Browns Lose Ugly, 19-12

<BR>As ugly as the Browns loss to the Cowboys was, the aftermath may be worse: the team had three #1 picks hauled off the field due to injuries. David Carducci reports from Texas Stadium on the day's events, which (as shown above) may have ended on the worst note of all...<BR><BR>

IRVING, Tex. - And Cleveland Browns fans thought the quarterback play was ugly when Tim Couch ran the show.

Jeff Garcia authored a new low for a Browns field general Sunday at Texas Stadium, posting the first "zero" quarterback rating in team history in a discouraging 19-12 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

"I'm the kind of quarterback who is not going to take this lightly," said Garcia. "I know I'm better than this."

He had better be, or the Browns (1-1) are in real trouble. In just his second start in a Browns uniform, the 34-year-old veteran completed just 8-of-27 passes for a meager 71 yards. He was also intercepted three times - one his fault; one his receivers fault; and one a combination of the two, putting an exclamation point on just how dreadful the entire Browns offense played.

In all, the Browns managed just 142 total yards on a matching 71 yards passing and 71 yards running.

To add insult to injury, the Browns lost three former No. 1 picks to injuries. Defensive end Courtney Brown was carted off the field with a severely sprained ankle in the first quarter. Just a few plays later, defensive tackle Gerard Warren left after aggravating a strained pectoral muscle.

The most alarming sight, however, was this year's No. 1 pick Kellen Winslow being carted off the field after the game with a foot injury suffered as the Browns tried to pull a rabbit out of their hat in the closing seconds.

"We struggled all game, and in the end one of our key players goes down like that," said Garcia. "That makes this all the more frustrating."

Winslow was hurt in a scramble to recover an onside-free kick with just eight seconds remaining on the game clock. Browns defensive back Anthony Henry managed to come up with the ball after an old-fashioned drop kick by Phil Dawson, giving the Browns one Hail-Mary shot at the end zone and a chance at overtime.

Rookie backup Luke McCown replaced Garcia for the desperation 57-yard heave that came up 10-yards short of the goal line before being batted down harmlessly by Dallas' Keyshawn Johnson.

Amazingly, as bad as the Browns offense played, the defense found a way to provide a sliver of hope for a last-second miracle.

"Our defense gave us the chance to stay in the ballgame, because we didn‘t manufacture enough offense to give ourselves a chance to win." said Browns coach Butch Davis. "It looked like we may have found a chance late in the ball game if we could have just mounted a drive."

The Browns defense and the Cowboys own veteran quarterback, one-time Brown Vinny Testeverde, combined to keep the Browns alive in the second half.

Testeverde threw for an impressive 322 yards on 23-of-35 passing, but made three big mistakes in the second half that turned into interceptions by Henry, Daylon McCutcheon and Robert Griffith.

"I thought a couple of (Testeverde's) decisions were not good," said Cowboys coach Bill Parcells. "He took a couple of chances when the game was on the line. Those were plays that really bothered me. But you get a win with that sometimes."

The Cowboys (1-1) still managed to win because the best Garcia and the Browns offense could do with all those second-half opportunities was score a paltry three points.

Those three points arrived late in the third quarter after the Browns squandered great field position provided by Henry's interception and 51-yard return to the Dallas 22. After driving all the way to the 4, the Browns were forced to settle for a 22-yard Phil Dawson field goal to cut the Cowboys lead to 17-12.

The most painful miscue of the half, however, was Garcia's attempt to hit Winslow on a tight end drag earlier in the third with the Cowboys ahead 10-9. An accurate throw would have converted a 3rd-and-5, giving the Browns a first down near the Dallas 20.

"Unfortunately, that throw didn't go anywhere that I wanted it to," sad Garcia.

Rolling to his right, Garcia tried to hit Winslow by lofting a pass over Cowboys linebacker Dat Nguyen. When he didn't get the pass high enough, Nguyen made an easy leaping interception to spoil the Browns best chance to take a lead.

"A week ago, when we won the ball game, we got the ball inside the 25 yard line and we scored touchdowns," said Davis. "This time, we had to settle for field goals, and that's always going to haunt you. You have to be able to at some point punch it in and score touchdowns. We felt like we left opportunities out on the field."

Phil Dawson accounted for all of the Browns scoring, booting field goals of 45 and 23 and 49 yards in the second quarter - the last coming with no time remaining on the first-half clock, cutting the Cowboys lead to 10-9 at the break.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, made just enough plays on offense to get ahead and stay there. They scored on their opening drive on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Testeverde to backup tight end Jeff Robinson, then added a 30-yard Billy Cundiff field goal in the second quarter and a 3-yard Eddie George touchdown run in the third.

A holding penalty by Browns tackle Joaquin Gonzalez in the end zone gave the Cowboys a safety that capped the scoring with eight seconds left, but it also set the stage for the onside-free kick that gave Cleveland its Hail-Mary prayer.


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