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Atlanta at Cleveland

Browns 20, Falcons 9

SportsLine.com wire reports

CLEVELAND -- For the first time this summer, the Cleveland Browns looked ready for the regular season. Just in time.

"A much better game," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "The good guys won."

Kelly Holcomb passed for 126 yards in two series and William Green had a touchdown run, leading the Browns to a 20-9 win over the Atlanta Falcons, who ended the preseason winless and minus Michael Vick.

Holcomb, who beat out Tim Couch for the starting job during training camp, completed a 68-yard pass on his first throw as the Browns (1-3) tuned up for their Sept. 7 opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

Couch replaced Holcomb in the second quarter and threw a 57-yard TD pass to Dennis Northcutt. Couch, who looked horrible last week in his first game since losing his job, finished 7-of-8 for 144 yards.

Atlanta's Doug Johnson, filling in at QB while Vick recovers from a broken leg, passed for 147 yards and Jay Feely kicked a 51-yard field goal for the Falcons (0-4).

"Baltimore went 0-4 in the preseason," Johnson said. "And they won the Super Bowl."

Peerless Price caught a TD pass and had 90 receiving yards for Atlanta, which will open the regular season at Dallas.

Cleveland's first-team defense, shredded during its first three exhibition games, looked much better against a Falcons' offense sorely missing Vick.

The Browns' defense came onto the field together during pregame introductions, an attempt to show there were no hard feelings from last week when players argued on the sideline in Detroit.

Safety Robert Griffith (broken finger) played for the first time in the preseason, and end Courtney Brown looked better as he continues a comeback from knee surgery.

"We finally put things together," tackle Gerard Warren said. "We came out looking more like we need to look."

Johnson completed 11-of-21 passes, including a 33-yard TD pass to Price in the second quarter when coach Dan Reeves left his offensive starters in to get some extra work against the Browns' No. 2 defense.

However, Johnson and Atlanta's first-team offense struggled to get going because of several drive-killing penalties in the first half.

"If everybody works as hard Doug, and does the things he does, I think we will be ready," Reeves said.

Both teams were hoping to address some problem areas and come out of the preseason finale as healthy as possible.

But Cleveland lost left tackle Ross Verba to an unspecified injury to his right arm in the first quarter. X-rays were negative, but Verba did not return and Davis said he will be reevaluated on Friday.

Atlanta strong safety Cory Hall sprained his right knee in the first half. The Falcons said he will get X-rays on Friday in Atlanta as a precaution.

Cleveland ran one of its few trick plays of the preseason on its first offensive snap as Holcomb hooked up with wide receiver Kevin Johnson on a flea-flicker.

Holcomb set up the play with a handoff to Green, who pitched it back to his quarterback. Holcomb then threw a 40-yard pass to Johnson, who caught the pass in stride and ran it to Atlanta's 11-yard line.

"We've got some playmakers," Holcomb said. "All you have to do it get them the ball."

Green ran it to the 4, but the Browns had to settle for Phil Dawson's 28-yard field goal.

Holcomb then directed a 15-play drive that ended with Green bowling over from 2 yards on fourth-and-goal.


  • Browns starting LB Kevin Bentley sat out with an injured left ankle. Bentley said he hurt it last week at Detroit, but the team did not disclose it this week.
  • Falcons nose tackle Ellis Johnson had a sack and wreaked havoc inside during the first half.
  • Browns rookie LB Chaun Thompson was laid out on a crackback block by Falcons TE Alge Crumpler. "The hardest hit, ever," Thompson said.
  • Browns WR Andre' Davis played for the first time in the preseason after spraining his knee during the first week of training camp.
  • Foge Fazio, fired after last season as the Browns defensive coordinator, scouted the game for the Washington Redskins.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Scoring Summary
FGPhil Dawson 28 Yd, 11:39. Drive: 5 plays, 68 yards in 1:16.
TDWilliam Green, 2 Yd run (Phil Dawson kick is good), 14:58. Drive: 15 plays, 75 yards in 9:03.
TDPeerless Price, 33 Yd pass from Doug Johnson (Jay Feely kick Failed), 1:54. Drive: 6 plays, 96 yards in 2:59.
TDDennis Northcutt, 57 Yd pass from Tim Couch (Phil Dawson kick is good), 1:12. Drive: 4 plays, 80 yards in 0:42.
FGJay Feely 51 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 2 plays, 18 yards in 0:11.
FGJay Taylor 46 Yd, 7:07. Drive: 8 plays, 17 yards in 4:15.
D. Johnson11/2114710
K. Kittner7/127400
T. Duckett433022
J. Griffith732015
J. Chaney93009
W. Dunn529014
K. Kittner1909
D. Johnson1505
P. Price490133
B. Kozlowski240028
Q. McCord21809
A. Crumpler21609
B. Finneran115015
J. Griffith21508
J. Farris111011
T. Duckett26010
L. Hall1606
L. Dunbar1404
T. Couch7/814410
K. Holcomb4/612600
J. Booty6/136300
J. Jackson102808
W. Green102015
B. Blanchard111808
K. Holcomb1707
Q. Morgan1202
K. Johnson168068
D. Northcutt262157
Q. Morgan134034
A. Davis132032
A. King131031
S. Heiden119019
D. Sanders31808
K. McLeod1303
J. White2206
Complete Player Stats