CLEVELAND (AP) - Browns quarterback Tim Couch says he has no one but himself to blame for his three-interception performance against the Green Bay Packers.
"I didn't play well, didn't take care of the football well enough. I'm not going to point fingers and say it was the weather, bad routes, whatever. It was my fault and I'll get it cleaned up," Couch said.
After throwing just five interceptions in the first eight games of the season, Couch has given up 13 picks in the last six games.
Couch's 18 interceptions are tied for fourth highest in the NFL behind Peyton Manning (21), Trent Green (21) and Jon Kitna (20).
"The interceptions I've had have been maybe me just trying to force the issue a little bit. I've got to realize I don't have to win the game by myself. I've got a lot of players around me. I just have to relax and let the guys around me make the plays for me," he said.
The Browns are 2-4 in their last six games and their point total has continued to shrink since a 27-17 victory at Baltimore on Nov. 18. Cleveland scored 18 in a shutout victory against Cincinnati, and then in successive losses scored 15, 16, 10 and 7.
"I think that's where I kind of got myself in trouble a couple times, when the offense is stalling a little bit," Couch said. "Early on I did a good job of just taking care of the football and not turning the ball over a lot. Lately, I've kind of gotten frustrated with the offense not putting a lot of points on the board, not moving the ball as well as we'd like.
"I've tried to force the issue, try to throw the ball downfield into coverage at times, just trying to make the perfect throw."
After the Green Bay loss, Couch said with defiance that he would continue to be aggressive with the ball. The Browns close the season with games at Tennessee and Pittsburgh.
"What I meant is when it comes time to throw it downfield, I'm going to throw it there with confidence and not be passive or indecisive about it," he said.
In 14 games under coach Butch Davis, Couch has 14 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and a passer rating of 71.2.
His statistics were slightly better in 22 games under Chris Palmer: 22 touchdowns, 22 interceptions and a rating of 74.6. But Couch insists he is a better quarterback now than before.
"I just realize a lot more about the game, as far as picking up blitzes, getting myself blocked and protected, that kind of thing," he said. "I'm seeing coverages better, reading coverages better."
One difference in Couch's third NFL season is that the mounting criticism he hears is rolling off his back more easily.
"It's not unjustified," he said. "I deserve it.
"I've got a ways to go, I realize that. I've got a lot to learn in this league, but I'm the kind of guy that's willing to do that. I'm willing to work hard, willing to learn, willing to accept criticism and willing to deal with it and get better from it."
(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)