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3 Big Takeaways: Costly turnover mars Browns’ comeback bid

CARSON, California --

  1. DeShone Kizer was doing what he’s always been taught when he surveyed the field late in Sunday’s game.

Trailing 19-10, the Browns needed a play as they faced third-and-goal from the 15 midway through the fourth quarter. Kizer rolled out to his left after evading some initial pressure. He looked into the end zone as the internal clock in his head ticked and ticked and ticked.

Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa wrecked the play and Cleveland’s comeback bid when he sacked Kizer from behind and stripped the ball.

“I didn’t have an eye on Bosa. I took a tackle and dropped the ball,” Kizer said. “When you get into a position when you are down by a couple of points, you try to make things happen. You are going to try and hold the ball a little longer to put guys in a position to make better plays.”

Browns coach Hue Jackson’s advice to his quarterback: Live to play another down.

While it wouldn’t have been the most desirable of results, the Browns could have settled for a field goal and put the game in the hands of their defense if Kizer simply threw the ball away.

“He has been in several situations and he can tell you that he shouldn’t take a sack there, he should have at least ran and got down so we could have made a field goal, played defensive and then got the ball again,” Jackson said. “It’s unfortunate that he was in that spot and had to make that play. Again, we have to grow from it and go from there.”

Kizer was at his best Sunday on the plays directly preceding the turnover. He got the Browns out of the shadow of their own goal post when he completed a 33-yard pass to tight end David Njoku and followed with a key third-down scramble, a 25-yarder to Seth DeValve and a bruising, 17-yard run that put Cleveland on the 6-yard line.

Kizer finished 15-of-32 for 215 yards with a touchdown and a late interception.

“The drive to get that first victory is probably the main energy source for us,” Kizer said. “Once again, we all know who we are. We know that we can compete with the best of them, man-for-man. We have the talent we needed to win. It is just about executing at a high level the whole game.”

The Browns play the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13.

  1. The Browns dealt with a handful of injuries Sunday, and one could affect the final four games of the season.

Rookie safety Jabrill Peppers exited in the second half with a knee injury and did not return. Undrafted rookie Kai Nacua filled his spot for the final 14 snaps.

Peppers, who missed two games earlier in the year with a toe injury, will undergo an MRI today, Jackson said.

Defensive lineman Danny Shelton dealt with injured ribs throughout the game. Myles Garrett jogged off gingerly during the first half with pain in his ankle but was able to return.

“I got pulled down on one of the early plays and it stung me a little bit, but no excuses,” Garrett said. “I just have to play better.”

  1. Rookie tight end David Njoku had his best game of the year, catching four passes for 74 yards and the Browns’ lone touchdown.

The 28-yard score was Njoku’s team-leading fourth of the season, first since Week 5. No Browns rookie tight end has ever caught four touchdowns in a single season.

Njoku has 28 catches for 332 yards on the year. Evan Engram of the New York Giants is the only rookie tight end with more yards than Njoku.

“I am just trying to hit the guy that is open,” Kizer said. “I am taking what the defense is giving me. The talent that we have and the playmakers that we have, there are multiple ways to multiple guys the ball. It just happened to be that David was in prime position to make some big plays for us. I wouldn’t be surprised next week if there is another guy making big plays for us.”

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