Browns Might as Well Start Packing
Even for the victorious Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Stadium was a dreary place to be.
“It was an eerie feeling. It was kind of a gray day. There was a sense there like you were almost sleepwalking,” Packer Coach Mike Holmgren said Sunday after Brett Favre passed for three touchdowns and ran for another to beat the Browns, 31-20.
The Packers (7-4) took control in the first half when Favre threw touchdown passes to Dorsey Levens, Mark Chmura and Anthony Morgan on three consecutive possessions. Although Vinny Testaverde came off the bench and gave Cleveland (4-7) a lift in the second half, it wasn’t enough.
Green Bay’s victory, coupled with Chicago’s loss to Detroit, gave the Packers a one-game lead in the NFC Central.
The loss was the Browns’ third in a row since the news broke that they’re moving to Baltimore next season. Projected as Super Bowl contenders at the beginning of the season, they have all but taken themselves out of the playoff hunt by losing six of their last seven games.
A sign in the stands among a crowd of 55,388--there were 17,547 no-shows--seemed to sum up their fans’ feelings about the season: “Hey, Baltimore, all sales are final. No refunds.”
Favre, who threw five touchdown passes in a victory over Chicago last week, was sharp again, completing 23 of 29 for 210 yards. He put the Packers ahead at halftime, 21-3, then interrupted the Browns’ attempt at a fourth-quarter comeback by scrambling four yards for a touchdown.
Perhaps the biggest ovation of the afternoon greeted Testaverde when he took the field at the start of the second half. Benched a month ago, he replaced ineffective rookie Eric Zeier and threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Michael Jackson.
In between the scoring passes to Jackson, however, Testaverde underthrew a long pass to Andre Rison, and LeRoy Butler intercepted it and returned it 76 yards to set up Favre’s clinching touchdown run. Testaverde also came up short on a fourth-down quarterback sneak at Green Bay’s 10-yard line, giving the ball back to the Packers with three minutes left.