CLEVELAND (ESPN.com news services) -- Sudden turmoil and rumors twisting around the
Cleveland Browns led to something factual: their first division
Earlier this season, Northcutt twice brought back punts for TDs
only to have them nullified by penalties. But after his
third-quarter jaunt, when he reversed field and picked up some
blocks, Northcutt checked to be certain there were no penalty flags
and waved his arms like an official.
"I got one," Northcutt said. "No flags. Finally. My goal was
to get a few, but at least I got one."
Cleveland safety Brian Russell's second interception of Kyle Boller with 58 seconds left gave the Browns (6-10), who were
embarrassed 41-0 by Pittsburgh a week ago, end the season with
their first win in the AFC North.
They also finished with two more victories under first-year
coach Romeo Crennel than they had in 2004, and they closed with a
come-from-behind victory behind rookie quarterback Charlie Frye.
He survived a first-half pounding and finished 22-of-38 for 199
yards with a 6-yard TD pass to Antonio Bryant.
Cleveland's Reuben Droughns got just 40 yards, but broke Hall of
Famer Jim Brown's club record for most rushing attempts in a
season, ending with 309. Bryant had nine catches for a career-high
123 yards, giving him 1,009 this season.
"I've been here six years and this is one of our biggest
wins," tight end Aaron Shea said. "We fought back."
The Browns' home finale took place two days after a report the
club was planning to fire general manager Phil Savage, who has been
with Cleveland less than one year. Team president John Collins
denied the move was even considered and said the young front office
has worked out any differences.
Savage, who scouted a bowl game Saturday, refused to address his
situation before the game. Afterward, he had little to say.
"I'm still general manager of the Browns," said Savage, who
was asked if he felt better about his status. "We won and I'm
excited about that."
Several of the Browns said they were caught off-guard by reports
Savage's job was in jeopardy. Not Northcutt.
"Nothing shocks me," said Northcutt, drafted by Cleveland in
2000. "I've seen four coaches, four offensive coordinators, tons
of quarterbacks and a couple of GMs, too."
The Ravens (6-10) have lost 11 straight on the road and finished
with their worst record since Brian Billick took over as coach in
1999. Earlier in the week, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti ended
speculation over Billick's future, saying his coach would be back
Deion Sanders, however, won't return. Baltimore's fleet-footed
"Prime Time" cornerback is expected to retire in the near future at the age of 38, ending his
career as one of the game's most gifted and flamboyant
personalities, team sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
According to the sources, Sanders, 38, is serious about wanting to continue his career in football as a head coach, if not in the NFL then perhaps one day at his alma mater, Florida State.
Sanders would not comment on his future after the game.
"No retirement questions," Sanders said. "We'll handle that
The Ravens haven't won outside Maryland since Nov. 14 last
season when they beat the New York Jets in overtime.
"Today's loss epitomized our season," said cornerback Samari
Rolle. "We're not supposed to lose to them, and we wanted to send
Deion out right. It was a dream come true to play with him. He has
been great for the game."
The Browns trailed by 10 when Frye's TD pass to Bryant got
Cleveland within 16-13 in the third quarter.
That's when Northcutt came through.
Fielding Dave Zastudil's kick near midfield, Northcutt started
left, spun right out of a tackle and picked up a wall of blockers
down the right sideline. Wide receiver Frisman Jackson dived to
knock off the final tackler.
"I was running out of gas and Frisman gave me the final
block," Northcutt said. "I knew he'd be there."
Northcutt didn't know Jackson would appear again in the end zone
seconds later. After bowing to the crowd, Northcutt was raising up
when Jackson jumped over his head, clearing his teammate like a kid
playing leap frog.
"It wasn't anything we planned," Jackson said. "I yelled to
warn him, 'I'm going to jump.' Whether he bowed or not, I was going
to jump on him. It was a great run."
Ravens K Matt Stover booted three field goals, giving him
1,593 points and moving him into eighth place on the NFL's career
scoring list. ... Droughns (1,232 yards) and Bryant (1,009) are the
first tandem of Browns to go over 1,000 in rushing and receiving in
the same season since Mike Pruitt and Ozzie Newsome in 1981. ...
Browns K Phil Dawson had two field goals and tied his career high
with 100 points.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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