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Published: 10/4/2004

No Couch trip planned for Davis' 'guy'

CLEVELAND - Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis is committed to quarterback Jeff Garcia.

Davis has never wavered from his stance that the reaction to Garcia's good games should be equal to his bad games.

Garcia received the full Tim Couch treatment following road losses against the Cowboys and the Giants. Garcia let himself and his teammates down.

Garcia, however, doesn't take his work home with him. He doesn't dwell on past mistakes and blown opportunities.

He is confident enough to believe he'll win the next game. He's played in three Pro Bowls. What other Cleveland player can say that?

Davis is staking his reputation on Garcia, which explained why Davis looked five years younger after Cleveland's 17-13 win over Washington yesterday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Normally brief with his answers to the media, Davis refused to shut up.

He was excited about Garcia's poise and ability to lead. He was overjoyed with Cleveland's fourth-quarter comeback. And he was relieved at how the 2-2 Browns responded to the challenge of winning a must-win game in only the fourth week of the season.

"I thought Jeff managed the game extremely well. Jeff's poise under pressure was extraordinarily noticeable today," said Davis, who used a lot of big words to describe Garcia's performance.

"That kid wanted to win," Davis said. "When he started making plays, there were guys that were jacked up and pumped up."

According to the "kid," - the 34-year old, battle-tested Garcia - yesterday's second half was all in the backyard to him.

He was totally at ease and in control.

Remember the San Francisco 49ers' miraculous fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Giants in the NFC wild-card game a couple of years ago? Garcia was the quarterback of record that day.

"There was definitely frustration, but I don't think there was a sense of hanging your head," Garcia said of Cleveland's inability to move the football in the first half. "It was just another game where we had to keep grinding it out and willing our way to win."

What yesterday's matchup against Washington ultimately came down to was Davis' belief that Garcia - his hand-picked QB - would win the game.

Garcia was 14-of-21 for 195 yards. He took what the defense gave him. He didn't bite off more than he could chew. He didn't turn the ball over.

In the third quarter, Garcia lofted a touchdown pass to tight end Aaron Shea that made it 10-10.

The play was executed off a simple rollout featuring Garcia's ability to throw accurately on the run.

On the game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, he stood in the pocket in the face of a fierce pass rush and hit Quincy Morgan for 14 yards on third-and-eight. Later in the same drive, Garcia tossed a 23-yarder to Andre Davis on second-and-nine.

The only thing more impressive than Garcia's clutch play was Davis' decision to keep going to him.

Couch was never Davis' guy because Couch was already the Browns' starting quarterback when Davis took over.

Garcia is Davis' guy.

Garcia took full responsibility for Cleveland's rough start. After recording an unheard-of 0.00 passer rating against Dallas, he refused to make excuses for his poor play. He promised to get better, and he has.



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