DETROIT — Jim Caldwell knows what Hue Jackson is going through with the Cleveland Browns.
Caldwell was coaching Indianapolis when it began the 2011 season with 13 losses and finished 2-14, costing him a job after his third season of leading the Colts.
That may explain why Caldwell put his right arm around Jackson as they walked off the field following the Detroit Lions’ 38-24 victory on Sunday that kept Cleveland winless.
“I’ve been on that side before,” Caldwell said. “I know what it looks like.”
At times, it looked as if it might be the Browns day to break through and get a desperately needed victory at Ford Field.
They led 10-0 midway through the first quarter and were ahead 24-17 midway through the third quarter after DeShone Kizer led two consecutive touchdown drives.
Cleveland, though, could not stop Matthew Stafford after doing a good job of it early in the game.
Stafford threw a 29-yard, tiebreaking touchdown to Eric Ebron early in the fourth quarter and sealed the win with a third touchdown pass, a screen pass to Golden Tate that he turned into a 40-yard score with 4:36 left.
“I don’t care who we’re playing, in this league, a victory is hard to get,” Caldwell said. “You can downplay it and all that kind of stuff, but I’m just telling you that there are no easy wins.”
The Lions (5-4) earned consecutive victories for the first time since winning the first two games this season.
Cleveland (0-9) is marching toward NFL infamy a year after losing the first 14 games in Jackson’s debut season and finishing 1-15.
“I’m taking the fall on everything,” Jackson said.
Here are some other observations from Ford Field:
ONE FOR THE TEAM
Jackson refused to blame rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer for costing the team points as the final seconds went off the clock in the first half with the ball at the Detroit 2.
Cleveland, which didn’t have any timeouts left, couldn’t get a play off after Kizer ran up the middle with 15 seconds left and the Lions took their time getting off the turf and back on defense.
“That’s on me,” Jackson said. “We don’t need to go into it.”
Browns tight end Seth DeValve was more forthcoming about Kizer running a play that wasn’t called in the huddle.
“DeShone took it upon himself to sneak it, which is not a bad thing to do,” DeValve said.
Despite the mistake at the end of the first half, Kizer made a lot of plays with his arm and feet. He was 21 of 37 for 232 yards with a TD and an interception on his final drive after converting three fourth downs with passes. Kizer ran seven times for 57 yards, including a go-ahead, 1-yard run with 6:01 left in the third and a 20-yard sprint.
Kizer also showed how tough he was, taking a shot to the ribs in the third quarter that kept him out only part of the game.
“I never had a rib injury like that,” he said.
Stafford’s performance marked his 30th career winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. Among players who made their NFL debut since 1970, Stafford has reached 30 such drives in the fewest number of career games (118).
MAKING UP FOR IT
The Lions seemed to bench cornerback Nevin Lawson after he gave up a 38-yard pass to Sammie Coates on Cleveland’s first snap and whiffed on an attempt to tackle Kenny Britt on a 19-yard touchdown on the next drive.
Lawson got another chance and made the most of it, forcing DeValve to fumble, recovering the ball and returning it 44 yards for a tiebreaking touchdown late in the second quarter.
“We’ve got to have short-term memories as corners,” Lawson said.
Ebron was spread out wide and covered by Derrick Kindred when the tight end ran past the safety and caught Stafford’s touchdown pass.
“When he’s playing well, he can create mismatches,” Caldwell said.
The Lions will hope to stay undefeated in the NFC North on Sunday in Chicago (3-6) before coming home on Thanksgiving to face the division-leading Minnesota Vikings (7-2).
Cleveland’s next chance to win and avoid joining Detroit as the only franchises with 0-16 seasons comes against Jacksonville (6-3) on Sunday at home.