The Browns put together an outstanding defensive performance, holding the Chargers without a touchdown and 18 points below their season average. What makes it more outstanding is the fact the Cleveland defense did this without four starters in its front seven.
Rookies John Hughes (third round) and Billy Winn (sixth round) replaced veteran defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. Rookie James-Michael Johnson (fourth round) and Kaluka Maiava have taken over for outside linebackers Scott Fujita and Chris Gocong, both of whom are on injured reserve.
In Sunday's win, Johnson forced a fumble that Winn recovered. Then, on the Chargers' final play of the game, another backup stepped up. Cornerback Buster Skrine tipped away Philip Rivers' fourth-and-10 pass to preserve the victory.
"Let's not kid anybody here, our defense won us that football game," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "You know field position was a struggle, the weather was a struggle but games like that in those conditions to have our defense play like they did, they won the football game for us. If I had a game ball I'd give it to those guys. They played their tails off and made play after play against a really good offense."
The Browns' defense, which had allowed 27.1 points in its first six games, has now given up three field goals in its past six quarters.
OVERHEARD: “I haven’t had a game like that since ’06 when I played with the Royals,” quarterback (and former minor-league pitcher) Brandon Weeden said of the 7-6 score.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Browns (2-6), who have won two straight at home, play host to the Ravens (5-2), who have won nine straight over Cleveland.