With the help of Eric Metcalf, Todd Philcox made the most of his first NFL start by leading the Cleveland Browns to a 28-16 victory over the Raiders at the Coliseum.
After being bounced around as a backup for three years with Cincinnati and the Browns, Philcox finally got his chance to start when Bernie Kosar suffered an ankle injury last week.
He entered the game as the unknown quarterback when compared to the Raiders' Todd Marinovich, who was also making his first start of the season.
"I didn't look at it like I was being overlooked," said Philcox, whose last start came in the Hall of Fame Bowl for Syracuse in 1988. "I've been in the league for four years, but no one knew much about me."
Philcox did not break any passing records, but he did enough to give the Browns their first victory of the season while outplaying the more-celebrated Todd.
He completed 10 of 20 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Before Sunday, Philcox's career totals were four completions in 10 attempts for 49 yards with two interceptions.
"I just thought Todd Philcox did a helluva job," Cleveland Coach Bill Belichick said. "He made some big throws and really kept his poise. He really didn't surprise us because that's what we expected him to do."
Philcox's biggest strength against the Raiders was his ability to get the ball to Metcalf--who scored four touchdowns--in the open field.
On Cleveland's first possession following a Raider fumble, Philcox took advantage of man-to-man coverage and connected with Metcalf, who made a fingertip catch in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown play.
Later in the game, Philcox and Metcalf hooked up twice more after the Raiders made the game close in the third quarter.
After a Raider field goal cut the Browns' lead to 14-13, Philcox made the Raiders pay on the next scrimmage play. With the Raiders in a tight zone, Philcox completed a quick post pattern to Metcalf, who outran the Raider secondary for a 69-yard touchdown.
Two possessions later, Philcox and Metcalf burned the Raiders again as they teamed up over the middle for a 63-yard pass play that put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter.
"Todd did a great job in getting the ball to me and letting me run in the open," Metcalf said. "We thought that we were going to catch their safeties split open down the middle of the field, and we did.
"We knew that their safeties were aggressive and like to stop the run a lot. Any time they do that, you have a little play action, you can run past them."
Philcox was helped by the Browns' quick start on defense and special teams, which helped set up their first two scores. On its first two possessions of the game, Cleveland started at the Raiders' 14 and nine-yard lines.
"That helped us and me out a great deal in that we got the ball in such great field position early," said Philcox, who led the Browns to only 37 yards in the first half. "I couldn't have scripted a better first quarter for my first start."
The Raiders gave credit to Philcox for not making any mistakes.
"He didn't really hurt them and he made the big plays to Metcalf," said Raider linebacker Winston Moss. "We weren't overlooking them, but we just were not really to play."
In their two losses before Sunday, the Browns were plagued by mistakes.
"Getting Metcalf the ball and letting him make the big plays was the key," Philcox said. "But another big reason was that we did not have any turnovers or sacks.
Philcox was all smiles in the locker room after the game, but that can be expected from a quarterback who was not drafted out of college and signed with the Browns only after Cincinnati left him unprotected following the 1990 season. "I'd be lying if I didn't say that I feel good about this game. I just hope that I can keep it up."
With Kosar out for at least four more games, Philcox is the Browns' quarterback for as long as he can keep recently signed free agent Mike Tomczak on the bench.