Cleveland notches rare victory, downs Green Bay

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2001

CLEVELAND -- One game, and Butch Davis already has the Cleveland Browns playing and feeling like winners.

They went 96 yards for one TD, and 92 to get a field goal. Tim Couch had time to throw behind a patchwork offensive line and Cleveland's defense made big plays when it had to.

And, there was another rarity -- the Browns won.

Couch threw a TD pass to Jamel White and rookie running back James Jackson ran for 66 yards Saturday night, leading Cleveland to a 10-3 win over the Green Bay Packers in Davis' first game as Browns coach.

Davis was hired in January to turn around a demoralized franchise, which went just 5-27 in two dreadful seasons under Chris Palmer.

The former Miami coach promised the Browns would be much better, and they showed some major signs of improvement in front of a crowd of 71,218.

''We'll get better,' Davis said. ''Obviously, getting a win is a nice way to start out the year.''

Couch was sharp during the 19-play, 96-yard TD drive, Jackson looked like he could be the club's feature back and Cleveland's defense had two big stops in the fourth quarter.

''The defense picked us up, gave us energy,'' Couch said. ''They told us that we pumped them up, too. That shows the team spirit. Coach has really instilled a family atmosphere here.''

Couch, who struggled throughout the preseason last year and missed most of the regular season with a broken thumb, had a rough first two series but finished 10-of-13 for 82 yards.

His TD pass to Jamel White gave the Browns a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

''I was eager to get out there and see what it felt like again,'' Couch said. ''After I got sacked, all the jitters were out of me. I got hit and then it was time to play football.''

Brett Favre played most of the first half for Green Bay, completing 8 of 11 passes for 80 yards.

Packers running back Dorsey Levens broke his hand on his first carry and will be out 4-to-6 weeks. He stayed in and finished with 29 yards on five rushes.

Levens had surgery on both knees last season and was hoping to pace himself during the preseason.

''Why not play (hurt)?'' Levens said. ''I've played with everything else.''

Green Bay coach Mike Sherman said he's lucky to have some backfield depth.

''Someone else is going to have to step up,'' Sherman said.

Phil Dawson kicked a 23-yard field goal for Cleveland, which plays host to Tampa Bay next week.

Ryan Longwell had a 47-yard field goal for the Packers, who had 11 penalties and blew two late scoring chances with a fumble into the end zone and a sack on fourth down.

''It looked like it was our first preseason game,'' Sherman said. ''I would have hoped we would be more disciplined.''

Longwell bounced back to make his only attempt after missing four times in an intrasquad scrimmage last week.

Cleveland linebacker Michael Smith, who played for Davis with the Hurricanes, recovered a fumble by Green Bay's Rondell Mealey at the goal line midway through the fourth quarter.

Green Bay then blocked a punt at the Cleveland 18 with 3:54 left, but couldn't pick up a first.

Couch underthrew rookie wideout Quincy Morgan on his first play and was forced to hurry passes several times as the Packers' defensive front dominated Cleveland's rag-tag offensive line.

But Couch looked good once he settled in Cleveland's new quick-strike offense and showed nice composure on his scoring pass to White -- Couch's first TD pass since Oct. 15.

''It felt great to go the length of the field,'' Couch said. ''We went all the way. We know we have a long way to go as a team, but that shows we can accomplish it.''

Favre didn't expect to play more than two series, but was in for 20 of 21 possible snaps in the first half before he was replaced by Doug Pederson.

The three-time NFL MVP, who signed a $100 million contract extension in March, was right on target and was as elusive as ever while avoiding the pass rush.

Notes: The Browns were without nearly $24 million in offensive linemen as Ross Verba (back), Tre Johnson (knee), Jim Pyne (ankle) and Everett Lindsay (ankle) sat out with injuries. Verba, who played four seasons with the Packers before signing as a free agent in March, is expected to practice for the first time this week. ... The Packers were celebrating their 82nd birthday Saturday. ... Green Bay starting LB Nate Wayne sprained a right knee ligament on a running play in the first quarter and did not return.

Vikings 28, Saints 21

SAN ANTONIO -- Daunte Culpepper threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss and ran 11 yards for another score as the Minnesota Vikings got back to football after the death of Korey Stringer with a 28-21 victory over New Orleans on Saturday night.

The Vikings have been in turmoil since July 31 when Stringer, the Pro Bowl offensive tackle, collapsed following a practice in Mankato, Minn., and died the following day of heatstroke.

Vikings players wore football-shaped patches on the left side of their jerseys bearing Stringer's No. 77 and joined the 46,752 fans in the Alamodome in a moment of silence before the kickoff.

Culpepper, who rushed four times for 66 yards and was 3-for-8 for 75 yards passing, wasted no time in getting the Vikings thinking about football, leading them to a 21-7 halftime lead before sitting down for the rest of the game.

Colts 28, Seahawks 21

INDIANAPOLIS -- Just 12 days after signing with Indianapolis, Mark Rypien played a little more than a half to lead Indianapolis to a come-from-behind victory over Seattle.

Rypien, the 1992 Super Bowl MVP, completed 12-of-20 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns in his first action in an NFL game since 1997.

Trent Dilfer, another former Super Bowl quarterback who signed with the Seahawks last week, was 6-of-8 for 58 yards and one touchdown, but he was sacked twice and under pressure other times. Matt Hasselbeck, the Seahawks' new starting quarterback, was 11-of-19 for 139 yards.

Drew Haddad's 94-yard punt return gave the Colts their first lead, 25-21, on the final play of the third quarter.

Falcons 20, Jets 10

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Doug Johnson, who started twice in his four appearances last year after making the Falcons as an undrafted free agent -- looked poised and threw for a touchdown to lead Atlanta over New York.

Johnson was 8-for-16 for 98 yards. Michael Vick, the Falcons rookie quarterback, threw for 24 yards and ran for 24 more.

The Falcons (1-1) also were stingy defensively, holding the Jets (0-1) to 63 yards rushing, while picking off two passes.

New York's Chad Pennington was 11-for-20 for 168 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Titans 27, Bears 24

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Steve McNair started despite practicing only once a day the past week, and threw a touchdown pass as Tennessee held off Chicago.

The Titans (1-0) led 27-10 in the fourth quarter when the Bears (1-1) nearly rallied for a second straight week.

Danny Wuerffel, who helped Chicago beat Cincinnati in overtime last week, started the rally with an 11-yard TD toss to rookie David Terrell with 7:36 left. R.W. McQuarters took Craig Hentrich's punt 58 yards for a touchdown with 2:52 remaining.

Wuerffel had one last chance, but had the ball knocked away as he scrambled in the final seconds and Peter Sirmon recovered for the Titans.

Broncos 20, Cowboys 6

IRVING, Texas -- Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson were virtually even in their first preseason battle to become Denver's featured running back, and quarterbacks Brian Griese and Gus Frerotte were sharp as the Broncos beat Dallas.

Griese led Denver (1-0) to field goals on his two series, then Frerotte guided a 13-play, 80-yard drive on his first possession for a 13-0 lead.

Dallas (0-2), which scored on field goals of 48 and 32 yards by Tim Seder, lost its eighth straight preseason game and 16th of 17. The Cowboys' only victory in that stretch came against the Broncos at home in 1999.

Gary, who started, gained 35 yards on 10 carries, while Anderson gained 33 yards on seven carries. They alternated first-half possessions, each playing two series.

Chargers 25, 49ers 24

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego's quarterbacks finally gave Chargers fans something to cheer about.

Dave Dickenson threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie DeRonnie Pitts with 39 seconds left, then hit Patrick Batteaux with the conversion pass to lift the Chargers to a 25-24 victory over San Francisco in an exhibition opener Saturday night.

Dickenson set up the TD pass with a 23-yarder to Batteaux on fourth-and-19.

The Chargers looked radically different from the beginning, when new starter Doug Flutie led the Chargers to touchdowns on their first two possessions, including a 7-yard pass to Curtis Conway.

The 49ers welcomed back running back Garrison Hearst after a two-year injury layoff. He carried five times for nine yards and said he felt fine.

Raiders 10, Cardinals 7

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jerry Rice caught his first pass with Oakland, and Bobby Hoying threw the only touchdown pass the Raiders needed to beat the Arizona Cardinals.

Oakland's defense dominated the rebuilding Cardinals in the first half, sacking Jake Plummer twice and Dave Brown once. Tory James also had an interception off Brown.

But Arizona got rolling in the second half behind third-stringer Chris Greisen, who drove the Cardinals 90 yards in 10 plays for their score.

Marcel Shipp's 1-yard TD run 42 seconds into the fourth quarter made it 10-7.

That was the last threat the Cardinals could muster. Arizona got the crowd roaring on Oakland's next series, when Deke Cooper picked off a deflected pass and returned it 45 yards for an apparent score.

It was nullified because officials called interference on Michael Stone, who was defending against receiver David Dunn.

Marques Tuiasosopo, who threw the pass, kept a late drive alive by completing an 11-yard pass to David Dunn on third-and-9, and the Cardinals got the ball back on their own 3 with 1:51 left.

Sean Keenan was not up to the task, hitting just two of his four pass attempts and getting the Cardinals out to the 8, where they turned over the ball.

Plummer and Oakland's Rich Gannon played just one series apiece.

Gannon directed a drive that ended with a 26-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski that was the only score of the first quarter.

Rice caught his first pass with the Raiders, the team he chose after the San Francisco 49ers released him in June, during the drive. It went for 6 yards. He was in on just two plays when the Raiders beat Dallas 21-14 on Aug. 4, but played most of the first quarter this time.

Oakland made it 10-0 with 10:53 left in the second quarter when Hoying, who was 9-of-14 for 106 yards, marched the Raiders 53 yards in five plays.

He finished it with a pass aimed for Jerry Porter, which was deflected into the hands of Roland Williams for an 8-yard score.

The Cardinals got back in it with their best drive of the game. Greisen completed a 51-yard pass to Nathan Poole to the 6-yard line to set up two carries by Shipp for the score.

Notes: The teams play a regular season game -- only the fifth between the franchises -- in Oakland on Dec. 2. Oakland is 3-1 vs. Arizona all-time and 4-2 in exhibition games. ... Raiders LG Steve Wisniewski, who missed a week of drills while considering retirement, was in uniform but did not start for the second straight game. ... Greisen, a third-year player, is 7-for-16 for 69 yards in his career. ... Arizona OLB Sekou Sanyika had an X-ray for a calf bruise in the fourth quarter. No results were available.

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