CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – DeShone Kizer played a full 4 quarters and the Browns showed up and played hard before running out of gas in the fourth quarter.
That’s where we are after they fell to 0-8 marking the third-worst start to a season in franchise history with a 33-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham stadium in London.
Kizer, who had been benched in each of the previous 4 games due to poor play and costly mistakes, completed 18 of 34 passes for 179 yards with a 68.1 rating in the loss. It marked the first time that Kizer did not turn the ball over this season.
Minnesota scored the final 18 points of the afternoon following 5 lead changes over the first 3 quarters between the 2 teams.
Here’s a look at the good and bad from Sunday’s game from across the pond.
– Joe Schobert ended the Vikings’ first offensive possession with his first interception of the season – and for his career – thanks to Carl Nassib, who started at defensive tackle for Trevon Coley and tipped Case Keenum’s pass at the line. Nassib also had a sack that helped hold the Vikings to a field goal after an early special teams turnover.
– Running back Isaish Crowell wasted no time turning that turnover into points after Kizer completed an 11-yard pass to tight end David Njoku. Crowell weaved his way right up the middle 26 yards for a touchdown – his first rushing score of the season – for an early 6-0 lead. It was the Browns’ second lead of the season and first since Week 5 when they led the Jets 7-3 in the third quarter. Crowell finished with 11 carries for 64 yards and the score. He also caught 4 of 6 targets for 54 yards.
– The Browns were the first to score in a game for the first time this season with Crowell’s TD run and they ended the first quarter up 6-3, also their first lead at the end of the quarter in 2017 ending a stretch of 29 quarters in which they trailed at the end of them. They also led at halftime 13-12.
– Cleveland’s offense ended the first half strong thanks to a pair of big plays. Kizer hit Ricardo Louis up the far sideline for 38 yards on a back shoulder throw to convert and third-and-13 and after a 3-yard gain by Duke Johnson, he flipped a shovel pass to Crowell while under duress that got turned into a 38-yard gain to set up a first-and-goal at the 7. After a pair of Crowell runs, Kizer kept it on third down to regain the lead with 0:40 on the clock before half 13-9.
– Special teams, again. Kicker Zane Gonzalez missed his first PAT of the season, bouncing it off the left upright, after making his first 11 to start the year. Gonzalez also missed a 35-yard field goal wide-left that would’ve given the Browns a 16-15 lead in the third quarter but it remained a 15-13 deficit. Receiver Bryce Treggs muffed his first punt return of the day which was recovered by Vikings linebacker Emmanuel Lamur at the Cleveland 20. A personal foul penalty on Minnesota’s Eric Wilson for pulling players off the pile moved them back to the 35.
– More points allowed to end the half. After taking a 13-9 lead the Browns promptly allowed the Vikings to march into field goal range in 37 seconds to allow Kyle Forbath to kick a 37-yard field goal to make it a 13-12 game at intermission. The big play came on a Keenum to Laquon Tredwell 21-yard pitch and catch to the Browns’ 16 allowing the kick. Jackson aslo chose not to bleed the clock more during the previous possession giving the Vikings time. The Browns have allowed 27 points – 3 touchdowns and 2 field goals – on an opponents’ final possession of the first half.
– With momentum on their side coming out of the locker room, Crowell fumbled to start the second half after being stripped by Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter, who quickly fell on the ball at the Cleveland 30. The defense forced a quick 3-and-out forcing Forbath to boot a 43-yard field goal for a 15-13 lead.
– Matthew Dayes weaved his way for a 73-yard kickoff return after the Vikings took the lead in the third quarter. That was good, but unfortunately the Browns scored 0 points off of it. The offense couldn’t move the ball beyond a Crowell 11-yard run and then Gonzalez was wide-left on a 35-yard field goal attempt to keep it a 15-13 game.
– Gregg Williams’ defense looked tired in the second half which leads to mental mistakes and penalties. Minnesota led time of possession 37:52-22:08. Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun was flagged for pass interference in the endzone which set up the go-ahead TD for the Vikings on a 1-yard run by Jerick McKinnon in the third quarter. Jamar Taylor protested another PI flag in the fourth quarter which followed Jamie Collins’ pile-drive of Keenum which drew a personal foul and cost them 15 more yards aiding in another Vikings TD to put the game on ice.
– Updated loss totals: 0-8 is the third-worst start in franchise history (0-9 in 1975 and 0-14 in 2016), 1-23 under Sahi Brown and Hue Jackson’s stewardship, 2-33 since a dramatic 33-30 overtime win at Baltimore on Oct. 11, 2015 and 19-62 since the Haslams assumed control of the franchise on Oct. 25, 2012. The Browns are also the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to start consecutive seasons 0-8 and they’re the first since the 1993-94 Bengals.