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The Journal Gazette

Monday, December 04, 2017 1:00 am

Los Angeles 19 Cleveland 10

Surging Chargers hold off Browns

GREG BEACHAM | Associated Press

CARSON, Calif. – After Adrian Phillips' late interception sealed the Los Angeles Chargers' third straight victory, they left their new home field as a first-place team.

Their miserable 0-4 start to the season seemed as if it happened years ago.

The 0-12 Cleveland Browns' nightmare still won't end. Not even against the only opponent they've beaten in nearly two years.

Philip Rivers passed for 344 yards and hit Keenan Allen for a touchdown, and the surging Chargers moved into a tie for first in the AFC West with a 19-10 victory over the winless Browns on Sunday.

Allen had 10 catches for 105 yards in his third straight big game for the Chargers (6-6), who have won six of eight to pull even with Oakland and slumping Kansas City atop the division with four games to go.

“No one ever flinched,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “At 0-4, we still had a lot of football left, and that's how we've always looked at it. To be in this position doesn't surprise me at all, because guys have worked hard and they're committed to the process. They never stopped believing.”

New kicker Travis Coons hit four field goals as the Chargers grinded out a win over the Browns, whose only victory in their previous 30 games was a 20-17 win over the then-San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve last season.

Cleveland trailed 19-7 entering the fourth quarter, and Zane Gonzalez hit an early field goal before the Browns mounted a long drive.

But Joey Bosa forced a fumble with a sack of DeShone Kizer deep in Chargers territory, and Denzel Perryman recovered with 4:48 left. The Browns had another drive deep into scoring territory, but Phillips' pick ended it.

Josh Gordon had four catches for 84 yards in his first game since 2014 for the Browns. The talented receiver had been suspended for over 21/2 seasons for numerous violations of the NFL's substance abuse policies, but was reinstated last month.

Kizer passed for 215 yards and hit rookie David Njoku for a 28-yard TD late in the first half for the Browns.

“All season, you can see that we're very close to getting where we want to go,” said Kizer, who went 15 for 32 and was sacked three times. “But I can definitely sense in this locker room that close isn't cutting it anymore. We need to get over that hill.”