The LA Chargers and Cleveland Browns went toe-to-toe in an instant classic in Week 5 that the Bolts emerged victoriously in, 47-42. It was a back and forth shootout and after a game like this, both fanbases should be tipping their caps to the other team.
If the result was flipped, while painful, the Browns would have earned the respect of Charger fans. We here at Bolt Beat would have chalked it up as a tough L and moved on to preparing for next week against the Baltimore Ravens.
That was not the takeaway from the fans nor the Browns themselves. Instead of giving credit where credit was due, the storyline out of Cleveland is that the referees screwed the Browns out of a win. The one play that has been brought up consistently is the pass interference call on a fourth-down attempt in the fourth quarter that moved the chains.
Both Myles Garrett and Baker Mayfield complained about the officiating after the game. While they somewhat took credit for the loss, they definitely did not give the Chargers credit for the win and seem to think they should not have lost.
Well, here is a news flash to anyone in Cleveland who thinks the same thing...
It is the Cleveland Browns' fault, not the officiating, that they lost to the LA Chargers in Week 5.
Was the officiating perfect? Not at all. But is it ever perfect? Never. Were there calls in this game that the LA Chargers should have gotten but didn't? Absolutely. This is by no means an attempt to make an excuse for missed calls.
The pass interference call on Mike Williams is definitely one that could go either way, but it was not outright egregious. We have seen that exact same play be called pass interference before. In a big moment, on fourth down with the game essentially on the line, of course, the referees are going to be more nitpicky and call something by the book.
But guess what? Even with that call, the Browns could have still won. The LA Chargers scored a touchdown and missed the extra point and were still trailing 42-41. The Browns offense got the ball back with 3:15 left in the game. The Browns really just had to string a drive together and waste time and they win that game.
But they didn't. The Browns went three and out. They ran for one yard on first down, threw an incompletion on second down and then on third and nine decided to run a draw play for three yards instead of attempting the pass.
That tells you all you need to know. Sure, they were running the ball great in that game, but the chances of picking up a first down on third and nine with a run is far lower than in a pass. And instead of attempting a pass and putting trust in Baker Mayfield, they handed the ball off and took the punt.
They had the win in their hands and punted it away to Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers. That is something Brandon Staley would never do. He would put his foot on the Browns' throat and go out and win the game.
The Browns played passively and they paid for it. No matter what happened with the officials earlier in the game, there is absolutely nobody to blame but themselves. Instead of beating the Chargers, they played possum and let the Chargers beat them.
Ironically enough, Tristan Vizcaino's missed extra point may have helped the LA Chargers. If he makes that perhaps the Browns would have actually tried to drive downfield instead of just accepting their fate and punting the ball back to LA.