While not passing for Favre, Couch sets himself apart

Two TD throws make Browns' QB stand out

Browns 24, Ravens 14

October 22, 2001|By Brian Windhorst | Brian Windhorst,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns aren't the Green Bay Packers, and Tim Couch isn't Brett Favre.

That being said, the result was the same for the Ravens.

After being bested by Favre's heroics last weekend in Green Bay, Ravens coach Brian Billick wasn't counting on such competition yesterday.

Though he was complimentary about Couch's progress in his third year in the league, Billick implied that the Ravens weren't facing the same sort of player they faced last week.

"Tim Couch is an excellent quarterback, and he's going to have every opportunity to show if he can make those same kind of plays that Brett Favre did," Billick said last week. "But [with Favre] you are talking about a unique breed of cat."

That was indeed the case yesterday, as Couch's 149 yards on 11-for-18 passing, were hardly Favre-like. But his two long touchdown throws in the third quarter were the difference in the Browns' 24-14 victory.

"I heard [about the Favre comparison] all week -- that the Packers won the game because of Brett Favre," Couch said after the game. "I may not be Brett Favre yet, but I can go out and make plays in this league."

The two big throws came on back-to-back plays on Cleveland's first two possessions of the second half. After converting a fourth-and-one from the Ravens' 30 by hitting Aaron Shea for a 2-yard gain, Couch found wide receiver Kevin Johnson on a sideline route in the end zone for a 28-yard score.

That put the Browns up 17-6 and really turned the momentum in the home team's favor.

The Ravens' ensuing drive was short-circuited by Jamir Miller's sack of Elvis Grbac, which forced a fumble that set up the Browns at the Ravens' 36.

Couch then struck the crucial blow on the first play, hitting rookie wide-out Quincy Morgan on a nice touch pass in the end zone. Cornerback Duane Starks had a play on the ball, but it was just out of his reach.

"Tim Couch gets better every week he plays," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "He is really starting to develop a great sense of command out on the field."

The Browns' offense was far from overpowering. Cleveland picked up only 10 first downs in the game and gained 219 yards. That's more than 50 yards below the team's average for the season, which was already the worst in the AFC coming in.

"We scored when we got the chance; unlike last year, this team takes advantage of our opportunities," Couch said. "We played a great game against one of the best teams."

So is Couch becoming Brett Favre?

"I don't know if I'd go that far," Billick said. "But he made some big plays today."

A bit of redemption

In three meetings with the Ravens before yesterday, Browns quarterback Tim Couch had thrown for one touchdown and been intercepted five times. A look at Couch's stats against the Ravens:

Date Com-Att. Yds TD INT

9-26-99 13-32 123 1 1

11-7-99 9- 21 57 0 1

10-1-00 20-35 203 0 3

10-21-01 11-18 149 2 0

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