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Defense Stays Red Hot to Close Out Browns

With 4:59 remaining in the game, Philip Rivers was on the sideline knowing it was on the offense to close the game out.

The Chargers were clinging to a 19-10 lead, but the Browns were well within field goal territory as they took the snap on a 3rd-and-goal from the Chargers' 15-yard line.

Instead, the defense did what it has done during this dominant three-game winning streak, forcing a turnover in a key situation.

"I loved the way they closed it out," Head Coach Anthony Lynn said.  "They finished the game and (played) smart."

On the pivotal third down play late in the fourth quarter, Joey Bosa came off the line in relentless pursuit, chasing down the speedy DeShone Kizer to hit the quarterback from behind.  The ball came loose and bounced around before Denzel Perryman fell on it to give the Bolts possession.

"The sack-fumble Joey made was huge right there," Rivers said.  "That was one of those, 'Hey, it's fixing to go to 19-13.'  I was over there saying, 'Here comes draw or screen.  (They) kick a field goal and kick it off with five minutes left and make us go do something.' One of those where (if) offensively, we go three-and-out and punt, they are looking to drive and score and beat us 20-10.   (Then) Joey comes up with the sack-fumble.  They continue to get turnovers at key times."

And they weren't done yet.

After getting the ball back with less than two minutes to play down nine, Kizer fired over the middle looking to find tight end Sean DeValve. However, Adrian Phillips read the play perfectly, picking the ball off before taking a knee to seal the win.

"There is honestly no better feeling than that," Phillips said.  "Everybody is counting on each other to make a play.  And then when it becomes your opportunity, and you have the chance to seal it, you've got to go get it.  Our coach called a great defense, I had my eyes on the quarterback, and everything else is God given….  We are hitting our stride right now, and I'm very proud of this defense.  But we still haven't reached our ceiling.  We still have a lot more to do."

One constant throughout Chargers' three-game win streak has been turnover differential.  The offense has not coughed it up once over the past three weeks while the defense has forced 10 takeaways.

"I don't know exactly the numbers, but I think in the last eight weeks we are (first) in the league in turnover differential," Rivers said.  "One thing I do know is that all of these stats can read a lot of different things. But if your turnover margin is where you are, you should win six of eight.  That is a direct correlation to winning.  Not turning the football over and getting turnovers.  That is as direct as you are going to get."

"I think the (defense is) more familiar with the scheme, and they're in position," Lynn added.  "They're playing faster, and they're making plays. They're reacting, and that's what this whole philosophy is all about – it's getting guys where you don't do a whole lot, but what you do, you get really good at, and right now they're playing really good."

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