CLEVELAND -- The Browns drafted Trent Richardson to have days like these, when he is the offense, and it's still enough for Cleveland to cash in a victory.
Richardson had his best rushing game of the season Sunday and scored the only touchdown of the game to carry the Browns past the Chargers, 7-6, on a dreary rain-soaked afternoon.
The reeling Chargers, 3-4, have lost three straight. The Browns, 0-5 to start the season, are 2-6.
Richardson rushed for 122 yards one week after being held to eight yards in Indianapolis, when he appeared to be bothered by a rib injury. The Browns held off one final drive by San Diego that started at the Chargers' 11 with 2:38 to play and ended on an incomplete pass from the Browns 44 with 1:24 left.
"I thought it was going just right," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "I thought when we got out there in warm-ups it was going to be a 10-3 game or a 17-14 game and unfortunately it was 7-6 in Cleveland's favor."
Normally, the Browns throw the ball twice as often as they run it, but the numbers flipped Sunday while they nursed a lead they held from their first possession through the rest of the game.
"I haven't had a game like that since '06 when I played with the Royals," said Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, a former minor league pitcher. "I've never been part of a football game like that. As long as we're on the good end of it, that's all that matters."
The Chargers stayed on the ground in the rain, too, relying on Ryan Mathews, but with 8:52 left in the third quarter, wide receiver Robert Meachem got behind the Browns defense on third-and-nine from the Chargers 49 and dropped what would have been a sure touchdown pass at the Browns 12.
"I took my eyes off it," Meachem said. "I thought about scoring first before I caught the ball. Big-time players make big-time plays."
The Chargers had other chances. They had first-and-10 on the Browns 18 with 4:04 left in the third quarter and had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Nick Novak to cut the Browns lead to 7-6.
Richardson played with a rib injury last week and said he "just wasn't myself" against the Colts.
On Sunday he ran with the ball like the Browns thought he would when they took him third in the 2012 draft. He burst through behind a block from the right guard, broke two tackles and ran by safety Atari Bigby on his way to the end zone on a 26-yard run the first time the Browns had the ball.
"I thought our guys up front blocked our runs for the most part pretty well," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "They handled it well and Trent ran hard. There's no question he ran hard."
San Diego did not score until its final possession of the half when Novak kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter. The Chargers wanted more; they had first-and-10 at the Browns 22 with 38 seconds left in the half but did not penetrate past the 17.
NOTES: Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi was inactive for the fifth straight game because of a hamstring injury. ... Chargers punt returner/wide receiver Eddie Royal was inactive for the Chargers. Safety Eric Weddle returned punts in his place. ... Fullback Owen Marecic was a healthy scratch for the Browns.