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Browns lose grudge match

The Associated Press

Stoney Case ran for two touchdowns in his first start at quarterback with Baltimore, and the Ravens delighted owner Art Modell by beating the Browns 17-10 Sunday.

Monday, September 27, 1999

Stoney Case ran for two touchdowns in his first start at quarterback with Baltimore, and the Ravens delighted owner Art Modell by beating the Browns 17-10 Sunday.

The Browns (0-3) hoped to provide the city of Cleveland a measure of revenge against Modell, who moved the franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore after the 1995 season.

The Ravens prevailed, but the Browns are already looking forward to the rematch at home on Nov. 7.

”Wait ’til the game in Cleveland. Our fans are hyped up,” said Browns offensive tackle Orlando Brown, who played for the original Browns before spending three seasons in Baltimore. ”They love their football. They’re pumped up, they’re ready to go. We just got to keep up our end of the bargain.”

The Browns are winless, yet they’ve showed improvement in each game. After losing 43-0 to Pittsburgh and falling to Tennessee 26-9, they had a chance to beat Baltimore until Chris McAlister intercepted Tim Couch’s pass with 2:18 remaining.

The Ravens (1-2) then ran out the clock, the key play a 28-yard run by Case on 2nd-and-9.

Couch was 13-for-32 for 123 yards, and his second-quarter fumble set up Case’s first score.

”We’ve just got to go out and just get a win, no matter who it’s against,” said Couch, the top pick in the 1999 draft. ”The losses hurt, especially when you can see yourself getting better each week and you’re still losing.”

It was a bitter loss for coach Chris Palmer, interviewed for the Ravens’ job during the offseason before Modell chose Brian Billick, who earned his first win as an NFL coach at the expense of the Browns.

”This is tough. It doesn’t have anything to do with management. It has to do with the players who are in the locker room,” Palmer said. ”I ask them to do something, they go out and do it and it wasn’t enough. That’s what I feel bad about. We have to continue to grow.”

The Ravens are 16-33-1 since moving from Cleveland and have yet to enjoy a winning season, but this was like a playoff game for Modell and his struggling franchise.

”That’s great for Art. This is pretty big for him,” said Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware, who had two sacks. ”It’s good to get a win, especially against Cleveland, and I’m proud of that.”

Baltimore fans took a bit more delight in the victory, in part because Cleveland got an expansion team three years after losing the Browns. Until Modell came to town, Baltimore went 12 years without an NFL franchise after the Colts left for Indianapolis in 1984.

”It’s unfortunate that Cleveland feels the way they do towards Mr. Modell. I’m pretty sure the city of Baltimore feels the opposite because they have a franchise again,” Ravens safety Rod Woodson said. ”He had to make a business decision and he made it.”

One sign at PSINet Stadium read: ”Hey Cleveland – Grow Up and Thank Art.”

Baltimore won despite three interceptions by Case. Errict Rhett ran for 123 yards and the defense forced three turnovers.

Couch fumbled on his own 1 after being sacked by Boulware, and Case scored to help Baltimore take a 10-0 halftime lead.

The Browns turned an interception by Rahim Abdullah into a 49-yard field goal by Phil Dawson early in the third quarter. But Baltimore made it 17-3 when Case scored from the 1 again shortly after completing a 45-yard pass to Qadry Ismail.

The Browns closed to 17-10 with 14:03 left. After Couch connected with Terry Kirby for a 61-yard completion, Couch hit Kevin Johnson in the right side of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown.