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Brunell, Jaguars take hard hit from Browns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Cleveland Browns are new and
improved.

They demonstrated that Sunday, knocking Mark Brunell out of the
game and getting 249 yards from Tim Couch in a surprising 23-14
victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Couch led the Browns (2-1) to the go-ahead field goal with 5:13
remaining, and Daylon McCutcheon returned an interception 32 yards
for the sealing score, as Cleveland beat the Jaguars for the first
time in seven tries.

It was a complete turnaround from Cleveland's last trip to
Jacksonville, a 48-0 stomping last December that sealed the fate of
then-coach Chris Palmer and led to the hiring of Butch Davis, who
turned over nearly half the roster.

"The last two years, we would have folded in a situation like
that and lost the game," Couch said. "This team kept on fighting
and believing, and good things happened."

The Browns weren't the only team that looked totally
transformed.

Seeking its first 3-0 start since 1998, Jacksonville (2-1)
started the game without Fred Taylor (groin injury) and Tony
Boselli (shoulder).

Can the Browns actually contend for the AFC Central title?
I don't think they can contend for the title because they're not good enough
offensively. But on defense, they're opportunistic, they create turnovers
and they play hard. That will give them a chance to stay in games.
But they don't have enough play-makers on offense to score enough points to
win the division.

ESPN.com NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player
personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


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Brunell joined them on the bench after taking a hit in the head
from Gerard Warren on Jacksonville's first offensive play. The hit
came as Keith McKenzie blew past Boselli's replacement, Aaron Koch,
and Brunell threw an interception while trying to flip the ball
ahead to Taylor's replacement, Stacey Mack.

Some Jaguars thought Warren's hit was a cheap shot -- an
unnecessary freebie on a player who was 10 yards away, with no
chance to make the tackle.

"I was just trying to get a block -- hoping it would help us get
a touchdown," Warren said. "It was a clean hit. Everybody's fair
game when the ball is turned over."

Brunell played a few more series before taking the rest of the
day off. Still, his injury sent the Jaguars into a stupor.

"They took us out of our game," Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith
said.

But the Browns were hardly in the mood to apologize.

They made just two first downs and gained just 53 yards in the
loss here last year. The players who remained said it was a loss
they couldn't easily forget.

Fresher in their minds was NFL Films footage of Jaguars coach
Tom Coughlin in the locker room last Sunday. After a win over
Tennessee, Coughlin stated "we're 2-0 in the division, on our way
to 3-0 in the division," a statement that incensed the Browns as
they prepared this week.

"We didn't stand around and talk about that all week, but we
knew it was there," offensive lineman Ross Verba said.
"Certainly, from a motivation standpoint, something like that
doesn't hurt."

Couch finished 24-for-34, and Jamel White rushed for 64 yards
and a touchdown after taking over for James Jackson, who left in
the second quarter with injured ribs.

With the Browns trailing 14-13, Couch hit Mike Sellers for 18
yards and Quincy Morgan for another 22, part of a 67-yard drive
that set up Phil Dawson's 30-yard field goal with 5:13 remaining.

On the next drive, the Browns forced Jonathan Quinn into four
straight incompletions from the Cleveland 36. Jacksonville got the
ball back, but Quinn threw a floater to the sideline that
McCutcheon picked off and returned untouched for the sealing score.

Cleveland also started 2-1 last season, but went 1-11 the rest
of the way.

After falling behind 13-0, Jacksonville rallied with two quick
touchdowns, the first when Quinn hit Keenan McCardell for an 8-yard
score, capping a 69-yard drive.

Moments later, Aaron Beasley returned a fumble 40 yards for a
14-13 lead.

But those were the only highlights for the Jaguars, who looked
like a bumbling mess most of the game.

"Some of things I saw in the first half, I didn't think I'd
ever see," Coughlin said. "I guess if you hang around long
enough, you'll see it all."

The Jaguars got called for two taunting penalties in the first
half, both before they had 30 yards or a single point.

Instead of downing a punt, Kiwaukee Thomas batted the ball
straight into the hands of Raymond Jackson, who returned it 43
yards to set up a field goal.

Jacksonville let Cleveland convert nine of 16 third downs,
including five during a 19-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ate
up 10:14 and gave the Browns a 13-0 lead.

The Jaguars botched the snap and hold on a 42-yard field-goal
attempt that Mike Hollis missed badly. It would have given the
Jaguars a 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter.

Game notes
Quinn, who led the Berlin Thunder to the NFL Europe
title last spring, went 15-for-30 for 150 yards in his first
significant NFL playing time since 1998. ... Mack rushed for 93
yards on 17 carries. ... It was Cleveland's seventh victory since
returning to the league in 1999. Four have come on the road. ...
Kyle Brady left with a hip pointer.

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