Tim Couch's numbers on the stat sheet may appear a little gaudy, 36-50 for 326 yards, with three touchdowns, and an interception. Needing every one of those yards and touchdowns, the Browns won an improbable game that could be a defining mark for this organization.
The Titans unleashed a relentless pass rush, the Browns countered with no running game to speak of. And the emergence of an unheralded player helped the Browns to a come from behind 31-28 victory against the Tennessee Titans. Sitting alone atop the NFL North division with a 2-1 record, the Browns await a inter-division contest with their bitter rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For the record, Tim Couch had a fine statistical ballgame. As we have seen throughout the past couple seasons in Cleveland, the Browns come out of the gate strong, offensively.
Leading the team on a seven-play, 78-yards scoring drive on the opening series of the game, the Browns took a 7-0. Couch looked sharp, hitting rookie wide receiver Andre Davis with a 30-yard reception on the first play of the game. The scoring drive was climaxed with a 14-yard touchdown reception by Davis.
Over nearly the next three quarters, the Browns were wallowing around, self-destructing from a vast array of penalties and turnovers.
Tennessee came into the game set to pressure Couch and a Browns offensive line that has been shuffled around due to injuries to starting center Dave Wohlabaugh and right tackle Ryan Tucker.
Tucker's replacement at right tackle, Roger Chanoine had his hands full with Tennessee defensive end Kevin Carter. Carter throughout the game blew around Chanoine, collapsing the packet, forcing Couch to run from a less than protective pocket.
Couch and the Browns offense, as they have shown during their first two games of the season, taking what defense was giving while looking for the opportunity to make the big play.
While the offense struggled to make the big play against a physical tennessee defense, it was Dennis Northcutt who went from hero, to goat, back to hero, all in less that 30-minutes of football.
Northcutt returned a Tennessee punt 74-yards in the third quarter to bring the Browns back to within striking distance, 21-14. He did not where the hero label long, as midway through the third quarter Northcutt fumbled a fair catch on a punt at the Tennessee nine-yard line.
Three-plays later, Tennessee was up 28-14 and appeared to be comfortably on their way to a victory.
Down 28-14 with five-minutes to play in the game, Couch rose to the occasion, driving the Browns 80-yards in 11-plays against the Titans prevent defense. Again, Couch as accurate as he has ever been picked apart the Tennessee defense, completing 7-11 passes for 80-yards. Covering the final 14-yards on a beautiful pass and catch with Davis, pulling the Browns with 28-21, with 2:35 remaining in the game.
Following a successful onside-kick that Dennis Northcutt fielded at the Tennessee 42-yard line, Couch had 2:35 to prove to his teammates and the football community that he is indeed the man to lead the Browns to the promised land.
Under a fierce pass rush, Couch drove the Browns to the Tennessee eight-yard line with 18-seconds remaining in the game. On a third-and-five from the Titans eight, Couch connected with Northcutt from eight-yards out for the game tying score, with 12-seconds remaining in the game.
In the overtime period, with momentum on their side, Couch and the Browns methodically moved the ball down the field. Running back Jamel White carried the ball four-times for 25-yards and Couch completed 3-of-3 pass attempts for 40-yards, including a critical 31-yards pass to Davis down to the to the Tennessee 22-yard line to get Cleveland into field goal range.
Phil Dawson nailed a 33-yard field goal and the Browns improved to 2-1 with the improbable victory.
For this day, Tim Couch has silenced the critics with the come from behind victory. Heading into the game against the Steelers at Heinz Field Sunday, there won't be any talk of a quarterback controversy and there shouldn't be. Couch was masterfrul in the clutch and this game against the Titans could very well be a defining moment for the Browns and the future of Tim Couch.