<
>

Couch makes early exit in loss at Lambeau

8/16/2003

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Time's up for Butch Davis. So, is it Tim Couch
or Kelly Holcomb?

"I'm glad I'm not the man making that decision," Browns wide
receiver Quincy Morgan said.

Holcomb and Couch certainly didn't make things any easier for
Cleveland's coach. The two quarterbacks, neck-and-neck in their
fight to be the starter, both played well in their final auditions
for Davis before the Green Bay Packers beat the Browns 38-31 in an
exhibition Friday night.

Holcomb started and threw two TD passes in the first quarter
before being replaced by Couch, who completed his first four passes
-- the last a 20-yard TD to Kevin Johnson -- to give the Browns (0-2)
a lead in the second quarter.

Davis said he'll spend Saturday reviewing game film, and after
consulting with his coaching staff, he'll sleep on it and announce
his decision Sunday.

"Both of them threw the ball very well," Davis said. "They
were in total command of what Green Bay was doing."

Holcomb isn't sure who the winner will be.

"I don't know," he said. "Did you ask coach Davis? I'm sure
it's pretty hard."

Green Bay's Brett Favre went 9-of-14 for 102 yards and threw one
TD pass in his three series with the Packers' first-team offense,
which was at full strength for the first time this preseason.

Ahman Green rushed for 55 yards and scored on a 1-yard run for
the Packers (2-1), who rallied behind TD runs from Herbert Goodman
and Nick Luchey in the third quarter.

Akili Smith's 13-yard TD shovel pass to Goodman in the fourth
put the Packers up 38-28.

"I thought we moved the ball real, real well," Favre said.
"There's still room for improvement, but considering how we played
the last two weeks, we got a lot done."

Holcomb, a career backup, appeared to land the knockout blow in
the Browns' too-close-to-call QB competition, by throwing TD passes
on Cleveland's first two possessions.

Holcomb finished 7-of-10 for 166 yards, making him 14-of-21 for
237 yards in two preseason games. He hopes it was enough to give
him the job.

"I did what I can do and after that, I can't do anything else.
I have no regrets about it."

As he has done all preseason, Davis praised both his
quarterbacks and remained noncommittal. But he wasn't so
enthusiastic about his defense.

"I was disgusted," he said. "The tackling was about as poor
as I've seen."

On the Browns' second play, Holcomb made two nice fakes before
hooking up with running back William Green on an 82-yard TD screen
pass to tie it 7-7.

That was mostly Green, but the next time he came out, Holcomb
quickly moved the Browns down the field.

He lofted a 39-yard pass down the left sideline to Morgan and
capped a 74-yard drive with a 14-yard scoring strike to Steve
Heiden, giving Cleveland a 14-7 lead.

Favre responded with a 79-yard drive as Ahman Green barreled in.

Then it was Couch's turn to impress Davis. He got a lukewarm
greeting by Browns fans, who booed him relentlessly last year and
appear to favor Holcomb, who passed for 429 yards in a playoff loss
to Pittsburgh last season.

"I was prepared for the worst," Couch said of the fan
reaction, "and I thought it was a little better than expected."

Couch was up to Holcomb's challenge and directed a 55-yard drive
that ended with him zipping his TD pass over the middle to Johnson,
his favorite target the past four seasons.

Couch, who started the exhibition opener at Tennessee, finished
4-of-7 for 53 yards. He's 8-of-15 for 70 yards in the preseason.

Green Bay has no quarterback issues, and Favre looked sharp on
the Packers' opening possession going 4-for-5 -- one was dropped --
and throwing a 22-yard TD pass to Donald Driver.

Game notes
William Green bruised his neck, but Davis said it wasn't
serious. ... Packers LT Chad Clifton played in his first game since
being injured when he was blindsided by Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp
last season. "It all felt good," Clifton said. "It's been a long
time and I had a lot of excitement tonight." ... Browns DE
Courtney Brown didn't make his 2003 debut after asking if he could
have another week of practice before testing his surgically
repaired left knee. Team president Carmen Policy dismissed reports
the Browns were upset with the former No. 1 overall pick's
decision. "Disappointed," Policy said. "Not upset." ... Packers
CB Mike McKenzie (neck stinger) and LB Na'il Diggs (bruised
shoulder) were injured in the first half and didn't return. RB
Najeh Davenport (strained calf) got hurt in the third. ... QB Josh
Booty (lacerated hand) and LB Chaun Thompson (knee) were the
Browns' most notable injuries.