BEREA — Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer felt the dreaded migraine coming on with just over three minutes left in the first quarter of Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Ravens.
“I threw a nice ball to Rashard (Higgins) down the middle of the field and started noticing some of the visual things,’’ he said.
Four plays later, he forgot to put the man in motion on a screen pass that went off Duke Johnson’s hands and was picked off.
“My mental was a little off at the time, and I typically don’t forget things like that,’’ he said. “I ended up with a tipped ball and getting it picked.’’
When Kizer came over to the sideline, coach Hue Jackson knew something was wrong. He’s watched his perfectionist QB run that play dozens of times and he’s never forgotten to call for the motion.
“Then he ended up looking to a different side,’’ said Jackson. “So that hadn’t been the way he responded. When he came off and I asked him about it, he wasn’t very clear to me about what it was. I knew then that something wasn’t happening. And he told me, ‘Coach, my head is kinda pounding.’ ‘’
Jackson sent Kizer to be tested, and he passed the rigorous concussion exams. Then, he was diagnosed with the migraine and treated with medication.
“There’s not much you can do for them other than trying to put something in your system after you get those signs,’’ he said.
Kizer acknowledged that it’s difficult to differentiate between concussion symptoms and a migraine.
“They’re very similar,’’ he said. “For me, it’s just a feeling that you get. I’ve been getting them since I’ve been young, so I kind of understand that when there’s one getting ready to trigger, it’s time to take your meds and get past those symptoms as fast as you can.”
Kizer (15-of-31 attempts, 182 yards, 3 INTs, 27.3 rating) said his migraines typically come twice a year, and without much warning.
“There’s nothing you can really control,’’ he said. “You just try to keep yourself out of stressful positions and continue to have regular sleep habits and a good diet.”
He said he hasn’t had one in a game since high school, but when they come, they can be debilitating.
“It can get to the point where you have some numbness in your limbs or your face, and you get an aura that continues to grow within your eyesight and doesn’t really allow you to see much and then the pain is pretty tough,’’ he said.
Kizer, who revealed Sunday that his migraines are hereditary, said he felt back to normal Monday, and Jackson said it won’t be a chronic issue.
“Our medical team says we should hopefully be beyond it,’’ he said. “We know it can happen, but hopefully we’re beyond this situation.’’
He said fortunately for Kizer, “it’s been a five- or six-month window when those things have normally happened to him.’’
Jackson also said Kizer didn’t need further tests on Monday.
“I think they conducted every test that they needed to yesterday, along with the concussion test, and felt like he was exactly where he needed to be,’’ he said.
Jackson reiterated Monday that Kizer’s poor outing, which he described as one of his worst performances ever in any sport, had “nothing to do with the migraine at all.’’ He returned midway through the third quarter after spending part of the second quarter and halftime in the locker room getting treatment.
After returning to the game, Kizer threw two of his three picks, both in the fourth quarter. The first one, on a ball thrown well behind Higgins on a crossing route in the end zone, came with the Browns trailing 24-10 and 11:41 remaining -- plenty of time to rally if he had thrown a TD instead of a pick there.
He acknowledged that the timing of the flare-up was unfortunate, especially because he was so well-prepared for the game. Even if he felt 100 percent when he returned, it was still difficult to try to get back in the flow -- especially for a rookie and against that fearsome defense.
“That’s one of my biggest fears being a guy who does get chronic migraines (is that it happened during a game),’’ he said. “It was bound to happen sometime for me, and I’d rather they’re in the season where I can learn from them and create a better plan.’’
Hopefully for Kizer and the Browns, he won’t have another episode until the season is long over.
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