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Lions, Detmer effort terrible



Published: Mon, September 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



CLEVELAND -- Even with the Cincinnati Bengals coming to town on Nov. 25, it's hard to imagine that Browns fans will see a worse team this year than the Detroit Lions.

Following Cleveland's 24-14 victory over the inept Lions Sunday, football fans have to wonder: Just how bad is quarterback Charlie Batch?

Maybe a better question is how much of an offensive genius is Detroit Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg?

The Lions coach, who earned heaps of praise last season as the 49ers offensive coordinator, was on Carmen Policy's short list of possible replacements after Chris Palmer was fired last January.

Browns fans should be breathing huge sighs of relief today that Mornhinweg never came to Cleveland for an interview.

Batch, the Lions quarterback the past three seasons, was benched after Detroit lost to Green Bay, 28-6, two weeks ago.

Mornhinweg promoted Ty Detmer, who wasn't good enough to start over Browns rookie Tim Couch in 1999, for Sunday's game.

Seven interceptions: Five interceptions later, with the Browns ahead 24-7 early in the fourth quarter, Detmer was still in the game. Detmer would go on to throw two more.

"I'm still waiting to wake up from this nightmare," Detmer said. "I know better than to force it and just tried to do too much."

Detmer started the Browns first game of the 1999 season, a 43-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also started the season finale against the Colts when Couch was sidelined by an injury.

He then missed the 2000 season with an injured right Achilles tendon and was traded to the Lions three weeks ago after Kelly Holcomb captured the Browns backup job.

Batch, admittedly, had a poor preseason, particularly in the Aug. 25 game at Heinz Field against the Steelers.

But why leave Detmer in after five pickoffs?

"Typically, I will let a man finish the football game, especially if we have a chance to win," said Mornhinweg, who did admit he considered switching to Batch.

Detmer led the Lions on a touchdown drive, cutting Cleveland's lead to 10 points with 11:25 to go.

But Detroit's final possessions ended with turnovers to preserve the Browns' victory.

No professional sports league does elaborate productions quite like the NFL. The Super Bowl pre-game and halftime shows are in a league of their own.

Pre-game show: So it wasn't surprising that the league came through again with a special pre-game ceremony paying tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.

Ticketholders were given small American flags upon entering the stadium.

And when New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi was shown singing "America the Beautiful" in Manhattan surrounded by New York City police and firefighters, dry eyes were hard to spot.

Slick? Maybe.

Effective? No doubt.

Following a moment of silence, country singer Meredith Edwards sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" a capella surrounded on the Cleveland Browns Stadium field by 50 American flags held by members of the Ohio National Guard and color guards from the Cleveland police and fire units.

The players noticed.

"It was very emotional, very touching," Browns player representative Jamir Miller said. "It was nice that we did it and I was happy to be a part of it."

Miller said there is no question that last week's postponements were the right thing. "Last week was not appropriate for us to play."

Rookie wide receiver Quincy Morgan, who caught his first NFL touchdown pass, said, "It was great to hear everyone chant 'USA' and to see the flags waving.

"The way the lady performed the national anthem, that got us fired up because she really put her heart into it."

XTom Williams covers the NFL for The Vindicator. Write him at williams@vindy.com.




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