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Couch Not Soft on Bengals

September 11, 2000|From Associated Press

CINCINNATI — For Tim Couch and the Cleveland defense, it was the sweetest sort of revenge.

Couch outplayed quarterback Akili Smith in their rematch and the Browns piled up seven sacks, dominating Cincinnati, 24-7, Sunday in the Bengals' first regular-season game at Paul Brown Stadium.

Couch, who was angered by Smith's chest thumping and Dawg Pound baiting last October, passed for 259 yards and two touchdowns in his finest game yet.

As the clock wound down and woofs from Browns fans filled the stadium for the first time, Couch walked to midfield and shook Smith's hand, then jogged off the field without a gesture.

None was needed.

"The best part about it was other than throwing a game-winning touchdown, to just kneel down at the end of the game, toss the ball to the ref and walk away with a little smile on your face," Couch said.

The Browns (1-1) had never gotten to do that. Their two victories as an expansion team last year came in the closing seconds.

This one wasn't in doubt after Couch threaded a five-yard touchdown pass to Marc Edwards for a 24-7 lead with 11:47 left and raised both arms in triumph, the final comeuppance for his counterpart.

"I ain't going to lie: It drove me the whole week long," said Couch, who completed 19 of 31 passes and threw to 10 receivers. "It wasn't personal, it was just a matter of going out and wanting to beat him."

The Bengals (0-1) wanted to win this game as badly. The team that lost more games than any other in the '90s talked all summer about a fresh start in the $453 million stadium named for its founder.

Instead, Paul Brown's first team, the Cleveland Browns, came away with the first win at the stadium.

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