Final score: Browns 7, Chargers 6 (Trent Richardson, defense and weather unplug Chargers; Marla Ridenour's column about Richardson fighting through his rib injury; cornerback Buster Skrine delivers in clutch; notebook -- Hall of Famer Jim Brown upbeat about Richardson; thumbs up/thumbs down)
End 4Q: Browns 7, Chargers 6 —The Browns opened the Jimmy Haslam era by ending the game in victory formation. The Chargers drove to the Browns 44-yard line, but four passes from Rivers went incomplete, the last tipped by Buster Skrine. Trent Richardson ended the game with 122 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown and one catch for 12 yards.
End 3Q: Browns 7, Chargers 6 — The Chargers drew closer with Novak’s 31-yard field goal with 2:33 left in the third quarter. The Browns weren’t able to do much of anything on offense and lost the field-position battle, eventually resulting in points the other way. Luckily for Cleveland, Chargers receiver Robert Meachem dropped a would-be touchdown at the Browns’ 23-yard line after he beat T.J. Ward. As the quarter ended, Weeden hit Greg Little for 22 yards and Josh Gordon for 26 yards but the drive was ended with a sack by rookie Corey Liuget.
End 2Q: Browns 7, Chargers 3 – The Chargers got on the scoreboard on the final play of the half with Nick Novak’s 43-yard field goal as time expired. Trent Richardson has 86 yards rushing on 15 carries. Richardson left the game for a few minutes before returning. The Browns have had two drives stalled inside the Chargers’ 42-yard line. Reggie Hodges had one punt downed at the 12 and another sailed into the end zone for an 18-yard net. Brandon Weeden is 6-12 for 49 yards passing.
End 1Q: Browns 7, Chargers 0 -- Playing in miserable conditions, the Browns and Chargers each took to the ground. The Browns defense stopped the Chargers on fourth-and-1 on their own 30-yard line thanks to T.J. Ward’s tackle of Jackie Battle at the line of scrimmage. Trent Richardson then put the Browns on the scoreboard with a 26-yard touchdown run in which he broke two tackles and was then kept upright by guard Shane Lauvao on his way to the end zone. Richardson ran for 49 yards on five carries on that drive. Just before the end of the half, James-Michael Johnson forced a fumble that Billy Winn recovered at the Chargers’ 46-yard line. Johnson also had four tackles in the Chargers’ first drive.
Inactives: Browns – wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), running back Brandon Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson (knee), fullback Owen Marecic, defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf) and offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw (illness). Notes: As expected, rookie running back Trent Richardson (rib) is active and will start. How he holds up while taking hits will determine his workload. The only surprise scratch is Marecic, who’s healthy. This season, Marecic has dropped four passes and has yet to make a catch. Tight end Alex Smith is active, so he could serve as a fullback in Marecic’s absence. Massaquoi will miss his fifth consecutive game. He was listed as questionable heading into today. Patterson and Rubin were ruled out Friday. Patterson will miss his third game in a row. Rubin will miss his second game in three weeks. Chargers – slot receiver Eddie Royal (hamstring), strong safety Brandon Taylor, cornerback Shareece Wright (foot), cornerback Marcus Gilchrist, linebacker Jonas Mouton (hip), defensive tackle Antonio Garay and tight end Ladarius Green.
Lineup changes: Browns – rookie defensive tackle John Hughes will start in place of Rubin; rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon will start in place of Massaquoi; and rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson will start in place of Scott Fujita, who’s on injured reserve. Chargers – none.
Storylines by Stephanie Storm: 1. Today is the first home game in the Jimmy Haslam/Joe Banner era. The sale of the Browns from previous owner Randy Lerner to Haslam was officially completed Thursday, nine days after the sale was approved by NFL owners in Chicago. Banner, the new CEO, was scheduled to begin his tenure with the Browns on Thursday, but was called away due to the death of his father. He spent the past 19 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. 2. Left guard Jason Pinkston was placed on injured reserve last week after he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. Pinkston was released from the hospital and visited his teammates Wednesday, but he is out of action for the remainder of the season. Youngstown native and University of Toledo standout John Greco started in Pinkston’s place last week and played well. He will start again today. 3. Veteran linebacker Scott Fujita (neck) was also placed on injured reserve. Fujita, an 11-year veteran, hasn’t played since Oct. 7 against the New York Giants and is contemplating retirement. Rookie James-Michael Johnson has filled in for Fujita at strongside linebacker. The Browns selected Johnson in the fourth round of the draft out of Nevada. 4. The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Chargers, who desperately needed the break after back-to-back collapses against the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos. In a 31-24 loss, the Chargers allowed the Saints to turn a 10-point deficit into a seven-point win, giving up 17 unanswered points. Things got even worse when the Chargers blew a 24-point first-half lead by giving up 35 unanswered points in the second half in a 35-24 loss to the Broncos. 5. The Browns and Chargers share plenty of player and coaching connections. Chargers offensive lineman Rex Hadnot spent the 2008 and ’09 seasons with the Browns. … Chargers offensive line coach Mike Sullivan was a Browns assistant line coach for a combined six seasons (2001-04 and 2007-08). … Chargers college scout Jim Jauch spent five seasons in the Browns personnel department (2004-09).
Links to preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Browns know key to upsetting Chargers lies in forcing turnovers. 2. Matchup of the week: Browns vs. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. 3. Keys to the game. 4. Quote of the week. 5. Numbers to watch. 6. Injury report. 7. Predictions.