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Browns have hope thanks to rookie QB Kizer

(TSX / STATS) -- BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns lost their opener to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they might have found their quarterback for the present and the future in the process.

Rookie DeShone Kizer showed poise and toughness in the 21-18 defeat on Sunday in FirstEnergy Stadium. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 222 yards, rushed one yard for a touchdown and threw a 3-yard pass in the final minutes for another.

"I've said over, over and over again," Kizer said. "As a quarterback, your job is to put your team in a position to score points and win games. Obviously, there are some drives that we were proud of and that we're headed in the right direction on, but there were also some lulls within the game that we have to try to cut back on. The defense playing as well as they are, it's our job on offense to complement that and turn that into points."

Kizer was sacked seven times. Not all of them were on the offensive line. Some were on the receivers for not getting open and some were on Kizer for holding the ball too long waiting for an opportunity to open. He said he'll throw the ball away first next time.

The touchdown pass to Corey Coleman was thrown with 3:36 remaining. A two-point conversion by Isaiah Crowell cut the lead to 21-18. The Steelers bled the clock dry, otherwise Kizer could have been a real hero to the Browns faithful.

As it was, Kizer demonstrated his arm strength in the touchdown drive with a 29-yard rope to Ricardo Louis on the right hash and showed field awareness on the next play when a short pass to Crowell turned into a 23-yard gain.

"He did some good things on third down," head coach Hue Jackson said. "That's the money down for a quarterback. He just didn't make enough plays on third down. There were some other opportunities there. We just have to continue to grow.

"This is his first game. We weren't going to go 16-0. This game is behind us. Next week, we have to get ready for this game (against the Ravens) and get better."

Kizer is the second rookie to start a season opener at quarterback for the Browns. The other was Brandon Weeden in 2012.

--Joe Thomas, in his 11th season as the Browns' left tackle, has seen enough openers to know the difference between a bad team and one that has potential. He likes what he saw on Sunday despite the 21-18 loss to the Steelers.

"The type of people there are on this team, they play with resolve and composure," Thomas said. "They don't ride the roller coaster. A lot of guys are young, but they're steady. It seemed like a lot of guys who were out there played with a steadiness that you wouldn't expect out of a young or a first- or a second-year guy."

The Browns have lost 18 of 19 season openers since 1999.

--Wide receiver Corey Coleman showed in preseason he can be reliable and he carried that over to the opener with five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. He and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer have been developing chemistry since the week before the third preseason game, when Kizer became the starter.

"I thought DeShone did a great job," Coleman said. "It was his first time playing in a real football game and he handled it like a true professional. It can only get better."

Coleman caught 33 passes and scored three touchdowns last season.

NOTES: RG Kevin Zeitler sustained a thumb injury in the opener Sunday, but he should be fine, head coach Hue Jackson said Monday. ... MLB Joe Schobert, in his first start at middle linebacker, led the Browns with nine tackles. ... TE Seth DeValve, with 10 catches all of 2017, had four catches for 21 yards in the season opener. ... WR Kenny Britt, after a poorly played preseason, dropped a pass on second-and-19 in the fourth quarter that would have resulted in a first down. The Browns were trailing 21-10 at the time. Britt caught one pass for 13 yards. ... FS David Kindred foiled a Steelers touchdown drive with an interception at the Browns 1-yard-line early in the fourth quarter.

Updated September 11, 2017

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