Browns Come Alive in Final Warm-Up

Fans left Cleveland Browns Stadium a little more confident about the upcoming season after watching the Browns top the Atlanta Falcons 20-9. Mike McLain brings us the story of the game.

CLEVELAND - The Browns came alive on both sides of the ball to close the preseason with a 20-9 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Quarterback Kelly Holcomb completed four of six passes for 126 yards, and the first-team defense yielded no points while on the field for three Atlanta possessions.

"I thought we played well," Holcomb said. "There were a lot of things going on. They did a great job of protecting me. We have an offense with our receivers when they get open and we hit them on stride, they can make a lot of plays for us. That's what you saw."

The Browns played their first-team offense for only one quarter, while the first-team defense was on the field for Atlanta's first possession of the second quarter. The Falcons, who ended preseason with a 0-4 record, went with their regulars for the entire first half.

"You can see the dramatic improvement in our offense," coach Butch Davis said. "We mixed it up. Run, pass, play action. We came out and were aggressive. Kelly came out and was aggressive and made some big plays down the field.

"Our team wanted to make a statement tonight. We get a win and we left here with a good taste in our mouths. Deep down inside they know they made progress."

The defense did a solid job of stopping the run. The secondary didn't have the coverage breakdowns that caused problems in the first three preseason games.

"If you want to be smart about it, if you question us you have to say that we're running a new defense. We've been running the same offense for three years," free safety Earl Little said. "My 5-month-old son can tell you that our offense is going to be clicking. This is a new defense we're learning, and it's starting to jell. If it was easy, there would be a lot of guys playing in the NFL."

Running back William Green pitched back to Holcomb after taking a handoff, and Holcomb completed a 68-yard pass to Kevin Johnson on the Browns' first possession. The drive stalled and kicker Phil Dawson booted a 28-yard field goal.

The Browns marched 75 yards on 15 plays to score on a 2-yard run by Green on their next possession. Holcomb completed three of three passes on the drive for 58 yards. He scrambled for 7 yards to the Falcons' 2 on a third-and-6 play.

Atlanta scored when Peerless Price beat rookie cornerback Leigh Bodden on a 33-yard pass play from Doug Johnson. Jay Feely's extra-point kick was partially blocked by Alvin McKinley and bounced off the left upright.

Tim Couch directed a four-play, 80-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 57-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Northcutt, extending the Browns' lead to 17-6. Northcutt broke wide open behind coverage and caught the ball near the Falcons' 20.

Feely kicked a 51-yard field goal on the final play of the half after Johnson completed an 18-yard pass to Price.

There was no scoring in the third quarter. Feely was wide left on a 40-yard attempt in the period.

Jay Taylor kicked a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to finish the scoring.


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