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Published: Monday, 9/16/2002

Browns notebook: Rudd still has fans' support

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Cleveland's Mark Word (90) makes a sack and causes Cincinnati quarterback Gus Frerotte to fumble as the Bengals' Richmond Webb reaches to recover the ball. Cleveland's Mark Word (90) makes a sack and causes Cincinnati quarterback Gus Frerotte to fumble as the Bengals' Richmond Webb reaches to recover the ball.
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CLEVELAND - It was a pretty uneventful day for Dwayne Rudd. One tackle, no penalties, no boos.

To the contrary, the man who cost the Cleveland Browns a victory a week ago because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with no time left on the clock said yesterday's 20-7 win over Cincinnati capped an enjoyable day.

“I saw a sign above the tunnel that said, `Dwayne Rudd, No. 57, we still love you,'” Rudd said. “And I made eye contact with a lot of people wearing my jersey. So that all meant a lot to me.

“But the thing I'll remember most is that after what happened last week, after the mistake I made and the way everybody reacted to it, they came back this week and we set an attendance record [73,358].”

A week ago, Rudd thought he had sacked Kansas City quarterback Trent Green to end the game and was unaware Green had lateraled the ball to a teammate. Rudd ripped his helmet off and began celebrating, which is against the rules. Because a game cannot end on a defensive penalty, Kansas City was given an untimed down and kicked a field goal for a 40-39 win.

HELMET HEADS: The same penalty was called once yesterday against Cincinnati and could also have been assessed against Cleveland defensive end Mark Word, who started in place of the injured Courtney Brown.

Word took off his helmet while jumping and running off the field after sacking quarterback Gus Frerotte. No official saw it, but coach Butch Davis did and he let Word know that he wasn't happy.

“Clearly, on the heels of what happened a week ago, Mark should have used better judgment,” Davis said. “Otherwise, I thought he played very, very well.”

Word had five tackles, including three sacks, and forced two fumbles.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was astounded after he was penalized for taking off his helmet.

“A guy hit me and my chin strap came up to my mouth and I had to take my helmet off to fix it,” he said. “They called it because [the Browns] lost the last game that way, so why not make [Cleveland] feel good.”

BROWN'S STATUS: Courtney Brown (strained neck muscles) was cleared to play yesterday by team doctors, according to Davis, but the coach said he elected to put the defensive end on the inactive list for the game.

“I don't think there's a player in the NFL who can just watch films all week, never practice and go play,” Davis said.

ILL-EQUIPPED: Just when you think you've heard it all, here's why running back Corey Dillon took himself out of the game and went to the locker room with about 3:00 left in the first half.

“I had a knee sleeve on that was a little too tight, so it caused my calf to cramp up,” Dillon said. “I just came in and got a bigger sleeve. It wasn't really an issue.”

Dillon left during a Cincinnati possession that reached the Cleveland 17 before a critical interception of Frerotte by Cleveland defensive end Kenard Lang completely changed the momentum.

TWO MORE: Phil Dawson nailed a career-long, 52-yard field goal, bettering his previous best by three yards, to give the Browns a 3-0 lead in the first quarter.

He later added a 45-yarder to stretch his streak to 21 consecutive successes, the NFL's longest active streak. He is within two field goals of Matt Stover's team record for consecutive three-pointers without a miss.

“I don't think there's a kicker in the league kicking better than Phil Dawson, and that goes back to his excellent season last year,” Davis said.



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