Brandon Staley trusted his gut, the analytics and his offense.

He got very lucky.

The Chargers coach defiantly defended his decision not to punt on fourth down with 1:14 remaining after Los Angeles held on for a 30-28 win over Cleveland when Browns rookie kicker Cade York missed a 54-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.

With his team at its own 46 and clinging to its two-point lead, Staley called a timeout. But instead of punting, he had quarterback Justin Herber t attempt a short pass on fourth-and-1 for Mike Williams that fell incomplete.

The ball went back to the Browns, but York’s kick sailed right and allowed the Chargers (3-2) to escape with a win Staley tried to give away.

Afterward, Staley was adamant he’d do it again.

“We just wanted to finish the game with the ball,” said Staley, who has built a reputation for taking risks. “We wanted to finish the game on our terms and really felt the slant to Mike would be the play call there. We liked it.


Cleveland had no timeouts and drove to the Chargers 35 to set up a winning shot for York, but the big-legged draft pick from LSU, couldn’t convert. He earlier missed a 45-yard attempt.

“Hit it well, my head was still down, thought it was straight, right down the middle, I looked up and it was just outside,” York said. “Got to get over it, 24 hours and get over it. It’s the first time I’ve ever missed it twice in a game.”

Herbert, who came in leading the NFL in yards passing, finished 22 of 34 for 228 yards, ending his streak of consecutive road games with at least 300 yards at seven.

While Staley’s decision is being second-guessed, Herbert had no issues whatsoever with his coach’s call.

“It says a lot that he believes in us as a head coach to get the job done,” Herbert said. “It didn’t go our way, but we’re riding that play and we’re riding with our guys every time.”

Austin Ekeler rushed for a career-high 173 yards and scored twice as Los Angeles, which came in last in the league in rushing, leaned on its ground game to win its second shootout in two seasons with the Browns (2-3).