<
>

Holcomb tosses TD with 29 seconds left

9/21/2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Though Carmen Policy wore the biggest grin
in the Cleveland Browns' locker room, the win and the
fourth-quarter comeback were even more important to Kelly Holcomb.

Andre Davis caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Holcomb with
29 seconds left as the Browns rallied for two late scores and a
13-12 victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Browns (1-2) had one touchdown in their first 11 quarters
this season before scoring two in the fourth against San
Francisco's defense, which held them to 113 yards in the first
three quarters. It was all leading up to another comeback win for a
franchise that has specialized in them since rejoining the NFL four
seasons ago.

"That's Cleveland Browns football: Just wait until the last
minute and 35 seconds of the game," coach Butch Davis said.

Holcomb beat out Tim Couch in training camp, but two middling
performances in losses had put his job and Cleveland's season in
jeopardy. His first three quarters against San Francisco weren't
much better -- but with two sore ankles and a 12-point deficit, he
led the Browns on two stirring drives for the victory.

"We just hung in there, and when we had to make plays, we made
them," Holcomb said. "It's just satisfying that when we had to do
it, we stepped up."

Both scoring drives ended in TD passes to Davis -- the second
capping a 91-yard drive comprised mostly of short, expertly thrown
passes. Kevin Johnson caught 11 passes for 109 yards.

The turnaround thrilled a miniature Dawg Pound at Candlestick
Park, which at times was loud enough to drown out the disappointed
thousands in San Francisco's sellout crowd.

"I think we saved the season today," said Policy, the
Cleveland president who held the same job for eight years with the
49ers. "When you go 0-3, everybody is focused on where you aren't.
Now, we can focus on moving forward to where we want to be. ... We
were Nineresque at the end."

Both offenses sputtered and stalled on a stifling day, but
Cleveland made an uncanny rally to win the clubs' first meeting
since 1993. Holcomb was 25-of-38 for 222 yards.

Cleveland's offense finally helped out its defense, which kept
Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia out of the end zone despite several
decent drives. New kicker Owen Pochman made four field goals for
the 49ers (1-2), who had the type of timid, inconsistent offensive
game that supposedly wouldn't happen after Steve Mariucci was
fired.

Garcia went 21-of-35 for 198 yards. Owens caught eight passes
for 90 yards -- and in a familiar refrain, he broke his media
boycott long enough to demand a bigger role in San Francisco's
offense.

"I don't know how many times we've been in the red zone and my
number hasn't been called," Owens said. "I feel bad from an
offensive standpoint, because we're letting the defense down.
They're playing their tails off, and we can't help them out."

On their first 75-yard scoring drive, the Browns capitalized on
key penalties leading up to Davis' 2-yard TD catch.

The Browns got the ball back at their 9 a few minutes later, and
Holcomb picked at San Francisco across the middle, moving Cleveland
to the 49ers 11 on Kevin Johnson's 19-yard catch with 44 seconds
left. After two incompletions, Holcomb found Davis among four San
Francisco defenders for a leaping catch.

"They stayed strong when things weren't going their way, and
then they outplayed us in the fourth quarter," said 49ers
cornerback Mike Rumph, who committed two key pass-interference
penalties in the second half. "It seemed like they wanted it more
than we did."

Humiliated by Jamal Lewis' NFL-record 295 yards rushing last
week, the Cleveland defense clamped down on the tailback tandem of
Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow, holding them to 32 yards
combined.

The Browns also prevented Garcia and Owens from hooking up for
any big plays. Though Owens had decent statistics, he was
frustrated into a helmet-throwing fit on the sideline in the third
quarter.

Pochman, signed as a free agent last Tuesday to replace Jeff
Chandler, kicked field goals from 38, 44, 46 and 36 yards.

Game notes
Jimmy Williams, San Francisco's punt returner and nickel
defensive back, left the game in the first half with a concussion.
... Garcia was the 49ers' leading rusher with 40 yards. ... WR
Dennis Northcutt missed the game for Cleveland with a chest injury.