After being hit and harassed by Jacksonville’s mouth-smashing defense, DeShone Kizer stepped to the podium.
Downcast and defeated, the rookie quarterback summed up his day and the Browns’ season with just two words.
“It hurts,” he said.
It isn’t getting any better in Cleveland.
Forced into costly mistakes by Jacksonville’s top-ranked, sack-happy defense, the Browns fell to 0-10 on Sunday with a 19-7 loss to the Jaguars, who shivered and slopped their way to a fourth straight victory and sole possession of first place in AFC South.
For the Browns, the beatings won’t subside. They fell to 1-25 under coach Hue Jackson and are now 4-43 since the end of the 2014 season — the worst 47-game stretch in NFL history.
Kizer was intercepted twice and fumbled twice, his final turnover recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith with 1:14 left, ending any chance Cleveland had at pulling out a much-needed win. Kizer has struggled to take care of the ball all season and his latest carelessness seemed to rattle the 21-year-old, who played well last week in a loss at Detroit and has been showing steady improvement.
That stopped against the Jaguars.
“I am trying to do whatever I can to string together some games and continue to prove my development to my teammates and to continue to earn the respect of them,” Kizer said. “This is the first game that I have come off of the field feeling as if I didn’t prove that I have developed yet.”
Kizer finished 16 of 32 for 179 yards and was sacked five times by the Jaguars (7-3), who lead the NFL with 40 sacks and teed off on Cleveland’s offensive line when it mattered most.
The Browns were still within 13-7 and at Jacksonville’s 40-yard line when Kizer was sacked by Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, fumbled and the Jaguars recovered with 1:48 remaining. Jacksonville couldn’t run out the clock and the Browns got the ball back with 1:24 to go. But Kizer was belted again by Ngakoue and Smith, who also had an interception, pounced on it to put the Jaguars up by 12.
Afterward, Jackson said Kizer’s performance won’t cost him his starting job.
“DeShone is going to start at quarterback next week,” he said. “There is no question about that. We just have to continue to get better and continue to work at it. Just have to make those plays when they are there. He knows that. Have to take care of the ball better. Just have to keep working at it.”
Jaguars safety cornerback Tashaun Gipson came close to eating his words after predicting earlier in the week that Jacksonville would win and pitch a shutout.
Gipson, who ripped Cleveland’s front office for not re-signing him, said he never meant any disrespect toward former Cleveland teammates, but there was some jawing between him and several Browns players during warmups.
After the game, Gipson said he wasn’t backing down.
“Some of those guys felt the need to address me and, you know, Mama ain’t raised no punk,” he said.
With their first four-game winning streak since 2007, the Jaguars have jumped Tennessee for the division lead.
Jacksonville hasn’t been in first place this late in the season since 1999, when the Jaguars were 9-1 and leading the AFC Central.
And while he’s pleased with how his team is playing, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone is far from satisfied.
“I talked to them afterward and I think we need to clean some things up to be able to push forward,” he said. “I told the players I don’t want to be a ‘Debbie Downer,’ but we have to clean some things up if we want to move forward into the direction that we want to move in. We’ve got some things to clean up.
Browns wide receiver Corey Coleman had a solid return after missing nine games with a broken hand sustained in Week 2 at Baltimore. He finished with six catches for 80 yards.
“He walked back in there and made some plays,” Jackson said.