Browns Hang Tough In Kizer's Debut

  • 9/10/2017 8:08:44 PM
  • Brian Skowronski
  • Local Sports

CLEVELAND, OH- Season openers haven't been kind to the Cleveland Browns since the franchise returned in 1999, losers in an NFL record 13 consecutive Week 1 contests with a 21-18 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. However, with an exciting rookie quarterback and talented young roster, this year's opening day defeat felt more like a moral victory than typical Browns misery.

Rookie QB DeShone Kizer became the third youngest quarterback to ever start an NFL game and he did so against a Steelers team that many believe will be Super Bowl contenders this season. Kizer finished the game 20-30 passing for 222 yards with a touchdown, an interception, and a rushing score to begin his NFL career.

Kizer led Cleveland on an 8-play, 73-yard touchdown drive, capped-off with his first career passing score to Corey Coleman with 3:36 to play in the fourth quarter and converted the 2-point conversion to make it a 3-point game but the Browns offense would not get the ball again. The 21-year-old was also sacked seven times in the game and felt as though he was holding the ball too long at times, but was able to separate the pros and cons from his first NFL performance.

"As a quarterback, it's your job to put your team in a position to score points and win games," Kizer told reporters after the game. "Obviously there's some drives that we're proud of that we're heading in the right direction on but also some lolls within the game that we gotta try to cut back on."

The first offensive drive for Kizer was certainly one to forget as Cleveland lost nine yards and was forced to punt. Pittsburgh blocked that punt and recovered it for a 7-0 lead just 2:16 into the contest, so it couldn't have started much worse for the Browns.

Kizer would lead Cleveland on a 12 play scoring drive later in the quarter to tie the game and the Browns defense held Pittsburgh's potent offensive attack in check for most of the afternoon, limiting the Steelers to just 290 yards of total offense and only 35 yards on the ground. Though he didn't suggest he was happy with the losing performance from his team, Hue Jackson had complimentary things to say about his group after the game.

"I like this football team and we'll keep working," Jackson says. "We'll stay together and if we can stay healthy we'll get to taste victory and that's what we're chasing."

The Browns, of course, finished Jackson's first season at 1-15 but showed a lot of fight and promise in their season debut despite dropping the contest. Cleveland will head to Baltimore in Week 2 for another AFC North battle against the Ravens next Sunday who shut out the Bengals 20-0 in their season opener. 

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