CINCINNATI (AP) - DeShone Kizer pushed his way into the end zone for a touchdown that made it a game late in the fourth quarter. One thought went through the rookie quarterback’s head.
“Why not today?” Kizer said.
Nope. Not today. Or any day, so far. And the Browns are starting to run out of chances.
The lowly Browns remained winless with a 30-16 loss to the Bengals on Sunday. They’re the second team since the 1970 merger to go 0-11 in back-to-back seasons, along with the 1976-77 Buccaneers, who were in their first two seasons as an expansion team.
Last season, Cleveland waited until the 15th game to get its only win. Heading into another December without a victory, the Browns are taking it right to the end. After the game, reporters sitting in an interview room outside the locker room could hear yelling.
“This is 11 times in this locker room we get a pep talk,” Kizer said, referring to the loud comments. “It’s 11 times when our leaders step up and make some sort of comment. It’s about time for us as a team to reward those leaders by winning a game.”
Coach Hue Jackson said the yelling postgame wasn’t a sign of friction.
“That was a guy on this team who is a leader, and he was telling this team to keep fighting,” Jackson said.
So often in each of the last two seasons, the Browns haven’t been able to get out of their own way with a game on the line. The same thing happened again Sunday against the Bengals (5-6), who had by far their best offensive showing since the last time they played Cleveland.
Kizer threw for a career-high 268 yards. Isaiah Crowell rushed for a season-high 95 yards. All the good was undone by so much else.
Zane Gonzalez missed a 43-yard field goal attempt. When punter Britton Colquitt got hit on a return and went to get checked for a concussion, Gonzalez made one punt that went only 16 yards and set up a Bengals field goal. Corey Coleman dropped a pass in the end zone, forcing Cleveland to settle for a field goal.
On Cincinnati’s clinching touchdown drive, safety Jabrill Peppers lowered his head and delivered a high hit on receiver Josh Malone, drawing a personal foul that helped the Bengals along. The Browns objected to the call, to no avail.
“The officials said that our player’s helmet hit their player in the head,” Jackson said. “I didn’t see that. I thought our player’s shoulder hit him in the chest.
“That was a huge call at that juncture in the game, and the officials have to get that one right. I thought Jabrill did the right thing during that play.”
All of it added up to another loss in which the Browns did many good things, only to have them wiped out by mistakes in the big moments.
“We’ve been in that situation a couple times this year,” Kizer said. “I think that there’s a good chance that the game we will win - multiple games that we will win throughout the rest of the season - are going to be in the fourth quarter.”
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