DETROIT (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns and Lions went back and forth Sunday afternoon at Ford Field but a strong second half by the Lions coupled with a rib injury suffered by DeShone Kizer did them in.
The game featured 3 ties and 4 lead changes but in the end the Lions prevailed 38-24.
Here’s a look at the good and bad from loss No. 9 on the season.
Fast Starts – Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah blew up the Lions’ first possession of the afternoon by sacking quarterback Matthew Stafford for a loss of 4 on first down, then he dropped running back Ameer Abdulla for a loss of 6 on second down that led to Detroit’s first punt after a quick 3-and-out. DeShone Kizer opened with a 38-yard completion to receiver Sammie Coates up the far sideline to set up a first-and-goal. After running for 4 yards on second down, Kizer overthrew tight end David Njoku in the back corner of the end zone allowing Zane Gonzalez to kick a 23-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 11:30 left in the first quarter. Linebacker Jamie Collins took the ball back on third down of the Lions’ second series with his first interception of the season to set the Browns up at the Detroit 31 after Ogbah and Myles Garrett applied pressure to Stafford. In 3 quick plays the Browns cashed in on a Kizer to Kenny Britt 19-yard TD. Britt made cornerback Nevin Lawson whiff and ran by Glover Quin on his way into the end zone for a 10-0 lead.
The Browns started the second half just as quickly. They marched 85 yards in 8 plays capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Crowell to tie the game at 17. They rolled 80 more yards in 10 plays capped by Kizer’s 1-yard QB keeper after he found DeValve for 35 yards for a 24-17 advantage that was unfortunately short-lived.
Going For It – With 4 minutes left in the first quarter and facing a fourth-and-1 from their own 44, Hue Jackson rolled the dice and went for it. Running back Duke Johnson moved the chains by the nose of the football. Gutsy call by Jackson but when you’re up a touchdown and 0-8 on the season, why not go for it? Unfortunately 3 penalties – holding on tight end Seth DeValve and right guard Kevin Zeitler and an illegal formation on right tackle Shon Coleman – in 4 plays killed the drive.
Rushing Attack – The Browns ran for a season-high 201 yards and 2 touchdowns on 33 attempts in the loss. It marked the first time since Dec. 1, 1974 that the Browns had 3 players rush for more than 50 yards in a single game – Isaiah Crowell 90 yards and a TD on 16 carries, Kizer 57 yards and a TD on 7 carries and Duke Johnson 10 carries and 54 yards. For whatever reason the Browns only ran 1 time – a 4-yard gain by Crowell – in 7 offensive snaps with Cody Kessler in the game and the Browns either tied at 24 or trailing 31-24.
Kizer Strong – Kizer had the kind of day Hue Jackson had envisioned until he got blasted late in the third quarter and had to leave the game for a few offensive series. Kizer completed 21 of 37 passes for 232 yards with a touchdown, an interception that came with 90 seconds to play on a fade to the end zone and a 73.3 rating. He also ran 7 times for 57 yards and a TD. It was by far his best performance of the season and reason to believe.
Run Defense – The Browns normally stout run defense got gashed by runs of 20, 10 and 21 yards on consecutive plays – with Garrett, Ogbah and Shelton on the sideline – on 1 drive that eventually ended in a Matt Prater 46-yard field goal with 6:00 left in the 1st quarter to cut Cleveland’s lead to 10-3. Detroit needed just 10 rushes to surpass the average of 84.3 yards per game on the ground allowed by the Browns. They hit 89 when Ameer Abdullah ran up the gut for 9 yards and a TD to tie the game at 10 with 10:25 left in the first half. In total the Browns gave up
DeValve’s Day – DeValve cost the Browns a 29-yard completion to Britt down to the 15 with a holding penalty. He was stripped by Detroit cornerback Nevin Lawson, who scooped it up and ran 44 yards to the house for a 17-10 Lions lead with 3:55 left in the first half, after a 9-yard completion from Kizer. DeValve ended up catching 4 of 6 targets for 70 yards in the loss.
QB Sneak – After moving into the red zone, Kizer ran 18 yards to the Lions 2 with :40 left in the half. Njoku was unable to get both feet down on a fade from Kizer on first down and on second down, with :15 on the clock Kizer kept it and was stuffed for no-gain. The clock expired before Kizer could get everyone lined up in time to kill it. Duke Johnson slammed his helmet in frustration drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that was enforced to start the second half. After the game Jackson and Kizer were mum about what happened with Jackson just taking the blame himself but several players admitted after the game that Kizer called his own number.
Down Goes Kizer – Kizer got leveled by Lions cornerback Quadre Diggs in the ribs with 6 seconds left in the third quarter and had to be walked off with trainers. Cody Kessler took over on third down and was promptly sacked. Kizer walked minutes later with medical personnel to the locker room with a rib injury. He returned with 4:29 to play and the Browns trailing 38-24. When Kizer left the field, so did the momentum Kizer and the offense had.
Where’s The D? – After a fast start the Browns defense vanished completely in the second half. They gave up 3 touchdown drives and 206 yards of offense to the Lions in the second half. You can’t win if the defense can’t get off the field when it matters most.
End Result – Close, competitive, not good enough. The Browns 0-9 start matches the 1975 team for the second-worst start in franchise history as they fall to 1-24 under Hue Jackson. Cleveland has won just 2 of their last 36, 4 of their last 46 and 15 of their last 72 games.