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AP Story: Packers Top Browns, 38-31, In Cleveland


Kelly Holcomb and Tim Couch certainly didn't make things any easier for their coach.

Cleveland's two quarterbacks, neck-and-neck in their fight to be the starter, both played well in their final auditions for Butch Davis before the Green Bay Packers beat the Browns 38-31 in an exhibition Friday night.

Holcomb started and threw two TD passes in the first quarter before being replaced by Couch, who completed his first four passes - the last a 20-yard TD to Kevin Johnson - to give the Browns (0-2) a lead in the second quarter.

Green Bay's Brett Favre went 9-of-14 for 102 yards and threw one TD pass in his three series with the Packers' first-team offense, which was at full strength for the first time this preseason.

Ahman Green rushed for 55 yards and scored on a 1-yard run for the Packers (2-1), who rallied behind TD runs from Herbert Goodman and Nick Luchey in the third quarter.

Akili Smith's 13-yard TD shovel pass to Goodman in the fourth put the Packers up 38-28.

Holcomb, a career backup, appeared to land the knockout blow in the Browns' too-close-to-call QB competition, by throwing TD passes on Cleveland's first two possessions.

Holcomb finished 7-of-10 for 166 yards, making him 14-of-21 for 237 yards in two preseason games.

On the Browns' second play, Holcomb made two nice fakes before hooking up with running back William Green on an 82-yard TD screen pass to tie it 7-7.

That was mostly Green, but the next time he came out, Holcomb quickly moved the Browns down the field.

He lofted a 39-yard pass down the left sideline to Quincy Morgan and capped a 74-yard drive with a 14-yard scoring strike to Steve Heiden, giving Cleveland a 14-7 lead.

Favre responded with a 79-yard drive as Ahman Green barreled in.

Then it was Couch's turn to impress Davis, who said he'll announce his decision on his No. 1 QB by Monday.

Couch got a lukewarm greeting by Browns fans, who booed him relentlessly last year and appear to favor Holcomb, who passed for 429 yards in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh last season.

But Couch was up to Holcomb's challenge and directed a 55-yard drive that ended with him zipping his TD pass over the middle to Johnson, his favorite target the past four seasons.

Couch, who started the exhibition opener at Tennessee, finished 4-of-7 for 53 yards. He's 8-of-15 for 70 yards in the preseason.

Green Bay has no quarterback issues, and Favre looked sharp on the Packers' opening possession going 4-for-5 - one was dropped - and throwing a 22-yard TD pass to Donald Driver.

Notes: Packers LT Chad Clifton played in his first game since being injured when he was blindsided by Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp last season. ... Browns DE Courtney Brown didn't make his 2003 debut after asking if he could have another week of practice before testing his surgically repaired left knee. Team president Carmen Policy dismissed reports the Browns were upset with the former No. 1 overall pick's decision. "Disappointed," Policy said. "Not upset." ... Packers CB Mike McKenzie (neck stinger) and LB Na'il Diggs (bruised shoulder) were injured in the first half and didn't return. RB Najeh Davenport (strained calf) got hurt in the third. ... QB Josh Booty (hand) and LB Chaun Thompson (knee) were the Browns' most notable injuries.

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