October 20, 2002
Browns Leave Texans Blue
by Ric Sweeney
The Texans’ special teams were anything but Sunday as the Cleveland Browns held off Houston and the emerging David Carr, 34-17, at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Jermaine Lewis dropped a punt late in the first quarter, which led to the game’s first score, a 1-yard William Green run; kicker Kris Brown missed a 40-yard field goal late in the first half, which would have given Houston the halftime lead and rookie Andre’ Davis’ 95-yard kick return briefly recaptured the lead for Cleveland, 17-14, with 8:25 to go in the third quarter.
All told, the special teams cost Houston 17 points, the Browns’ margin of victory.
Fortunately, Carr was up to the task of making up for his teammates’ shoddy performances, as he and the Texans’ suddenly effective offense continuously answered Cleveland for three quarters until ill-timed penalties and sacks eventually did them in. Carr set career highs in completions (22), attempts (36) and yards (267). He threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Corey Bradford in the second quarter, which tied the score at 7, and was not intercepted for the second consecutive week.
After scoring just 14 points in the first half, the teams combined to score 27 in the third quarter, which Phil Dawson started by hitting a 35-yard field goal to give Cleveland the lead, 10-7. On the ensuing drive, Carr hit JaJuan Dawson for 25 yards on 3rd-and-4 before giving way to Jabar Gaffney, who took a pitch from Carr and hit a wide-open Bradford 39 yards down field to put Houston back on top, 14-10. Gaffney’s pass marks the second week in a row a non-quarterback has completed a touchdown pass for the Texans.
But the lead was short-lived as Davis returned Brown’s kick untouched to the end zone to hand the lead back to Cleveland, 17-14. To their credit, back came the Texans. Carr hit Billy Miller for 16 yards on 3rd-and-10 but was unable to convert another third down as Brown nailed a 47-yard field goal. And with 5:48 left in the third quarter, the game was once again tied, 17-17.
The Browns weren’t done. Matt Stevens‘ 19-yard pass interference penalty wiped out an incomplete pass on second down and moved Cleveland to Houston’s 38-yard line. Five plays later, Tim Couch hit Quincy Morgan (who pushed Marcus Coleman with his right arm) on a 25-yard strike to break the tie and give the Browns the lead for good, 24-17.
A roughing the passer penalty on Gary Walker kept a fourth quarter Cleveland drive alive, which eventually ended with a 43-yard field goal. The Texans’ offense sputtered in the quarter, as an old friend, the sack, reared its ugly head. Carr was dropped five times over the final 15 minutes, the last causing a fumble that the Browns recovered and turned into a Jamal White 1-yard touchdown run, which finished the scoring, 34-17.
Billy Miller Miller had 6 catches for 78 yards, including 4 for 64 on third down Sunday. In the past two games, Miller has caught 8 passes for 94 yards and 1 TD, which is the kind of production Texan fans envisioned after Carr and Miller hooked up several times during the preseason. Which begs the question: where the heck was Miller the first four weeks of the season?
Answering the Call After Lewis’ fumble gift-wrapped the Browns’ first score, Houston answered with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing series. When Cleveland took a 10-7 lead, the Texans again answered, Gaffney-to-Bradford, to go back up, 14-10. And finally, after Davis’ kick return, Carr marched the team to a 47-yard field goal to tie the score at 17. Great to see the offense step up.
Third Down’s the Charm The Texans converted 44% (8 of 18) of their third downs Sunday, which isn’t really astounding, until you consider they entered the game converting just 23%, last in the entire NFL. On scoring drives against Cleveland, Houston was 3-for-4, which proves this team is capable of making plays, if they could only cut down on the penalties and sacks. They allowed 4 sacks on third down.
Special Teams Last week, the defense struggled to pick up a potent offense; this week, it was the special teams turn to let Carr and company down. Jermaine Lewis fumbled a punt, leading to 7, Kris Brown missed a field and Andre’ Davis ran a kick back 95 yards for a score, placing 17 points at the feet of the special teams. And hey, what do you know, the Texans lost by 17. Hmmmmm…
Not So Instant Replay Coach Capers, that little red flag in your back pocket? USE IT! At least twice, Cleveland looked as though they had fumbled the football, including one on their first touchdown drive, and the Texans, for whatever reason, never challenged the rulings. Cleveland, on the other hand, did use replay to wipe out a nifty, though illegal, 35-yard pass by Carr, who had crossed the line of scrimmage. The play would have set Houston up at the Browns’ 8-yard line. They eventually punted.
The Usual Suspects Namely, sacks and penalties. The Texans allowed 9 sacks to a team that was averaging — averaging — one a game through their first six. Meanwhile, though flagged only six times, the Texans’ penalties nonetheless seemed to come at the most inopportune times imaginable, including a 19-yard pass interference on Matt Stevens on the Browns’ go-ahead touchdown drive in the third quarter, Carr’s illegal forward pass and Gary Walker and Aaron Glenn‘s dual personal fouls on a huge third down stop that gave Cleveland a first down and, eventually, a 10-point lead. Glenn’s penalty, though declined, was for taunting.
Things looked bleak after Andre’ Davis returned a kickoff 95 yards to put Cleveland ahead, 17-14. But the Texans answered and tied the score on Kris Brown’s 47-yard field goal.
On the Brown’s ensuing drive, Matt Stevens was flagged for pass interference, turning an incomplete pass, and a potential 3rd-and-7, into a 1st-and-10 at the Texans’ 38, a 19-yard swing for the Browns. Five plays later, Couch hit Morgan for the go-ahead score, 24-17.
Offense Wonder if Cleveland wishes David Carr had been around in 1999? Couch, the Browns’ first-ever pick in 1999, didn’t exactly outplay the Texans’ first-ever pick, despite a four-year head start. Shoddy line play ultimately did Carr in, but for the third week in a row, Carr completed more than half his passes and moved the offense effectively. Carr is now 50/88 (57%) for 673 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs his last three games. Next up: learning to throw the ball away when scrambling outside the tackles.
Defense Yes, Marcus Coleman gave up the go-ahead touchdown to Quincy Morgan; but in his defense, he was interfered with on the play and otherwise, turned in a solid effort, breaking up two passes and once again tackling well in the open field, totaling 7 for the game.
Special Teams Egads, what a disaster. None were very special, and none are really very deserving… so, how about holder Chad Stanley (not punter Chad Stanley, but holder Chad Stanley) — he suavely handled what looked like erratic snaps all game from Sean McDermott.
Final 1 2 3 4 F Texans 0 7 10 0 17 Browns 0 7 17 10 34 PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 36 22 267 1/0 Couch 31 21 148 1/0 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Allen 5 61 12.2 0 White 12 65 5.4 1 REC NO YDS AVG TD Miller 6 78 13 0 Morgan 7 81 11.6 1
Jacksonville Jaguars 2002 Record: (3-3)
10.27.02 | 3:15pm
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review