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Monday, October 28, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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NFL

AFC notebook: Browns win for Lerner

Four days after team owner Al Lerner died, the Cleveland Browns rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the New York Jets 24-21.

"I told the football team that Al Lerner's life was about things like today," Coach Butch Davis said. "Perseverance, character and never, ever surrendering. I know for a fact that Al is proud of the football team today, the way it began to fight."

Lerner, a businessman who brought the NFL back to Cleveland in 1999, died Wednesday at age 69. Flags flew at half-staff at Giants Stadium, a moment of silence was held before kickoff, and the Browns will wear patches with the initials AL for the rest of the season.

Quarterback Tim Couch, who engineered the comeback with two second-half touchdowns and a two-point conversion, echoed his coach's thoughts.

"We as players loved Mr. Lerner and wanted to play well for him and his family," said Couch, who completed 33 of 49 passes for 307 yards. "This was about courage and heart, and it exemplified what Mr. Lerner was all about."

Buffalo: FB Larry Centers failed to catch a pass, ending his consecutive-games streak with a reception at 143. Centers had the league's third-longest active streak, behind Jerry Rice (247) and Tim Brown (146).

Cincinnati: After blowing a 14-point lead and losing by inches to Tennessee yesterday, Coach Dick LeBeau predicted a win next Sunday in Houston: "We had every opportunity to win, and next week we will win."

Houston: The Texans' second win of the season — against the Jacksonville Jaguars — was especially sweet for DLs Seth Payne and Gary Walker, who along with injured OT Tony Boselli were let go by Jacksonville in the expansion draft. Walker and Payne led Houston's domination of the Jags offense. The Texans held Fred Taylor to 84 yards and the Jaguars to 290. "It feels great," Walker said, "not only to come back here and win in Jacksonville, but just to get a win as a team."

Jacksonville: Coach Tom Coughlin's decision to bring in kicker Tim Seder this week didn't pay off. Seder missed two field goals — from 50 and 35 yards. "I'll look at it (today) like I always do," Coughlin said. "I'll see what's out there."

Kansas City: At halftime, the Chiefs inducted retired OT John Alt into their Ring of Fame and honored the Dallas Texans' 1962 AFL championship team.

New England: After winning their first three games, the Patriots have lost the past four, including a 24-16 loss to Denver yesterday. "You win by playing with heart, energy and enthusiasm," QB Tom Brady said. "The last four games, it's the other teams that have shown that."

Oakland: DT Sam Adams, who continues to struggle with knee problems, was a game-day scratch. He was to undergo an MRI today.

San Diego: SS Rodney Harrison will meet with an NFL executive in New York today to appeal his one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Oakland's Jerry Rice. Harrison, a two-time Pro Bowl player, was suspended for next Sunday's game against the Jets.

Tennessee: In his first start since suffering a separated left shoulder Sept. 29, WR Derrick Mason caught two TD passes and had seven catches for 98 yards.

— Seattle Times news services

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