CLEVELAND -- Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer may not have been the first signal-caller on the field for the Cleveland Browns in their preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints at FirstEnergy Stadium, but he certainly made the most of his first NFL opportunity.
Kizer played the entire second half and completed 11 of his 18 passes for 184 yards and a 45-yard touchdown in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter on the way to leading the Browns to a 20-14 victory over the Saints.
“Oh yeah, the excitement was there,” Kizer said.
“To step out there and feel this game atmosphere and to compete against another team with my team and the camaraderie I have been able to create with my teammates in this last three months through our training camp and OTAs, to finally go out there and play against someone else was an awesome experience.”
On Kizer’s first drive of the game, the Browns were credited as travelling 16 yards in nine plays because of penalties, but individually, the first-year quarterback accounted for 24 yards between his passing and rushing abilities.
Kizer completed three of his first four passes for 11 yards and rushed for another 13 on two carries, including a long run of seven yards.
Then, on the Browns’ next possession, Kizer engineered a five-play, 60-yard drive in less than three minutes, and the offense punctuated the possession with a one-yard touchdown carry from running back Terrence Magee.
After a kickoff out of bounds gave the Browns a first and 10 from their own 40-yard line, Kizer tested the Saints deep and completed a 52-yard pass to wide receiver Richard Mullaney that moved the ball from the Cleveland 47-yard line to the New Orleans one.
“The Saints were straight forward with what they were going to do,” Kizer said. “They are going to play you man, they are going to blitz you, and if they are going to do that, you have to be able to take shots on a team like that.
“We dialed them up at the right time and got ourselves into some great protection, and the offensive line protected great on those two big throws. It is up to me to maybe throw a tighter spiral so that Mullaney can get in the end zone rather than coming up a half-yard short.”
On the next drive, Kizer threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to second-year wide receiver Jordan Payton and gave the Cleveland Browns a 20-14 lead over the New Orleans Saints with 1:52 to play in the fourth quarter of the preseason opener.
Facing a fourth and two, on New Orleans’ side of the 50-yard line, Kizer dropped back to pass, looked off a defender, waited for Payton to get separation from the cornerback, and then, led his receiver into the end zone with the throw.
“Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the start of my college career,” Kizer said. “That was a game-winning touchdown to Will Fuller (against Virginia) down the same left side right around the same distance where you just let it go and you know you just put it in the right spot.”
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