recording one sack.
Another young player who continued his terrific play was Donald Butler, who had a team-high 11 tackles. Eric Weddle also stood out to Turner for his tenacious performance, as the All-Pro safety had six tackles and one pass deflected.
Still, it wasn’t enough for the Bolts to get the victory, and in the end, that is all that matters. It’s also the reason why the team is going back to the drawing board in preparation for this Thursday night’s game.
“We just have to focus on doing whatever we got to do to make one more play than the other team,” Phillips said. “We want to win the turnover battle. That’s something we always focus on is winning the turnover battle. We didn’t make the plays when it counted and we just have to go back to the drawing board and have a short memory and get ready for Kansas City.”