KING / BLADE Enlarge
CLEVELAND - Philadelphia receiver Terrell Owens found humor in the "decorations'' at Cleveland Browns Stadium yesterday. And, in his unique fashion, he found a way to answer them.
After scoring his first touchdown of the game on a 39-yard reception, Owens ran across the end zone and whipped the ball into a banner that read, "T.O. has B.O.''
Later, after scoring on a 40-yard pass from Donovan McNabb at the other end of the stadium, he tried to rip a sign off the wall that offered a picture of Owens and a picture of a rat with the caption, "It Takes One To Know One.''
"I saw the signs when I came out to warm up,'' Owens said after the Eagles' 34-31 overtime win against Cleveland. "My teammates found it funny and I did, too. It kind of fueled me a little. It ignited a fire in me. I had a little something planned for after I scored.''
Owens was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, enforced on the ensuing kickoff, for his actions after the second touchdown.
"That was a nitpicky kind of penalty,'' he said. "I just tore a sign down.''
The outspoken and often outrageous Owens is a target of fans in all opposing stadiums, but especially here because of his running feud with Browns' quarterback Jeff Garcia, with whom he played in San Francisco.
Afterwards, he gave his ex-teammate some credit for Cleveland's upset bid.
"Jeff played well,'' Owens said. "He's a tough, gritty guy. If you give him opportunities, he's going to make plays. I have to give Cleveland credit. They hung in there.''
Owens finished with four catches for 109 yards, marking his fourth straight 100-yard game. His two touchdowns bumped his season total to eight.
Garcia, meanwhile, passed for 236 yards and one touchdown while running for another that sent the game into overtime.
The Browns accomplished such a passing attack, despite the absence of receivers Andre Davis, who was out with a toe injury suffered a week ago, and Andre King, who was lost early in yesterday's game to an ankle injury. Also, newcomer Antonio Bryant was playing despite just two days of practice after arriving from Dallas in a trade for Quincy Morgan.
"This team battled all game long,'' Garcia said. "We never got down. Offensively, there are so many positive things to take out of this game and continue to build on.''
Considering the state of his receiving corps, Garcia was asked if a win might have silenced the criticism he draws from Owens.
"I don't think that anything you do is going to shut him up,'' Garcia said.
DELAYED REACTION: Andre King's ankle injury came midway through the first quarter. But it took awhile for him to go down.
King caught a pass across the middle and reached for his left ankle immediately upon being tackled. But he jumped up and headed back to the huddle, and then went to the line of scrimmage before the Browns were flagged for an illegal formation. He went back to the huddle, then back to the line before going down in a heap and being assisted from the field.
SCARY, THEN HAIRY: After he helped deliver the hit that forced a fumble by Cleveland's Frisman Jackson on a kickoff return early in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia's Jason Short lay motionless on the field, drawing immediate attention from both teams' medical staffs. Players from both squads came onto the field in a show of concern.
Short reportedly was knocked out, but after regaining consciousness --with blood splattering his face and uniform - and being helped onto a cart, he made a derogatory gesture and yelled some obscenities at Cleveland players, a couple of whom had to be restrained.
"It was crazy,'' said Browns safety Earl Little. "He's all bloody and we're all concerned with an injury like that, the neck or something, and he gets up and flips us the middle finger and starts shouting at us. I don't know what his problem was. There was no cheap shot. He just got the crap knocked out of him.''
Short, who suffered a concussion on the play, was not available for comment after the game.
THREE-DOT DATA: In two career games at Browns Stadium, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is 51 of 79 passing for 766 yards and eight touchdowns ... With their 14-7 edge yesterday, the Eagles have outscored opponents by 62-17 in first-quarter play this season ... Phil Dawson's field goal in the opening seconds of the second quarter was his 24th straight success, a new Cleveland franchise record ... When the Browns pulled within 21-17 late in the first half, it marked the most points surrendered by Philadelphia in any entire game this season ... Cleveland tried in vain to post its first 4-0 start at home since 1963 ... The Browns have held visiting teams to 8-of-49 (16.3 per cent) on third-down conversions this season ... Garcia's rushing touchdown gives him nine over the past two seasons, the most of any NFL quarterback in that span ... Browns' end Ebenezer Ekuban had a sack yesterday to tie Kenard Lang for the team lead with four this year.41.50436 -81.69046