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CLEVELAND 20, CINCINNATI 7

Browns Don't Let This One Get Away

September 16, 2002|From Associated Press

CLEVELAND — No hurled helmets, no haunting ending. The Cleveland Browns let Cincinnati quarterback Gus Frerotte provide the follies this time.

Frerotte heaved a pass with his left hand to avoid a sack, and Kenard Lang returned the interception 71 yards to set up a pivotal touchdown as Cleveland rolled to a 20-7 victory over the Bengals Sunday.

Kelly Holcomb had another solid game as Tim Couch's fill-in, throwing for two touchdowns and 198 yards behind a depleted line as the Browns (1-1) sliced up an overmatched defense.

Linebacker Dwayne Rudd promised fans a great performance to atone for his helmet-throwing blunder a week earlier, which let Kansas City get a 40-39 win. The defense didn't have to be great against the Bengals, who got their first touchdown of the season when the game was out of hand in the closing minutes.

The helmet fiasco was forgotten--for now.

"It only shuts the door if we are able to go out and do what we are capable of, and that's making the playoffs," said Rudd, who had only one tackle. "We won't want to be one win away from the playoffs and have everybody look back to last week as the reason we didn't make it."

Phil Dawson made field goals of 52 yards--the longest of his career--and 45 in front of the largest crowd in Cleveland Browns Stadium's four-year history. The Browns sold 73,358 tickets for the game.

The crowd roared when Cincinnati's T.J. Houshmandzadeh was flagged for taking off his helmet in the closing minutes to fix his chin strap.

The Bengals fell to 0-2, having been outscored, 54-13, in reviving their reputation as the NFL's worst team since 1991.

Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon ran for 108 yards, caught a team-high eight passes and had to leave to get intravenous fluids for dehydration late in the second quarter.

Frerotte got most of his yards in the waning minutes and finished 26 for 47 for 239 yards.

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