CLEVELAND -- National Football League games cannot be won in the first or second quarters, but they sure can be lost in the early going.
Despite a furious late-game comeback effort, turnovers, three-and-outs, chunk plays and multiple penalties doomed the Cleveland Browns in their inter-division matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday.
The Browns (0-3) committed three turnovers, had four three-and-outs and were flagged 10 times for 113 yards, all of which combined with the explosive plays from quarterback Jacoby Brissett and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, and the Colts (1-2) rode that momentum to a 31-28 victory in front of their home fans.
“You know, you can look at the score at the end of the game, and it can tell a completely different story than the actual game,” Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer said. “We can come out, and yes, we have a great fourth-quarter comeback and it’s enough to have an opportunity at the end of the game to try and win the game.
“In order for us to win games, we’ve got to win in the first quarter, we’ve got to win in the second quarter, and we’ve got to sustainably play well on the offensive side of the ball from my perspective, keep our defense out of inopportune moments, inopportune positions and do our best to execute our job each and every play.”
Plagued by dropped passes from his wide receivers and tight ends, Kizer completed only 22 of his 47 attempts for 242 yards and two touchdowns, but committed three turnovers, throwing two interceptions to Colts defensive back Rashaan Melvin and a third that spoiled the comeback attempt late in the fourth quarter.
“That’s the name of the game,” Kizer said. “There’s a lot of opportunities for me to put the ball in better places and allow our receivers to have better opportunities to catch the ball based upon defensive leverage, based upon my straight-up accuracy. In order for us to move forward as an offense, I’ve got to make sure that the ball’s in the right spot at the right time.”
According to Kizer, the Browns suffered their third straight loss to open the 2017 season because of a “lack of execution all the way around.” Moving forward, Kizer knows the turnover issues must be cleaned up if the Browns are to break their losing streak and get back to the winning ways of the preseason.
“We can move the ball on anyone,” Kizer said. “I think that every team we’ve played so far, we’ve been driving the ball up and down the field. Once again, the name of the game is turnovers. When you’re driving the ball and you’re turning the ball over, if you look at the game based upon momentum, we eliminate our momentum when we turn the ball over.
“We put our defense out there in positions to go out there with short fields and stop teams. If we can limit our defense from those opportunities and maximize on our own, I’m sure that our win-loss ratio would be a little different.”
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