DeShone Kizer may have helped sink the Browns’ opportunity to earn their first win of the 2017 season with a costly overtime interception Sunday, but his intentions were good — and the game tape backs it up.
Kizer walked the media through his thought process on the play that ended his team’s only possession in overtime. In the process, he explained he thought he was dialing up a game-winning touchdown on third-and-2.
“On my way back to the left I was able to see Rashard Higgins spin off of his guy,” he said at the Browns’ postgame press conference. “I had the opportunity to go down and make a game-winning touchdown.”
A look at the tail end of the play backs up his vision. Here’s the receiver Kizer had been targeting, who had had a shot at a touchdown if the rookie quarterback could put the ball on the money. Higgins had gotten behind the Packers’ coverage as his passer struggled through pressure, putting several steps between himself and safety Morgan Burnett:
Getting to him would have meant a picture-perfect pass under pressure that traveled approximately 40-45 yards in the air. Here’s what the Browns got instead:
Kizer couldn’t find enough room to separate himself from linebacker Clay Matthews, and as Kizer set his feet to throw, the former All-Pro swatted his throwing arm. The result was a floating pass that fell to earth with five different Packers waiting to snatch it from the air.
Of course, getting the ball to Higgins was no guarantee of success. The second-year pro has just 20 career receptions with a long of only 35 yards. Even if Kizer was able to step into his throw and get it off clean, there were still several places where this play could go wrong.
While the intention was pure, the execution was not only poor, but also harmful. Kizer’s interception gave Green Bay the ball at the Cleveland 42 yard line needing only a field goal to win the game. Six plays later, Davante Adams ended the Browns’ hopes for an upset win with a 25-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
It was an extremely Browns finish that dropped the team to 0-13 on the season.