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Browns QB Kizer shows progress in loss

Sports Xchange - Tuesday 14th November, 2017

BEREA, Ohio -- After being unable to hold a 13-12 halftime lead while losing to the Minnesota Vikings 33-16 on Oct. 29, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson said his team had to play "perfect" to win a game.

That observation could have been made again on Sunday after the Browns lost 38-24 to the Detroit Lions on the road. The Browns jumped to a 10-0 lead and DeShone Kizer played his best game of the season. But a rib injury late in the third quarter forced the rookie quarterback out of the game temporarily. By the time he returned with less than five minutes remaining, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had thrown his second and third touchdown passes of the game.

"Obviously, disappointed in yesterday's loss but not discouraged," Jackson said on Monday. "Disappointed and discouraged are two different things in my mind. The chase for perfection in everything we do is real. We have to do that to give ourselves the best chance to have success to win."

The Browns are 0-9 in 2017 and 1-24 under Jackson. With only seven games remaining, they are on their way to their 10th consecutive losing season. Kizer was just 11 years old the last time (10-6 in 2007) the Browns finished with a winning record.

"We had our chances, but couldn't finish it, so on we go," Jackson said. "I think our guys are fighting. We're not by any stretch going to lay down. We're just going to keep working at it and we need to continue to get better. I saw some improvement in some areas, but not totally where we need to be yet."

Kizer protected the ball well for the second straight game. That's a big plus going forward. He threw one interception, but that came late in the game on a fourth-and-goal from the 4. He proved he is tough by coming back from the rib injury to finish the game and he showed his confidence wasn't shattered by the Browns' ill-fated attempt to trade for Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron on Oct. 31. The trade fell through because the Browns failed to get their paperwork in on time.

"This is about not only my confidence, but earning the respect and trust of my teammates," Kizer said. "It's obvious in that bye week there was a potential acquisition of another quarterback. That puts a little pressure on me and my relationship with my guys. I think this was an opportunity to prove to those guys that no matter what happens, this is who I am and I'm going to continue to get better every time I step onto the field."

Kizer completed 21 of 37 passes for 232 yards with one touchdown pass before throwing the interception.

The Browns lost more than a game in Detroit. Outside linebacker Jamie Collins suffered a right MCL injury in the first quarter and did not return. On Monday, Jackson announced Collins will be out the rest of the season.

--Trailing 17-10, the Browns had the ball on second-and-goal at the Lions 2 with 15 seconds remaining in the first half and no timeouts left. Quarterback DeShone Kizer had time to throw two passes, but he changed the play at the line of scrimmage.

"We had a different play called," tight end Seth DeValve said. "DeShone took it upon himself to sneak it, which is not a bad thing to do. That was DeShone doing his thing. He has the freedom to do that. We didn't get it and that was unfortunate, but we moved on."

The Browns scored the first two touchdowns of the third quarter, but then the Lions scored 21 unanswered points without the benefit of a takeaway.

--Backup quarterback Cody Kessler took over when starter DeShone Kizer was knocked out temporarily with a rib injury with six seconds left in the third quarter. Kessler completed one pass in three attempts for 5 yards. He took seven snaps and was sacked three times. Kizer was sacked only once.

"He went in there and battled," head coach Hue Jackson said. "He didn't hit all of the balls that I'm sure he wanted to. That happens when you're the backup. You walk into the game and you want to do that. I'm sure Cody is out there trying as hard as he can and didn't have some luck that way.

"When he goes out there, he gets it. 'I have to go make plays for the football team to be successful until DeShone is able to come back.' We just didn't do that yesterday."

NOTES: LB Jamie Collins (right knee) suffered an MCL sprain in the first quarter and did not return. He will miss the rest of the season. ... RT Shon Coleman (concussion) left Sunday's game in the third quarter and did not return. ... RT Zach Banner replaced Shon Coleman at right tackle. He was inactive the first eight games. ... TE Randall Telfer (eye) left the game and did not return. ... K Zane Gonzalez, after missing an extra point and a field goal against the Vikings on Oct. 29 in the last game the Browns played, was 3-for3 on extra points and hit from 23 yards on his only field-goal attempt. ... DE Emmanuel Ogbah had three tackles, all for lost yardage. Two were sacks.

REPORT CARD VS. LIONS

--PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer had his best game of the season, though the numbers don't tell the whole story -- 21 of 37 for 232 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception. He was in command and passed with confidence. A fumble by tight end Seth DeValve that Lions cornerback Devin Lawson scooped up and returned 44 yards for a touchdown was a costly error. Cody Kessler replaced Kizer for one play and two series. He completed one pass and was sacked three times.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- The Browns had their best running attack of the season for a simple reason: They didn't fall behind by two touchdowns until only 4:28 remained. Running back Isaiah Crowell ran with confidence and power to finish with a season-high 90 yards on 16 carries. Duke Johnson had 10 carries; his previous high was seven. The Browns rushed for 201 yards as a team.

--PASS DEFENSE: D -- Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes in the second half and posted a 118.9 passer rating. It is typical of what most quarterbacks have done to the Browns all season. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 19 touchdown passes and six interceptions and have a 104.4 passer rating through nine games. By comparison, the Browns' quarterbacks have thrown eight touchdown passes, 18 interceptions and have a 57.8 passer rating. Sloppy tackling by the Browns' secondary allowed the Lions to sustain drives.

--RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus -- Run defense has been consistently strong, but the Lions had success moving inside and averaged 5.5 yards a carry. They ran the ball only 19 times. Ameer Abdullah led the way with 52 yards on 11 carries. One of the most remarkable statistics from the Lions' victory is they scored 31 points on offense on a total of 49 offensive plays.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Zane Gonzalez had a perfect day kicking -- 1-for-1 on field goals, 3-for-3 on extra points and 5-for-5 on touchbacks. The biggest problem the Browns had on special teams was covering Lions punt returner Jamal Agnew. A 29-yard return by Agnew to the Browns 44 set up the touchdown that put the Lions ahead 38-24.

--COACHING: C -- Head coach Hue Jackson mixed his play-calling well. The Browns churned out 413 yards of offense. But Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was able to find a weakness in nearly every scheme called by Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The Lions averaged 7 yards per offensive play. Seven of Detroit's 49 offensive plays gained 20 or more yards.

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