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Jags fall on final heave

©Associated Press
December 9, 2002

JACKSONVILLE -- The old Kardiac Kids of 1980 were downright boring compared with these new Browns.

Proving once again that none of their games is over until the clock reads :00 -- and sometimes, not even then -- the Browns beat the Jaguars 21-20 when Quincy Morgan caught a desperation heave for a touchdown with no time left Sunday.

"I thought I had seen everything I could in football," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "I guess I hadn't."

Davis has coached 29 games with the Browns. This was the 16th decided in the final minute.

Officials needed 90 seconds to review and uphold Morgan's 50-yard catch, then Phil Dawson kicked the extra point.

Davis sprinted off the field with his son in his arms. Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin fell in disbelief.

"Comments are beyond me right now," Coughlin said.

The Browns (7-6) looked out of the playoff chase after a loss to Carolina Dec. 1. But their victory, combined with Pittsburgh's loss to Houston, pulled them within a half-game of the Steelers in the AFC North.

Morgan fought off tight coverage from Fernando Bryant on the final play. As they fell, Morgan cradled Tim Couch's pass into his body with his right hand.

Side judge Bill Spyksma signaled touchdown. The ball looked as if it might have touched the ground as Morgan hit the turf -- Coughlin insists he saw it hit the ground -- but a review showed no indisputable evidence to overturn the play.

"This is what makes this game so amazing," Morgan said. "Any play can occur on any given Sunday."

The Jaguars (5-8) lost their third straight and are guaranteed a non-winning record for the third straight year. Five losses have been by three points or fewer.

Leading 17-14 with 2:30 left, the Jaguars looked as if they had sealed the game when Akin Ayodele intercepted Couch and returned it to the Browns 24.

The Jaguars moved inside the Cleveland 10, but the Browns had all three of their timeouts left and stopped the Jaguars on three plays to force a decision on fourth down.

Coughlin chose to kick the field goal and take the six-point lead instead of making the Browns drive about 70 yards for a tying field-goal attempt with 50 seconds left. The decision backfired when kicker Danny Boyd, in his first NFL game, squibbed the kickoff off a Cleveland player and the Browns started on their 47.

After a sack and an 8-yard gain, Couch threw the ball high to Morgan, who has a 3-inch height advantage on Bryant, the only defender covering him.

Bryant said the ball hit the ground, but "the bottom line is, it was my play. It doesn't matter what was called. I was there."

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