Browns win for new owner, edge Chargers 7-6

Browns win for new owner, edge Chargers 7-6

CLEVELAND (AP) Catching a short pass from coach Pat Shurmur, new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam tucked away the game ball, a reward for his first win.

Haslam beamed and everyone in Cleveland's locker room, including legendary running back Jim Brown, basked in the glow of victory.

On a gray, stormy Sunday, this was a bright new beginning. For a change, this was a step forward for the Browns.

Rookie Trent Richardson rushed for a season-high 122 yards and a touchdown, Cleveland's defense kept San Diego out of the end zone and the Browns benefited from a big drop in a 7-6 win, Haslam's first since buying the club for $1.05 billion.

``It feels good,'' Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said of satisfying Haslam. ``You always want to put a smile on his face.''

Richardson did just that with a performance that even had the tough-to-please Brown swelling with pride. When the Browns drafted Richardson with the No. 3 overall pick in April's draft, Brown had labeled the former Alabama star as ``ordinary.''

But after seeing Richardson, who still hasn't fully recovered from a rib cartilage injury, overpower the Chargers, Brown had nothing but compliments for a player who wants to break all his records in Cleveland.

``That's my partner, man,'' Brown said. ``He's done everything I thought he should do. He never took anything I said the wrong way. He's interested in his family. He's interested in this team. And he's willing to make sacrifices because really, he's hurt more than you think he is right now.''

With winds gusting to 40 mph making every pass an adventure, the Browns (2-6) turned their offense over to Richardson, who gained just 8 yards on eight carries last week at Indianapolis before Shurmur benched him for being ineffective.

But against a San Diego defense that came in allowing just 71.2 yards per game - second-best in the NFL - Richardson rumbled. He broke several tackles on a 26-yard TD run that opened the scoring and gave the Browns all the points they'd need against the Chargers (3-4), who dropped their third straight game.

``Great running backs break tackles,'' Brown said. ``You do that, you are in control. You keep the ball. The other team is disheartened. That's football.''

And that's why the Browns chose Richardson.

Two plays after quarterback Brandon Weeden picked up a first down on a fourth-and-1 sneak to keep Cleveland's opening drive alive, Richardson took a handoff up the middle, broke two tackles and was kept upright by right guard Shawn Lauvao, who wrapped his hands around his teammate, and shoved him toward the goal line.

Richardson said once he was deep in San Diego's secondary there was no stopping him.

``They don't want no problems,'' said Richardson, who also picked up a critical first down in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard reception.

Weeden finished 11 of 27 for 129 yards, and afterward the former minor league pitcher joked that the score reminded him of some days on the mound.

``I haven't had a game like that since `06 when I played with the Royals,'' he cracked. ``I've never been a part of a football game like that. But as long as I'm on the good end of it, that's all that matters.''

San Diego's offense sputtered for most of the game, but the Chargers had a final chance in the final two minutes. However, quarterback Philip Rivers' pass was batted away by Browns cornerback Buster Skrine with 1:24 left. Rivers finished 18 of 34 for 154 yards, but had a potential touchdown pass dropped by Robert Meachem in the third quarter.

``It could have been a big play,'' Rivers said. ``There were a lot of chances, not just that one.''

With the Chargers trailing 7-3, Meachem dropped what would have been a 51-yard TD pass. On third-and-9, Meachem slipped behind Cleveland's defensive backs and was wide open at about the 25-yard line as he awaited Rivers' throw.

But when the ball arrived, Meachem let it slip through his hands.

``I took my eyes off of it,'' Meachem said. ``I thought about scoring first before I caught the ball. Big play in the game. Big-time players make big-time plays, and that's a play you have to make in a game like this. It could have been the momentum changer. You never know.''

Just a week ago, the Browns had a similar miscue when rookie Josh Gordon dropped a potential TD pass at the goal line. TV cameras caught Haslam's emotional reaction, swiping the air with his hand in frustration. There would be none of that on this day as the Browns capped a trying week off the field.

On Thursday, incoming CEO Joe Banner missed his first day with the Browns to be with his father, who died the following day in Boston. Also, Bryan Wiedmeier, the team's executive vice president of business affairs was rushed to the Cleveland Clinic on Thursday after feeling disoriented and had surgery to have a brain tumor removed.

Wiedmeier is recovering at home and Shurmur intends to present him with a game ball.

As Shurmur wrapped up his postgame remarks to the Browns, he was about to tell the players they would be off until Wednesday when he was interrupted.

``They all said, `Nope coach, we'll see you tomorrow,''' Shurmur said. ``They want to work. That's an impressive thing for our team.''

And just maybe the start of something new.

NOTES: Nick Novak kicked field goals of 43 and 31 yards for San Diego. ...Richardson has five rushing TDs, most by a Browns rookie since William Green had six in 2002. ... The Chargers have gone six quarters without a TD. ... Chargers KR Richard Goodman injured his hamstring returning the opening kickoff and did not return. ... Browns DE Emmanuel Stephens sustained a neck injury in the first half and sat the rest of the game. ... Rivers made his 103rd consecutive start, second to only Eli Manning (127) among all active QBs. ... Jackson was credited with 14 tackles.


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Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired


Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired

On the newest banner that hangs from the rafters at Capital One Arena, a small microphone - embroidered with a white 33 - is subtly stitched into the bottom left corner. 

You'd barely notice it was there; Phil Chenier certainly didn't.

Chenier, who had his #45 jersey retired tonight during halftime of tonight's Wizards-Nuggets game, didn't even notice the mic, added to signify his three decades as a broadcaster with the team.

"I had no idea there was even a mic on it," Chenier said, laughing. "I'll have to go back out and look at it some more."

Despite the Wizards' 108-100 loss, the night was first and foremost a celebration of Chenier - the 5th player in franchise history to have his number rasied in the rafters. He joins Earl Monroe, Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson, and Wes Unseld as the only players to achieve the honor so far.

"To be up there with the other 4 names means a lot – people I had the fortune of playing with," he added. "I remember my first day of practice and I had just watched this team play in the finals and now I’m plopped down with Wes Unfeld and Earl Monroe and Gus Johnson. It seemed like they accepted me from the get go."

Many from that 1978 Championship team were in attendance on Friday night, watching as one of their teammates cemented his professional legacy. For Chenier, that acceptance as an All-Time Bullets great is at the core of why he played the game.

"You know, when you play this game, you play for acceptance," he said. "You want to be the best, you want to be accepted. Having players and childhood friends – and of course, your family – here, you’re surrounded by so many people that meant a lot to you both before and now. It’s a really humbling feeling.”

It was hard to find someone in DC without something good to say about Chenier on Friday night. Even in the basement of Capital One Center, after the Wizards' fifth loss in seven games, head coach Scott Brooks took a moment out of his press conference to praise Chenier. 

"[Chenier] is a great ambassador and we all love him," Brooks said. "It's well deserved. It's going to be pretty cool seeing his jersey every time we step into this building."

Fans left the arena with a commemorative Phil Chenier cut out. Phil Chenier left the arena with his number retired. The experience was, according to the man himself, everything he thought it'd be. 

"You don’t know what the emotions are going to be..." he told media members after the ceremony."...Obviously it’s something I thought about, but it really was exciting to see the 45 up there and my name."

Then Chenier cracked a smile.

"I’m glad it’s over with."

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another loss: It is becoming more and more clear that the Wizards need a shot in the arm, something to change the direction of where they are currently heading.

Whether that will come in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall returning from his months-long absence, an adjustment to their lineup or strategy, or something else entirely, the losses are piling up and at a tough time in the season.

With another loss on Friday night, their seventh in their last 11 games, the Wizards are now 40-32. They have plenty of room to still clinch a playoff berth, as their magic number stands at two, but they only have 10 games left to secure their all-important playoff seed.

Both the Pacers and Cavaliers, two teams just ahead of them in the playoff race, won on Friday.

The Wizards lost their second straight game and again offense was their problem. They scored 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers.

Big third quarter: The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a team on the rise, a young squad with burgeoning stars that could someday soon make some noise in the Western Conference. The reason is because they are very good on offense. Defense is a much different story.

That was not the case on Friday night, as the Wizards had all sorts of trouble scoring in three of their four quarters. They managed just 43 points by halftime, the fewest the Nuggets have allowed in a first half since Jan. 27.

The Wizards, though, did get cooking in the third quarter. They erupted for 33 points in the frame while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three. Markieff Morris, who finished with 17, had 11 points in the third quarter and Bradley Beal (24 points) hit three threes.

The Wizards also found a solution for Jamal Murray, one of the Nuggets' brightest young stars. He had 20 points at halftime, but went scoreless in nine minutes in the third quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (15 points) was among those who gave him trouble. Murry finished with 25.

The big third quarter reflected well on the Wizards' ability to make adjustments, but their 24-point fourth quarter flipped the script again.


Didn't force mistakes: The first time these teams squared off back in October, the Wizards forced the Nuggets into 23 turnovers. This game was a very different story. 

The Nuggets didn't commit their first turnover until midway through the second quarter and had only three by halftime. They had just 10 turnovers for the game.

Denver deserves some credit for limiting their mistakes, but all of it did not reflect well on the Wizards' defense. They didn't put enough pressure on the ball and failed to disrupt passing lanes like they usually do. It was uncharacteristic, as the Wizards entered the game 10th in average turnovers forced.

Not creating mistakes allowed the Nuggets to get way to many field goal attempts. Though they shot just 43.5 percent, Denver managed 108 points. And not getting turnovers offered the Wizards few opportunities for easy transition buckets.

Turnovers were one issue with the Wizards' defense. So was defending the perimeter, as the Nuggets shot 17-for-34 (50%) from long range. It is worth noting the Nuggets were without their leading scorer Gary Harris, a guy who is dangerous from long range.


Special night: Halftime offered a memorable moment in franchise history as legendary player and broadcast Phil Chenier had his No. 45 jersey retired by the team. His longtime broadcaster and friend Steve Buckhantz hosted the ceremony with about 20 friends and family members of Chenier's seated behind him. Buckhantz had opening comments, then majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke as everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Then, it was Chenier's time to talk. He thanked his former teammates, members of the organization and those close to him. He kept his composure until the very end when he brought up his mother, Peggy, who could not make the event. Chenier choked up and wiped away tears as he described what she has meant to him in his life.

It was a powerful moment and a great ceremony to honor a guy who has impacted the lives of many in the D.C. area. Now, his No. 45 will hang up in the rafters forever. That banner, by the way, features a picture of a microphone and the phrase '33 years,' signifying how long he was the color analyst for Bullets and Wizards games.


Up next: The Wizards do not have a game Saturday, though they are going to practice and Wall is expected to take a big step forward in his rehab. Their next game is Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington when they host the Knicks. That will also be a special game, as the Wizards are set to honor the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship.

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