Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Bernie Kosar wasted no time making his first mistake in the National Football League.
Kosar, playing about an hour's drive from his hometown of Boardman, Ohio, fumbled away his first NFL snap late in the first half Sunday, but then settled down to complete his first seven passes in leading the Browns to a 24-20 victory Sunday over the New England Patriots.
The 21-year-old from the University of Miami, acquired by Cleveland in the summer supplemental draft, was Gary Danielson's understudy until Danielson left with a strained right shoulder late in the first half.
Danielson, who completed 11 of 19 passes for 164 yards before he was hurt, remains the team's first-string quarterback, if he's healthy, Coach Marty Schottenheimer said.
"I just dropped it," Kosar said of the fumbled snap. "Quite honestly, I was looking ahead. I was taking something for granted and thinking about reading the defense.
"But dropping that first one brought me back to earth. I started taking things a step at a time."
Kosar's debut was overshadowed statistically by the play of running back Kevin Mack, who scored the game-winning touchdown on a 10-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Mack rushed for 115 yards in 20 carries and caught 5 passes for 85 yards to help Cleveland improve to 3-2 and take over first place in the AFC Central Division.
Kosar finished with 9 completions in 15 attempts for 104 yards.
Second-year receiver Brian Brennan also turned in a strong showing in his first game of the year. Brennan, who had been out with a shoulder injury, threw a touchdown pass on a trick play and also caught seven passes for 104 yards.
Despite a rejuvenated performance by Tony Eason, New England fell to 2-3. Eason, who struggled in the first four games and faced being benched, completed 20 of 31 passes for 304 yards. His favorite target was Stanley Morgan, who had six catches for 140 yards and 1 touchdown.
Kosar's fumbled snap set up a New England field goal late in the half, but he then completed his first seven passes in the second half, four of them on a 42-yard drive capped by Matt Bahr's 44-yard field goal for a 17-13 Cleveland lead.
New England responded with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Eason to Morgan for a 20-17 lead midway through the third quarter, but Kosar hit Brennan with a 33-yard pass to set up Mack's game-winning run with 12 minutes left.
The Browns' defense stopped the Patriots on four plays after New England had a first-and-goal at the Cleveland five.