Melvin Gordon ran for three touchdowns and Philip Rivers threw for two more and the Chargers manhandled the Browns 38-14 on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
Gordon scored from four yards out in the first quarter and from 10 and 11 yards out in the third period. He finished with 132 yards on 18 carries as the Chargers pounded out 246 yards on the ground.
Rivers was masterful orchestrating an efficient offense against the league’s most opportunistic defense. The Browns came in leading the NFL in takeaways, but managed only one meaningless interception of Rivers.
Rivers was a pedestrian 11 of 20 for 207 yards, but what wasn’t pedestrian was the second-quarter drive that ignited the Chargers and seemed to deflate the Browns.
Leading 7-3 and starting on the Chargers’ 11-yard line, Rivers dropped back and found Tyrell Williams down the middle of the field for a 44-yard gain. On the next play, Rivers threw to the end zone where Williams was triple-teamed but was able to out-wrestle a Cleveland defender for a touchdown and a 14-3 Los Angeles lead.
From there it was all Chargers as Los Angeles won for the third straight game.
Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield had the worst game of his career. He completed 22 of 46 for 238 yards, one touchdown and was intercepted twice. The Chargers sacked Mayfield five times but was in his grill nearly every time he dropped back to pass.
To his credit, Mayfield pointed the finger at himself.
“We did not execute. We did not do our job. We were not detailed,” Mayfield told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We did not do the things that we talked about all week. That is the most disappointing thing. Anytime you do not do your job. … I am at fault for majority of that. I am going to be very hard on myself.
“I will be the first to tell you that I am going to go to work and get this fixed.”
Mayfield’s back was up against the wall to start. The Browns had only four healthy wide receivers at the start of the game. By the end there were only three and two of them, rookies Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley, dropped passes in the end zone.
Mayfield also came up limping after slipping on the downs marker after a first-quarter scramble. He also came up limping after a second-quarter sack.
While Mayfield was getting banged around, Rivers put on a clinic, starting with the first drive, which resulted in Gordon finding pay dirt from the 4-yard line.
Gordon now has nine total touchdowns on the season.
NOTES: The Chargers travel to London to take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Week 7. … Starting Cleveland MLB Joe Schobert was lost for the game in the third quarter with a pulled hamstring. … On a play that saw Philip Rivers throw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Williams, the referees missed a false start by left tackle Russell Okung that should have nullified the score.