TWICKENHAM, England —** DeShone Kizer took a step forward in Sunday's loss to the Vikings but it gave the rookie quarterback little to smile about on an a trans-Atlantic flight back to Cleveland.
Kizer, who made his seventh start this season, helped give the Browns a chance to win a game where they seemingly ran out of gas late. In doing so, Kizer didn't turn the ball over for the first time this year and played his first complete game in almost a month, having been benched three times (including twice at halftime) because of interceptions in that span.
All of that, however, didn't offer the second-round pick from Notre Dame much solace in his postgame news conference at Twickenham Stadium.
"You definitely have to find some moments, and you have to do whatever you can to try to develop individually and as a team. But at the end of the day, I'm sure everyone in this locker room will come up here and tell you that we played this game to win," he said.
"If I go out there and throw six picks, get tossed on the ground 10 times and we win the game, it's a much different feeling."
Kizer's stat line — 18-of-34 completions for 179 yards and one rushing touchdown — was relatively normal but coach Hue Jackson saw growth out of the youngster, who has showed promise through the first half of the season.
"I thought today was a better version of DeShone. We thought he made some throws, made some plays with his legs, made some decisions," Jackson said. "I'm sure there's a couple plays he'd like to have back, like any quarterback would, but I thought this was improvement from where we've been to where we're trying to go, so I was very happy about that.
"We're chasing winning. He knows that and I know that. We've got to get there, and we're not there. But I thought from his standpoint, he did some good things."
Kizer was particularly effective on an eight-play, 82-yard drive just before halftime that gave Cleveland its biggest lead of the afternoon. He capped a pair of long throws with a 1-yard touchdown run and celebrated with his teammates on the sideline.
Amid a frustrating 0-8 start that has seen the league's youngest team struggle with self-inflicted wounds and missed opportunities, Kizer's performance could be considered a bright spot for the Browns, who hung around with Minnesota until the fourth quarter.
"You know, a small win is a small win. That was an opportunity for me to go out there and prove to my teammates that I'm going to keep the ball out of harm's way, and that's what I was able to do," he said.
"I'm going to build on that and find some consistency in that quarterback room, let my teammates know what they're going to get out of me. I was able to show them a little bit of that with some fiery moments, but now it's about finding more plays and doing more and continuing to push harder to get our first victory."
With the bye week upcoming, Kizer said he hopes to continue trending in the right direction.
"It's frustrating, but we'll do whatever we can now to take a break from this, get our minds away from it, improve ourselves individually and with our health and with our development," he said, "understanding where we are individually and come back and try to be the best Cleveland Browns we can be."