Final Round Ends in a Draw

<I>Vincent Taddei filled in for Dave Carducci Saturday night, as Dave covered the PGA Championship for the Ravenna Record-Courier</I><BR><BR>Vincent Taddei looks at the third, and presumably final, round of the pre-season battle between Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb. The verdict? The decision is no easier on Saturday than it was before the game...

As if taking the opportunity to watch Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre wasn't a good enough of a reason for fans to head out to the stadium on Friday night, the game promised to be the last word on the Browns lengthy quarterback debate.

What transpired should actually make head coach Butch Davis's decision quite simple.

No, neither Tim Couch or Kelly Holcomb did anything detrimental to their chances, but instead played well enough to make either a sound decision to start the season opener on September 7 against the Indianapolis Colts.

"They both played well," Davis said. "Given the opportunities, they were both very efficient, and they executed."

Holcomb got the nod against the Packers, and he capitalized by hitting seven of his first nine passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. The eighth-year veteran got off to a sizzling start by completing a small screen pass to running back William Green who blazed past Packer defenders for an 82-yard score.

Wide Receiver Quincy Morgan benefited by Holcomb's hot hand when he caught a 39-yard pass that eventually set up a 14-yard scoring strike to Steve Heiden.

Holcomb's only glaring mistake came on his final pass attempt, which was picked off by Al Harris, who recovered to step in front of Quincy Morgan's flag route. Morgan was open on the play, a may have made the play had the ball been thrown further up field and over Morgan's right shoulder.

"It is just (Davis's) decision," Holcomb said. "I thought we both played well tonight. As a quarterback, that is what you have to do – you have to manage the team and you have to prepare yourself to be the starter or to be the backup. It's all about winning football games. It's all about the Cleveland Browns winning football games."

With a hard act to follow, Couch trotted onto the field to a mixed fan reception and proceeded to march the Browns on an 11-play, 55-yard scoring drive by completing all four off his passes for 51 yards. The drive ended when Couch found Kevin Johnson settling in the middle of the field off a chair route to catch the touchdown pass just in front of a defensive back, who had decent coverage.

Couch's second series may be food for analysis. Set up at his own 30-yard line with just over a minute in the first half, Couch failed to organize a drive by tossing three incompletions.

Following the game, Davis lent little insight as to how the quarterback competition was shaping up. "Kelly put two touchdowns on the board," Davis said. "And on Tim's one realistic drive, he took the team down and scored a touchdown." Both quarterbacks got stellar play from their running backs. Green finished the evening with two carries for 15 yards and two receptions for 97. He left in the second quarter with strained muscle in his neck. Playing mostly behind Couch, James Jackson added 66 yards on 12 carries.

Davis is expected to make a decision regarding the quarterbacks on either Sunday or Monday. The Browns Head Coach will meet with the press at 6PM on Sunday night.

The OBR Top Stories