DeShone Kizer provides hope but not a win for Browns in opener

CLEVELAND — DeShone Kizer didn’t give the Cleveland Browns a win on Sunday, but he did give them some hope.

Kizer fought through seven sacks and rookie ups and downs to keep the Browns in a game that the Steelers easily could have run away with.

Kizer guided the Browns to a fourth-quarter touchdown, ending the drive with his first career TD pass on fourth down to Corey Coleman. That and the ensuing two-point conversion turned an 11-point deficit into three with 3:50 left in the game. He didn't get the chance to complete the comeback, though, as the Steelers -- thanks to Antonio Brown -- ran out the clock.

Kizer had good moments in the Browns' 21-18 loss -- their 18th opening loss in 19 seasons -- but there were not enough to compete against Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

Kizer guided a 68-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter, and at one point was 6-for-7. Then he jump-started a 73-yard TD drive in the fourth quarter with a 29-yard completion to Ricardo Louis down the hashmark.

Kizer finished 20-for-30 with an 85.7 rating, but he also took several hits -- including seven sacks and on two running plays. The most difficult was when Ryan Shazier hit him after he slid, a hit that might have sent another quarterback to the locker room.

None of this was unexpected. A rookie starting against the Steelers is a tall order. And there were plenty of moments when Kizer looked comfortable and in control. But there were other moments when it didn’t come together.

In many ways, the opener showed the Browns to be exactly what it appeared they would be.

Kizer played like a rookie with promise but much to learn.

The defense could not handle Brown.
 The special teams gave up a touchdown less than three minutes into the game via a blocked punt. The receivers were OK but made no big plays, and saw Kenny Britt drop a perfect throw on what could have been a big gain.

The offense had the ball 10 times and produced points on three possessions.

The defense fought, but Roethlisberger and Brown were too much.

And Kizer had a generally positive day that left room for improvement. Nothing happened that would suggest Kizer should not have started or that he's overmatched at this level.

But enough happened to show that there is room for him to grow.