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The Browns Are Defeatists No More : Comeback: In past seasons, they might have given up when trailing by a wide margin in the fourth quarter.

September 20, 1993|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With 4:58 to play, the Cleveland Browns were all but a defeated team Sunday at the Coliseum.

They trailed the Raiders by 13 points and knew they were one turnover away from losing for the first time this season.

In years past, the Browns would have folded and started to look ahead to their next opponent. But not this year's team.

Behind castoff quarterback Vinny Testaverde and frustrated running back Eric Metcalf, Cleveland rallied to score two touchdowns and hand the Raiders a heartbreaking 19-16 defeat.

"Hell, yeah, I'm surprised that we came back like that," defensive tackle Jerry Ball said. "We were just sitting there for most of the game, and the longer we hung around, the more we believed we could do it."

For three quarters, Testaverde was on the Browns' sideline wearing a baseball cap while Cleveland's offense floundered under starting quarterback Bernie Kosar.

Testaverde watched the Browns blow drive after drive until he was summoned by Coach Bill Belichick to warm up after Kosar's third interception ended a drive to begin the fourth quarter.

"I had no idea I was going in," said Testaverde, who signed with Cleveland as a free agent during the off-season after being left unprotected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "But that's why I'm with Cleveland, to come in off the bench and try to get the team a win."

Which is exactly what he did, as he completed seven of 12 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown on the Browns' final two drives.

"I can't express my feelings for him," said Cleveland wide receiver Mark Carrier, who caught three key passes on the final two drives. "I played with him for six years at Tampa Bay, and never went through anything like this before. Usually, it was the other team who came from behind to beat us."

While Testaverde was happy to answer the call in the fourth quarter, Metcalf was simply glad to finally have somewhere to run after being bottled up by the Raiders for three quarters.

Metcalf, who scored four touchdowns against the Raiders last season, couldn't run two steps without being harassed by a Raider for most of the game until the final two drives.

"They held me to minus-18 yards rushing in the first half," Metcalf said. "I just wanted some room."

On the first scoring drive, Metcalf, who finished with 136 yards in total offense, broke loose on a 22-yard pass play on third down and 13. Then, three plays later, he had his longest run of the game, 10 yards, to set up Testaverde's 12-yard touchdown pass to Lawyer Tillman. That cut the Raiders' lead to 16-10 with 2:26 remaining.

Metcalf took center stage again 38 seconds later, returning a punt 37 yards.

"That return by Eric was a real big play for us," Belichick said. "It gave us the lift weneeded."

With time running out, the Browns drove to the Raiders' one-yard line befooe Metcalf put the Raiders out of their misery with a sweep around left end to win the game.

In the Browns' locker room after the game, there were many heroes other than Metcalf and Testaverde, who Belichick said will remain a backup behind Kosar.

Among them were the members of the Browns' defense, which limited the Raiders to one first down in the second half.

"We played like a championship team in the second half," linebacker Pepper Johnson said. "We knew the pressure was on us, so we just went out there and fought."

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