New Cardiac Kids Nearly Do It Again

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - Tim Couch was already groggy after being flattened by the Baltimore Ravens when Cleveland's quarterback got blindsided -- by Browns fans.

Couch, who spent most of the fourth quarter sitting on the bench in a daze with a concussion, lashed out at fans for booing him following the Sunday night's 26-21 loss to the Ravens.

Couch choked back tears during an expletive-laced tirade at his locker and said he was disgusted with fans who cheered while he was laying on the field hurt.

"I've been here going on four years now and laid it on the line for this team and city," Couch said. "For them to turn on me and boo me is my home stadium is a joke. I've worked my butt off here and it's hard to take, man."

While Couch tried to clear out the cobwebs on the Browns' sideline, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was across the field watching -- and wincing -- as the Browns rallied.

For the second time in six days, Lewis made a national TV game his own prime-time special for three quarters while the Ravens (2-2) built a big lead and hung on.

But when his teammates needed Lewis most, he couldn't help after straining his left shoulder late in the third quarter.

"I was cheering on the sideline," Lewis said. "I banged it bad, and you know me, I want to play. But coach said we have a long season, and to take a seat."

Before he left, Lewis had an interception, forced a fumble that he recovered and made four tackles.

His departure, though, gave the Browns (2-3) a chance, and they pulled within 26-21 in the final minute following the second of Kelly Holcomb's two fourth-quarter TD passes.

Then, after kicker Phil Dawson recovered his own onside kick, the Browns moved the ball to the Ravens 17 in the final minute before Holcomb's final pass was picked off by safety Ed Reed.

Brandon Stokley caught two TD passes from Chris Redman as the Ravens (2-2), who looked pitiful in their first two games this season, moved into first place in the weak AFC North.

"Whew," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's a huge game."

Matt Stover had four field goals and Jamal Lewis ran for 187 yards for Baltimore, which was coming off an impressive win on Monday night over previously unbeaten Denver.

Couch suffered a slight concussion after being hit by several Ravens early in the fourth. He finished 16-of-26 for 216 yards and threw two interceptions.

"I got hit in the back of the head diving for the ball," Couch said. "And the next thing I know, the fans are cheering when I'm laying on the field hurt. I think it's crap, to be honest with you.

"I do feel the players and coaches believe in me. But it's tough having to fight two battles, playing against the Baltimore Ravens and being booed in your home stadium."

Dennis Northcutt, who caught two TD passes in the fourth, said the Browns still support Couch.

"We have most definitely not lost faith in him," he said. "Tim Couch is not the problem. We are."

On Monday night, Lewis almost beat the Broncos by himself. He earned AFC defensive player of the week honors after getting 20 tackles, an interception and throwing the key block on Chris McAlister's NFL-record 107-yard TD return.

Lewis wasn't quite as dominant against the Browns, but No. 52 was all over the field again, making several big plays that turned the game in Baltimore's favor.

Trailing 13-0, the Browns got the ball to open the second half, but Lewis took it away with a play that showcased his field awareness and speed.

Couch completed a pass to wide receiver Quincy Morgan, who cut across the field for a 22-yard gain when Lewis caught him from behind and punched the ball loose with his right hand.

Later in the quarter, Lewis was scrambling for a loose ball behind the line and seemed to jam his shoulder as he hit the ground.

"Losing Ray hurt at first," said Peter Boulware. "He's our leader. But we hung tough and won."

Notes: Browns fans also booed rookie running back William Green. ... Jamal Lewis' 75-yard run in the third quarter was the longest rushing play in Ravens' history. ... Tackle Ross Verba (concussion) and S Robert Griffith (shoulder sprain) were also hurt for the Browns.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)