Browns running back Nick Chubb rushed for 161 yards and Baker Mayfield bounced back, going 23 of 32 for 306 yards and two touchdowns. David Njoku had 149 receiving yards for Cleveland (3-2), which has its two defeats after having double-digit leads in the second half.
After Ekeler’s 19-yard screen pass score from Herbert drew the Chargers within 42-41 with 3:15 remaining, Tristan Vizcaino missed his second extra point of the game.
Cleveland went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, setting up the winning five-play, 48-yard drive.
Herbert, who completed 26 of 43 passes, connected with Jared Cook for a 29-yard completion to the Browns 18-yard line. Four plays later, Ekeler went into the end zone.
Mayfield, who completed less than half his passes last week at Minnesota, was on target on his first nine attempts Sunday, which included a 7-yard touchdown to Rashard Higgins early in the second quarter to give the Browns a 10-7 lead.
Chubb went over the 100-yard mark for the 19th time on the opening drive of the third quarter with a 52-yard run off right tackle to extend Cleveland’s lead to 27-13 before the Chargers rallied.
Williams had been the Chargers’ deep threat the past two seasons, but had emerged as a short-route receiver in the new offense during the first four games. That wasn’t the case on Sunday as he had a career-high, 72-yard TD during the second quarter.
After Herbert’ 9-yard keeper and 2-point conversion brought the Bolts within 27-21, the Chargers regained the lead when Williams was left wide open for a 42-yard score.
Browns: Cleveland was already thin in the secondary with rookie CB Greg Newsome II inactive. It got even worse when CB Denzel Ward (neck) was injured during the first half and did not return. The Browns were also missing both starting tackles after right tackle Jack Conklin suffered a knee injury in the third quarter. S M.J. Stewart had a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return.
Chargers: G Oday Aboushi suffered a knee injury during the first quarter and did not return.
Browns: host the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.
Chargers: hit the road to face the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.