McCown Thrills, But Work Remains

McCown Thrills, But Work Remains

Despite a thrilling last-second victory led by QB Luke McCown, it is clear that the Browns still have more work to do before they are ready to face the Baltimore Ravens on September 12th. David Carducci provides his insight on the game and the road ahead as the Browns go to 2-1 in pre-season.

KANSAS CITY - Jeff Garcia said he needed more work in the Cleveland Browns third exhibition game to finally start finding a rhythm for the regular season.

Despite a last-second 21-19 victory over Kansas City Chiefs Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium, it's clear Garcia needs even more work than he thought.

The veteran free agent who was supposed to jump start the Browns sluggish passing game looked out of sync with his receivers in an under-whelming and surprisingly short quarter and a half of action, completing just 4-of-8 passes for 37 yards.

Through three preseason games, Garcia has thrown for a total of just 105 yards while completing 12-of-20 passes. That's not exactly the kind of aerial attack the Browns had in mind for the post-Tim Couch era.

The Browns running game, however, continues to be a pleasant surprise.

William Green kept the heat on Lee Suggs in their battle for the Browns starting running back job, running for 53 yards on just four carries. Not to be outdone, Suggs added 31 yards on four runs, including the first half's only touchdown.

"These two guys are great kids and they are busting their butts to be the best players they can be," said Browns coach Butch Davis. "It's a dynamic duo for us and it's one of the real strong parts of our football team. I'm really proud of them and the way they are handling the (running back competition)."

Against the same Chiefs defense that held St. Louis Rams Pro Bowl running back Marshall Faulk to just 16 yards on six first-half carries Monday night, Green and Suggs broke off a series long first-half runs.

Green ended the opening quarter with a 10-yard burst through the middle of the line, then gashed the Chiefs on a 42-yard sprint down the left sideline on the first play of the second quarter.

Suggs followed with a 28-yard touchdown run on the very next play, taking a draw up the middle then bouncing outside to the sideline for his third score in the last two weeks.

Kansas City's Lawrence Tynes booted first-quarter field goals of 28 and 48 yards to give the Chiefs an early lead before Suggs' run put the Browns ahead 7-6 with 13:31 remaining in the second quarter .

The most promising feature of the long runs by Green and Suggs was that both were behind the left side of the Browns line. In the preseason's first two weeks, the majority of the Browns rushing success came while running right behind right tackle Ryan Tucker and new right guard Kelvin Garmon.

The two long runs also took place on Enoch DeMar's first series at left guard. DeMar and Paul Zukauskas each took turns with the first-team offense as the Browns continued their search for a full-time starter, but it was DeMar who set up the Browns lone touchdown, delivering the key block that sprung Suggs to the outside.

With DeMar at left guard on the Browns second two possessions, Suggs and Green combined to run for 62 yards on four carries. With Zukauskas at left guard for the Browns' opening two possessions, Suggs totaled just 3 yards on three carries.

Those numbers could help DeMar climb back into the lead in the battle for the starting job at left guard.

Suggs and Green both continued to make their case to start at running back. Suggs increased his preseason rushing average to 7.9-yards per carry (15-for-118), while Green improved to an equally impressive 8.3 per-carry average (12-100) after three exhibition games.

Garcia, meanwhile, failed to lead the first-team offense to scores after being handed more than favorable field position on the Browns first two drives.

He threw an in to Kellen Winslow on 3rd-and-6 when the rookie tight end ran an out, helping to spoil a possession that started deep in Kansas City territory at the 29-yard line. The failed conversion forced the Browns to settle for a 42-yard Phil Dawson field-goal attempt that was blocked by John Browning.

A near interception, an underthrown slant to Andre Davis, and a badly overthrown deep ball to Winslow helped keep the Browns from scoring on their second possession - a drive that started at their own 40 and reached the Chiefs 36.

Garcia, who had hoped to play into the third quarter, gave way to backup Kelly Holcomb midway through the second quarter.

Kansas City won the battle of the backups in the third quarter, regaining the lead for good in the third quarter on a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes by second-string quarterback Todd Collins - the first a 9-yard throw to third-string running back Derrick Blaylock and the second a 4-yard toss to second-string wide receiver Omar Easy.

Luke McCown led the Browns third unit to a spirited comeback in the fourth quarter, however, culminating in a last-second touchdown strike on the last play of the game.

McCown, who entered the game late in the third quarter, was impressive as the Browns rallied to score two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the game. After a rough start, where he missed his first three passes, McCown finished the game with 8 completions on 15 attempts for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

After a 10-play, 45-yard drive closed the gap to 19-14 Chiefs, a Felipe Claybrooks sack of Damon Huard helped the Browns regain possession with 1:40 remaining. After limited success on the first three plays, McCown found Chad Mustard for an eleven-yard completion on fourth-and-eight, giving the Browns third-string offense one more shot at the end zone.

McCown then found C.J. Jones for a 37-yard completion to the Chiefs 34. Following an incomplete pass, and with only four second remaining as the ball was snapped, McCown rolled to his left, and found a double-covered Richard Alston in the end zone. Timing his leap, Alston pulled down the ball as the clock expired, giving the Browns an uplifting victory in pre-season.


Barry McBride contributed to this report.

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