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Browns-Buccaneers Final Score: Kizer looks in command in Cleveland’s 13-9 victory

Despite the unimpressive stat line, the Browns’ rookie quarterback delivered, and then the defense and Kevin Hogan got them the win.

Cleveland Browns v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns have found their quarterback.

Even though his stat-line looked ugly, DeShone Kizer made several strong throws to showcase the big-play threat he brings to the table compared to the likes of Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler. Cleveland’s defense also held strong the entire game, and with the assist of a late Kevin Hogan touchdown drive, the team improved to 3-0 in the preseason with a 13-6 win in the dress-rehearsal game for the regular season.

Tampa Bay was set to try a field goal on their opening possession, but on 4th-and-4, Jamie Collins was flagged for encroachment, giving Jameis Winston a fresh set of downs to work with. As the Bucs got closer to the end zone, though, Winston’s pass sailed right into the arms of Jabrill Peppers for the team’s first interception of the preseason.

Then, it was Kizer’s time to show off the chemistry he’s quickly bit with wide receiver Corey Coleman. Despite the rainy conditions, the two connected on this awesome-looking 37-yard completion.

On third down in the red zone, Kizer hit wide receiver Kenny Britt right in the hands on what should have been a first down, but he dropped it. The team had to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Cody Parkey to take a 3-0 lead.

Kizer began his next drive at his own one yard line, but worked out of it. He appeared to hit Coleman on a 3rd-and-5 to get to near midfield, but Coleman was flagged for offensive pass interference. On 3rd-and-15, Kizer had an open receiver beyond the sticks but was a little late with the throw, allowing it to be tipped and then intercepted by cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.

Cleveland’s defense responded again, this time led by a 9-yard sack by DE Emmanuel Ogbah. On their next offensive drive, they were propelled into scoring range by a 37-yard run from running back Duke Johnson on a 3rd-and-2 play.

Unfortunately, with their deepest drive of the game, with a 1st-and-10 at the 12 yard line, Johnson got the handoff again but fumbled, leading to a recovery by the Buccaneers. Both teams struggled to move the ball, including when Kizer and Cleveland’s offense went three-and-out in their attempt at a two-minute drill. The Buccaneers then put together their own two-minute drive to get in range for a 31-yard field goal on the final play of the half, tying the game at 3-3.

Cody Kessler came out to begin the second half and got the team into field goal range, although he didn’t do Zane Gonzalez any favors by taking an 11-yard sack on 3rd down to turn a 44-yard field goal attempt into a 55-yard attempt, which Gonzalez pulled wide left to keep it a 3-3 game. Gonzalez might get some slack because of the distance and it being in the rain.

Mid-way through the third quarter, the Buccaneers got a 42-yard field goal to take their first lead of the game at 6-3. That’s how it stayed the rest of the quarter, with the Browns punting from deep in their own territory to begin the fourth. The rain then really started to pour at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay got a 43-yard field goal with nine minutes to go to build their lead to 9-3.

After that, it was up to Kevin Hogan to try to salvage the game for Cleveland. He had Cleveland moving, but then missed on three straight throws once he got to the 30 yard line. With a little over five minutes to go, Parkey came out for a 47-yard field goal, which he made to cut the Buccaneers’ lead to 9-6.

The Browns’ defense managed to get the ball back for the offense with 3:22 to go, but had to burn all three of their timeouts. After a couple of ugly throws, Hogan then zipped a perfect 30-yard post route to tight end Seth DeValve, and 15 yards were tacked on for a hit to the head/neck area.

Like clockwork, Hogan then found wide receiver Jordan Leslie at the sidelines for 14 yards. He threw high to Njoku in the end zone, but another personal foul was called on the defense for a hit to the head/neck area, making it a 1st-and-goal at the 5 yard line at the two-minute warning. He finished the drive with a touchdown pass to Leslie, and the extra point by Gonzalez gave the Browns a 13-9 lead.

On the ensuing defensive drive, Cleveland sealed it with a sack+strip by defensive end Tyrone Holmes on Ryan Fitzpatrick, with cornerback Najee Murray scooping up the recovery. Another Browns win!

Quick Hitters

  • QB DeShone Kizer: 6-of-18 for 93 yards, 1 INT. Mike Hoag graded Kizer’s first start here.
  • QB Cody Kessler: 6-of-10 for 48 yards. 1 rush, 5 yards.
  • QB Kevin Hogan: 7-of-13 for 82 yards, 1 TD. 3 rushes, 28 yards.
  • RB Isaiah Crowell: 11 carries, 40 yards.
  • RB Duke Johnson: 3 carries, 43 yards, 1 fumble.
  • WR Corey Coleman: 4 catches, 66 yards.
  • WR Jordan Leslie: 4 catches, 34 yards, 1 TD.
  • TE Seth DeValve: 4 catches, 57 yards.
  • Not a good day for WR Kenny Britt, who dropped a pass in the red zone that would’ve moved the chains and also drew a personal foul penalty later on.
  • The tight ends still didn’t get established very well. We’re still throwing too many downfield passes to TE Randall Telfer, which is not his forte.
  • Cleveland had 4 sacks. MLB Joe Schobert again led the team with 6 tackles.
  • There were way too many penalties on punt returns.
  • This is an terrible take from one of the guys at PFF: