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Saints sent reeling with star RB out

©Associated Press
November 25, 2002

NEW ORLEANS -- The running back scampering down the Superdome field Sunday was not Deuce McAllister.

With the Saints star watching from the sidelines, rookie William Green ran for 114 yards and a touchdown to spark Cleveland to a 24-15 win over New Orleans.

"I really feel this offense is just tapping into what it can do," Browns quarterback Tim Couch said.

It was the fourth win in five games for the Browns, who have climbed back into contention in the AFC North after a poor start. Cleveland trails Pittsburgh by half a game.

The Saints have lost three of four to fall into third in the NFC South. McAllister, the NFC's leading runner with 950 yards, was active but didn't play because of a sprained right ankle.

"You want to make plays, it's hard to sit on the sidelines," McAllister said. "I wanted to help my team."

New Orleans struggled without him, gaining 74 yards rushing and scoring one touchdown on six trips inside the Cleveland 20. Cleveland forced three red-zone turnovers -- two interceptions and a fumble by Aaron Brooks -- and twice held the Saints to field goals.

"I made three bad decisions," Brooks said.

Brooks completed 23 of 40 for 318 yards but threw three interceptions and no touchdowns. Couch was 12-for-21 for 182 yards and a touchdown and was intercepted twice.

Cleveland went up 7-3 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Green. The 85-yard drive was fueled by a 46-yard pass from Couch to Quincy Morgan and three penalties against the Saints that gave the Browns 14 yards and two first downs.

New Orleans' Michael Lewis muffed a punt, which Andra Davis recovered for Cleveland. Two plays later, receiver Dennis Northcutt took a handoff and ran 36 yards for a touchdown, giving Cleveland a 14-6 lead with 3:50 in the first half.

Late in the half, New Orleans, down 14-9, drove to the 2 before Brooks threw an interception on third down to Anthony Henry.

Couch's 24-yard touchdown to Kevin Johnson with 4:44 left in the third quarter gave the Browns a 21-12 lead in the third quarter.

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