CLEVELAND — The Green Bay Packers appeared to be headed for another routine loss Sunday when Coach Forrest Gregg decided to bring veteran Gerry Ellis and rookie Kenneth Davis off the bench to start the second half.
The running and receiving of the two running backs, coupled with the passing of quarterback Randy Wright, inspired the Packers to their first victory of the season, 17-14, over the Cleveland Browns.
Wright hit Phillip Epps on a 47-yard touchdown pass play late in the third quarter to give the Packers a 17-14 lead, their first since a Sept. 22 game against the Chicago Bears.
"We came out with Ken Davis and Gerry Ellis, and I think that threw things out of kilter for Cleveland," said Gregg, who coached the Browns in 1975-77.
The Packers, whose 0-6 start was their worst ever, got minus 2 yards rushing from starting running backs Gary Ellerson and Paul Ott Carruth in the first half.
Davis, however, finished with 64 yards in 10 carries, all in the second half, while Ellis had 65 yards on four receptions. The pair combined for 153 yards in the second half.
The Browns led 14-3 at the half, but Ellis scored from two yards out to pull the Packers within 14-10 on their first possession of the second half. Davis ran for 29 yards in 2 carries, and Ellis caught 2 passes for 35 yards on the drive.
Epps then split the Cleveland defense for the game-winning 47-yard reception with 1:21 to play in the period.
"I had excellent protection, so I had plenty of time," said Wright, who completed 21 of 27 passes for 277 yards. "I just looked them off and gave them a little pump fake and Phil went flying, and that opened up the middle."
Cleveland cornerback Hanford Dixon said the play was perfectly chosen to beat the Browns' zone defense.
"It was a well-executed play and caught us in the right coverage," Dixon said. "They caught us in zone coverage with a play that we'd be vulnerable to in that coverage."
Cleveland's Bernie Kosar completed 28 of 36 for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the Browns were limited to 32 yards rushing.
The loss dropped Cleveland (4-3) one game behind first-place Cincinnati in the AFC Central.