Browns shock Chargers
CLEVELAND — Trent Richardson broke one tackle, then another and was gone.
The San Diego Chargers couldn't stop the rookie running back who might be the one to make Cleveland relevant once more. On a day when every yard counted, Richardson delivered a dominating performance that even made Hall of Famer Jim Brown swell with pride.
“Great running backs break tackles,” Brown said following Cleveland's 7-6 win Sunday. “You do that, you are in control. You keep the ball. The other team is disheartened. That's football.”
And that's why the Browns chose Richardson.
Cleveland's rookie running back, still playing with a rib injury, rushed for 122 yards in nasty weather and scored the game's only touchdown on a 26-yard run to lead Browns (2-6) to their second straight win at home.
Following the game, Brown, who called Richardson an “ordinary” back when Cleveland selected the Alabama star No. 3 overall, was waiting at the young star's locker.
Richardson has made even Brown a believer.
“That's my partner,” Brown said. “I'm so happy he didn't take anything I said the wrong way. He's a player. He's making sacrifices for his team. He's hurting now more than you think, and he's out there making plays.”
Richardson, pulled last week at Indianapolis when he was ineffective because of a rib injury, carried 24 times as the Browns gave new owner Jimmy Haslam his first win since taking over the franchise. Haslam was presented with a game ball by coach Pat Shurmur in Cleveland's jubilant locker room.
“It feels good,” linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said of rewarding Haslam, who shelled out $1.05 billion for the Browns. “You always want to put a smile on his face.”
Richardson's TD to cap Cleveland's first drive was like many they used to get from the incomparable Brown, who either outran or carried defenders to the end zone. It was No. 32 who helped make the Browns one of the league's most storied teams, and Cleveland has a new runner who may one day get them back to the top.
Two plays after quarterback Brandon Weeden converted on fourth-and-1 with a sneak to keep the drive alive, Richardson took a handoff up the middle, broke two tackles and was kept upright by right guard Shawn Lauvao, who wrapped his hands around his teammate, before scampering in for his fifth TD.
Richardson said once he was deep in San Diego's secondary there was no stopping him.
“They don't want no problems,” he said.
The Chargers (3-4) dropped their third straight. San Diego had a final chance, but quarterback Philip Rivers' pass was batted away by Browns cornerback Buster Skrine with 1:24 left. Rivers finished 18 of 34 for 154 yards but had a potential touchdown pass dropped by Robert Meachem in the third quarter.