The Cleveland Browns found themselves in the unusual situation of actively helping the opponent score a touchdown during Sunday’s game.
The Browns were nursing a 42-41 lead with 1:31 left, but the Los Angeles Chargers had the ball at Cleveland's three-yard line. That meant a chip shot game-winning field goal was essentially inevitable. It also meant the Chargers were trying to run down as much clock as possible so Cleveland wouldn’t have time to get the ball back and score as well. That was made clear when running back Austin Ekeler took a knee at the three, making the strategy clear and prompting the Browns to use their final timeout.
Ekeler got the carry again on the next play and was obviously looking to go down short of the end zone, which would have allowed more time to tick off the clock. The Browns were smart enough to know that, and responded by essentially pushing and pulling Ekeler into the end zone themselves. The touchdown gave the Chargers the lead, but ensured the Browns would get the ball back with a minute and a half left.
This is amazing. On the player prior to this, Austin Ekeler took a knee and made sure not to score so the #Chargers can continue to milk the clock.
On the next play, the #Browns literally carried Ekeler into the endzone.
Cleveland will get the ball back.pic.twitter.com/Zkg5jNJdjn
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 10, 2021
The strategy didn’t pay off, as the Browns ended up losing 47-42. There is no denying they did the smartest thing they could have done in this spot, though.
Late game clock management situations can lead to some really weird and unusual situations where offenses don’t want to score and defenses want to give up touchdowns. There was a particularly memorable one last year that cost one team dearly. This one certainly falls into the same category.