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Cleveland 14, Baltimore 13

  |   Dec. 22, 2002 at 10:11 PM
BALTIMORE, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Tim Couch engineered a 92-yard drive that he capped with a one-yard touchdown pass to backup tight end Mark Campbell with 29 seconds remaining Sunday as the Cleveland Browns kept their playoff hopes alive with a dramatic 14-13 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

The Browns (8-7) retained their AFC North Division title hopes. They need a win next week at home over Atlanta and also need Pittsburgh to lose its last two games to win the division. Cleveland also is alive in the wild card race.

"We've been in those situations all year long and we've come out on top quite a few times and today was a huge win for us," Couch said. "As long as the score is manageable, you've got a chance to go out and get yourself back in the game. You've got to always believe that the next play is going to be the big play and that's what this team does."

"Obviously, you have to recognize Tim Couch," Browns Coach Butch Davis said. "He was horribly criticized in the first Baltimore game. And to come back today and go 92 yards with no timeouts and score the game-winning touchdown, I think he deserves an awful lot of credit.

In a 26-21 loss to the Ravens at home in October, Couch suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter and the home fans cheered his injury.

The Ravens fell to 7-8.

"It's very, very painful," Ravens Coach Brian Billick said. "All week long we tried to create a playoff atmosphere. I think it was. The fans were phenominal. It was a hell of a game and what these guys have to learn from this is this is what a playoff loss feels like. It's a painful lesson, but we'll try to draw from it."

"It was a great opportunity to prove something to a lot of people and we were so close," Ravens quarterback Jeff Blake said. "It's one thing if we go out and get blown out, but to lose like that it's tough."

No strangers to close games, the Browns took over on their own eight with 2:18 remaining and no timeouts, needing to score a touchdown to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Couch came through with perhaps the biggest drive of his four-year career.

On the game-winning eight-play, 92-yard drive, Couch completed six of seven passes for 78 yards. The highlight was a 28-yard connection with running back Jamel White and roughing penalty on cornerback Chris McAlister on the play that moved the ball to the Baltimore 13.

Couch connected with Kevin Johnson for 12 yards to the one and, after William Green was stopped for no gain, Couch rolled to his right and found Campbell wide open in the end zone.

"It does a lot for my confidence," Couch said of the winning drive. "Especially because a lot was riding on this game. This was to stay in the playoff hunt and we needed this. We were 92 yards away with no timeouts and it just had to be done and we went out there and did it."

Since Butch Davis became Cleveland coach, the Browns have had 18 of 31 games decided in the final minute.

"That's what this team has been about all year," Davis said. "They have wanted to play meaningful games in December and we certainly put ourselves in that position."

Leading, 13-7, the Ravens took over on their 13 with 7:01 remaining and nearly were able to run out the clock. They moved to the Cleveland 40, but on third and seven, Jamal Lewis ran for five yards, bringing on Dave Zastudil to punt.

Zastudil pinned the Browns at the eight, but Couch quickly got his club out of that hole with completions of 11 and nine yards to Andre King and a 17-yard connection to Quincy Morgan.

After an incompletion, Couch found White over the middle. White picked up his blocks and cut down the right sideline before being hit out of bound by McAlister.

Three plays later, Couch completed the comeback with the short pass to Campbell.

"The odds were in our favor and we put them down and made them go the length of the field," Billick said. "And that's the way they've won a lot of games. So it came down to kind of the way we've won a lot of tight games to the way they've won a lot of tight games, and today they won."

Couch finished 22 of 31 for 209 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

Michael Jameson sealed the win for the Browns when he intercepted Jeff Blake's "Hail Mary" pass.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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