Ironically, Detmer ended up helping the Browns get

By David Carducci Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Ironically, Detmer ended up helping the Browns get their first win of the 2001 season while wearing a different uniform.

The Browns tied a 40-year-old team record by intercepting Detmer seven time to spoil their old friend's debut as the Detroit Lions starting quarterback in a 24-14 victory.

The win was the first of the Butch Davis era, and fittingly it turned into a coming-out party for the rookie coach's first draft class.

Fourth-round pick Anthony Henry led the defensive effort with three interceptions, third-round pick James Jackson became the first Browns back in six years to run for over 100 yards, and second-round pick Quincy Morgan added his first career touchdown reception.

"You try to draft guys who are football players and playmakers," said Davis. "You also try to identify (those qualities) in guys you've inherited. There are some guys on this football team who were here long before I got here who are football players. Jamir Miller is a huge player for this defense right now. He is playing extremely well, and Percy Ellsworth is playing extremely well. So is Corey Fuller."

Miller, Ellsworth, Fuller and Earl Little joined Henry in intercepting poor throws by Detmer.

After the final interception _ an over-the-shoulder grab by Henry late in the fourth quarter _ Fuller stopped his former teammate as he walked dejectedly back to the Lions' sideline.

"I told him that he was a lot better than that," said Fuller.

While the Browns were excited to get their first win, most of the players admitted they hated to have it come at the expense of an old friend. Detmer, who was traded to the Lions prior to the start of the regular season, was one of the most popular players in the Browns locker room during his two years in Cleveland.

Nobody felt worse for Detmer than Tim Couch, who credits the 10-year veteran with helping to teach him "what it takes to be an NFL quarterback."

"I am thrilled to get our first win of the season, but there is a part of me that feels bad for Ty," said Couch. "He is one of my closest friends, and (it hurt) to see him out there throwing interceptions. I have been there and had bad days, too. I know what he is feeling right now, but that is not a reflection on the player Ty Detmer is."

Couch, himself, was admittedly far from his best. In completing 12-of-20 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns, he was at least good enough to win the battle of teacher vs. student.

Detmer finished 22-of-44 for 212 yards and one touchdown _ a 14-yard pass to Johnnie Morton early in the fourth quarter that closed the scoring. His seven interceptions led to a dreadful 35.1 quarterback rating.

After the game, Detmer had a dazed look on his face as he stood in the unfamiliar environment of Cleveland Browns Stadium's visiting locker room.

"I'm still waiting to wake up from the nightmare," he said. "After a certain point, it snowballed. You just have to start making plays toward the end. On 3rd-and-9, I know better than to force it, and I just tried to do too much today. Bottom line, trying to do to much."

The Browns converted Detmer's mistakes into just 10 points. Henry's second interception, which he returned 53 yards to the Lions' 17, led to a 33-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, giving the Browns a 17-0 lead early in the third quarter.

The only touchdown off a turnover came later in the third when Couch hit Morgan on a 34-yard scoring pass, giving the Browns a 24-7 lead with 4:25 left in the quarter. The touchdown came just one play after Miller intercepted a tipped pass by linebacker Wali Rainer.

The third quarter could have been even bigger for the Browns were it not for a series of mistakes by Couch, culminating in a poorly thrown slant that Terry Fair intercepted and returned 26 yards for Detroit's first touchdown midway through the third quarter.

The Browns built a 14-0 halftime lead on a pair of short touchdown passes by Couch. Kevin Johnson pulled in the first score, a 4-yard pass with 8:55 left in the first that ended his 20-game stretch without a touchdown catch.

The second touchdown grab turned in by an unlikely recipient. With 13:21 remaining in the second quarter, Couch rolled to his right on third down and lofted a 2-yard pass to reserve offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara in the back of the end zone.

"It's an offensive lineman's dream to catch a pass, let alone a touchdown pass," said O'Hara, who had lined up as an eligible receiver on the left side of the line. "(Offensive coordinator Bruce) Arians told me that I might be part of the goal line package this week, and to make sure I knew what was going on. Basically, it was for blocking purposes, but there was one pass play that he might have to call. Tim knew I could catch it and he told me to be ready."

While the Browns scored their touchdowns through the air, the team's offense was most effective on the ground. In just his second pro start, Jackson became the first Browns back to run for over 100 yards since Earnest Byner rushed for 121 against the Bengals in 1995.

Jackson rushed for 124 yards on 31 carries.

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