Kicker Travis Coons overcomes rough start in Chargers debut

Chargers 'finding their rhythm' (1:17)

Jeff Saturday says the Chargers' defense and run game are playing strong football, while Ryan Clark points to this team as the one you'd want to play least in the AFC West. (1:17)

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Travis Coons' first kick as a Los Angeles Charger did not go the way he would have liked, as his 38-yard attempt clanged off the right goal post for a miss.

But the University of Washington product made four straight after that, including a 27-yarder that was tipped by a Cleveland Browns defender at the line of scrimmage, but still managed to sail through the uprights.

“He did fine,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said of Coons. “He missed his first kick, and to his credit he bounced back. He finished the game strong."

Coons, who replaced Nick Novak this week after the 36-year-old veteran was placed on injured reserve with a back injury, finished 4-of-5 on the day, with a long of 40 yards. It was the most-ever field goals made by a kicker in his Chargers debut.

“The game in Dallas, I believe, if it had been a close game, we would have lost because of our kicking situation,” Lynn said, referring to the decision to replace Novak with Coons. “I just couldn’t think of putting 52 people back in that position again. If he’s not 100 percent and can’t go out and kick, then we had to make a move. I think we made the best move for our organization.

“[Novak] is a competitor. He wanted to play. He wanted to kick. He wanted to work through it. They all do, but we had to make that decision. It was tough.”

Novak was on the sideline supporting his teammates against Cleveland.

Entering Week 13, the Chargers were successful on 63 percent of their field goal attempts, worst in the NFL. The Chargers also were giving up 25.5 yards per kick return, fifth-worst in the NFL.

Coons had three touchbacks on kickoffs and the Browns had two returns for an average of 25.5 yards per return. The Chargers are hopeful that Coons can bring stability to the kicking situation for the rest of the season.

“Obviously, he missed that first one today and then he had one that got blocked that went through,” Philip Rivers said about Coons’ performance Sunday. "It looked like a pass that went through the goal post.

“But he did a nice job of settling in and making them. He had the rest of them and made the rest of the PATs. If you have a Bolt on your helmet and you’re out there, you believe in your teammates. Certainly, it hasn’t been ideal with the kicking situation. Now that you’re in December and every game and every play matters, hopefully he can settle in as we move forward and everything will go smoothly.”

Here’s the Week 13 snap counts for the Chargers against the Browns.

OFFENSE (Based on 70 snaps)

Quarterback -- Philip Rivers 70.

Running back -- Melvin Gordon 53, Austin Ekeler 20, Derek Watt 7.

Wide receiver -- Keenan Allen 64, Tyrell Williams 51, Travis Benjamin 38, Geremy Davis 6.

Tight end -- Hunter Henry 50, Antonio Gates 27, Jeff Cumberland 24, Sean McGrath 5.

Offensive line -- Russell Okung 70, Dan Feeney 70, Spencer Pulley 70, Kenny Wiggins 70, Joe Barksdale 67, Michael Schofield 8.

In the last three weeks, Rivers has completed 72 percent of his passes (78-of-108) for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s posted a rating of 120.5 over that three-game span. ... The Chargers have put together three straight games of 400-plus yards of offense -- the last time the Bolts accomplished that was Weeks 4-7 in 2015. ... Okung appeared in and started his 100th game of his eight-year NFL career.

DEFENSE (Based on 63 snaps)

Line -- Melvin Ingram 57, Joey Bosa 57, Darius Philon 42, Brandon Mebane 34, Damion Square 20, Tenny Palepoi 18, Chris McCain 18, Jerry Attaochu 6.

Linebacker -- Denzel Perryman 57, Kyle Emanuel 11, Hayes Pullard 11, Jatavis Brown 4.

Secondary -- Tre Boston 63, Jahleel Addae 63, Casey Hayward 63, Trevor Williams 63, Desmond King 52, Adrian Phillips 51, Rayshawn Jenkins 3.

Phillips corralled his second interception of the season in the fourth quarter against Cleveland, giving the Chargers 10 interceptions in their last four games. ... King has three sacks on the year, tying Martin Bayless (1990) for the fifth-most in a single season by a defensive back in team history. ... The Chargers' 37.9 percent red zone efficiency is No. 2 in the NFL. ... Nick Dzubnar leads the Chargers in special teams tackles with 15.