Panthers Claw Browns


Eric Metcalf remembers when the Dawg Pound could intimidate an opposing player with a well-timed insult or well-aimed biscuit to the helmet.

Now, Browns fans mostly pray for the game to end.

Steve Beuerlein and the Carolina Panthers became the latest NFL team to find out how nice a visit to Cleveland can be these days.

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Game Summary

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  • Beuerlein passed for 199 yards and two touchdowns and William Floyd had two short TD runs Sunday, leading the Panthers to a 31-17 rout of the Browns, who were again embarrassed in front of their home fans.

    "It really wasn't the same," said Metcalf, a former star in Cleveland who now plays for the Panthers. "Not as loud. Of course, our play kept them quiet."

    The Panthers (4-6) never let the home fans get riled up, dominating the Browns (2-9) from the start to drop Cleveland to 0-5 at home in '99. The Browns have been outscored 152-50 in their new, $280 million home.

    Carolina never got a chance to play in the old Cleveland Stadium, which with its rowdy Dawg Pound fans, sloppy field and claustrophobic locker rooms, was one of the toughest places to play in the league.

    The new Cleveland Browns Stadium, boasting luxury boxes, spacious clubhouses and a great view from every seat, is much more inviting. Even the fans aren't as intimidating.

    During pregame introductions, many of Carolina's players barked to mock the Dawg Pound.

    One fan's attempt at rattling Panthers linebacker Kevin Greene even backfired.

    "You're a sissy, Greene," the fan yelled.

    "Shut up!" Greene shot back.

    "I missed coming in here because the fans can get you fired up," said Greene, who came here three times with the Steelers. "Ain't nothing like getting spit on. I'm just as loved here as ever."

    Beuerlein went 21-of-27 with no interceptions, and Tshimanga Biakabutuka shook off an ankle sprain to rush for 93 yards. Muhsin Muhammad had seven catches for 72.

    "Any win is sweet," said Beuerlein, replaced early in the fourth quarter. "You don't get many easy ones in the NFL. Usually, there is a lot of stress down to the last minute, so it was nice to be able to sit back and enjoy this one."

    Browns rookie quarterback Tim Couch went 29-of-46 for 259 yards with one TD and two interceptions. However, Couch padded his stats late against Carolina's defensive backups.

    The expansion Browns again failed to build off the momentum of a win. After beating New Orleans in Week 8, they were drilled at home 41-9 by Baltimore. Last week, Cleveland won in Pittsburgh on a last-second field goal, and all that was left for the Browns to do this year was win at home.

    Carolina, though, never let the Browns get close and built a 28-point lead in the fourth before Cleveland got two TDs in the final 5:21.

    "I'm not sure why we don't play well at home," Couch said. "It just doesn't happen for some reason, and we're not giving our fans anything to cheer about."

    Beuerlein's 1-yard TD pass to former Browns tight end Brian Kinchen with 8:13 left in the third quarter put Carolina ahead 24-3 and began a mass exodus by Cleveland fans.

    Kinchen, who played five years for the Browns, said football in Cleveland isn't what it used to be.

    "It was neat to be back, but it has changed a lot," he said. "Cleveland Stadium was the last of the down and dirty places. The NFL all over is getting more corporate."

    Metcalf, a Cleveland fan favorite who once ran back two kicks for TDs against Pittsburgh in the old stadium, tossed one of his autographed Browns jerseys into the Dawg Pound before the game.

    "It was an appreciation for all they meant to me," he said.

    Metcalf saw some familiar faces, but a lot of new ones.

    "It has changed," he said. "The old place was like the slums. Now, it's like the Millionaire's Club."

    Beuerlein completed 12 of 15 passes in the second quarter when the Panthers outgained the Browns 137-11. He hit on 7-of-9 passes in a 60-yard scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Wesley Walls that made it 17-3.

    After the Browns tied it 3-3, a short kickoff and 31-yard return by Metcalf set up the Panthers' next score Floyd's first TD plunge.

    "I wanted to take that back all the way," Metcalf said. "I was dreaming of it."

    Notes

  • Former Browns tight end Ozzie Newsome received his Hal of Fame ring during pregame ceremonies. Newsome, Baltimore's vice president of player personnel, was then flown to Cincinnati for the Ravens 4 p.m. game against the Bengals on one of Cleveland owner Al Lerner's private jets.
  • Couch surpassed Bernie Kosar's team rookie record for passing yards in a season.
  • Beuerlein's TD pass to Kinchen was the 100th of his career.
  • Browns DT John Jurkovic severely strained a hamstring in the third quarter and didn't return.

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