Browns avenge last year's 48-0 loss in Jacksonville
Updated: Monday October 01, 2001 2:22 AM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Cleveland Browns are new and improved.
Couch led the Browns (2-1) to the go-ahead field goal with 5:13 remaining, and Daylon McCutcheon returned an interception 32 yards for the sealing score, as Cleveland beat the Jaguars for the first time in seven tries.
It was a complete turnaround from Cleveland's last trip to Jacksonville, a 48-0 stomping last December that sealed the fate of then-head coach Chris Palmer and led to the hiring of Butch Davis, who turned over nearly half the roster.
"The last two years, we would have folded in a situation like that and lost the game," Couch said. "This team kept on fighting and believing, and good things happened."
The Browns weren't the only team that looked totally transformed.
Seeking its first 3-0 start since 1998, Jacksonville (2-1) started the game without Fred Taylor (groin injury) and Tony Boselli (shoulder).
Brunell joined them on the bench after taking a hit in the head from Gerard Warren on Jacksonville's first offensive play. The hit came as Keith McKenzie blew past Boselli's replacement, Aaron Koch, and Brunell threw an interception while trying to flip the ball ahead to Taylor's replacement, Stacey Mack.
Some Jaguars thought Warren's hit was a cheap shot -- an unnecessary freebie on a player who was 10 yards away, with no chance to make the tackle.
"I was just trying to get a block -- hoping it would help us get a touchdown," Warren said. "It was a clean hit. Everybody's fair game when the ball is turned over."
Brunell played a few more series before taking the rest of the day off. Still, his injury sent the Jaguars into a stupor.
"They took us out of our game," Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith said.
But the Browns were hardly in the mood to apologize.
They made just two first downs and gained just 53 yards in the loss here last year. The players who remained said it was a loss they couldn't easily forget.
Fresher in their minds was NFL Films footage of Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin in the locker room last Sunday. After a win against Tennessee, Coughlin stated "we're 2-0 in the division, on our way to 3-0 in the division," a statement that incensed the Browns as they prepared this week.
"We didn't stand around and talk about that all week, but we knew it was there," offensive lineman Ross Verba said. "Certainly, from a motivation standpoint, something like that doesn't hurt."
On the next drive, the Browns forced Jonathan Quinn into four consecutive incompletions from the Cleveland 36. Jacksonville got the ball back, but Quinn threw a floater to the sideline that McCutcheon picked off and returned untouched for the sealing score.
Cleveland also started 2-1 last season, but went 1-11 the rest of the way.
After falling behind 13-0, Jacksonville rallied with two quick touchdowns, the first when Quinn hit Keenan McCardell for an 8-yard score, capping a 69-yard drive.
Moments later, Aaron Beasley returned a fumble 40 yards for a 14-13 lead.
But those were the only highlights for the Jaguars, who looked like a bumbling mess most of the game.
"Some of things I saw in the first half, I didn't think I'd ever see," Coughlin said. "I guess if you hang around long enough, you'll see it all."
The Jaguars got called for two taunting penalties in the first half, both before they had 30 yards or a single point.
Instead of downing a punt, Kiwaukee Thomas batted the ball directly into the hands of Raymond Jackson, who returned it 43 yards to set up a field goal.
Jacksonville let Cleveland convert nine of 16 third downs, including five during a 19-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ate up 10:14 and gave the Browns a 13-0 lead.
The Jaguars botched the snap and hold on a 42-yard field-goal attempt that Mike Hollis missed badly. It would have given the Jaguars a 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter.
Notes: Quinn, who led the Berlin Thunder to the NFL Europe title last spring, went 15-for-30 for 150 yards in his first significant NFL playing time since 1998. ... Mack rushed for 93 yards on 17 carries. ... It was Cleveland's seventh victory since returning to the league in 1999. Four have come on the road. ... Kyle Brady left with a hip pointer.