|Justin Gage's 6-yard TD catch from Kerry Collins capped an impressive 12-play, 75-yard drive in the first quarter.|
And for Brady Quinn, that perfect pass may have pushed him over the top.
Quinn threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards and outplayed Derek Anderson in perhaps their final auditions for coach Eric Mangini to be Cleveland's starting quarterback, and the Browns beat the Tennessee Titans 23-17 in an exhibition game Saturday night.
Quinn and Anderson entered the third preseason game in a virtual dead heat. Earlier this week, Mangini described their summer-long competition as "very close" and it remains that way. They've posted similar stats with Quinn's TD pass -- the only one by a Cleveland QB in the preseason -- as the only thing separating the pair.
Mangini said he is no nearer to naming his starter for the Sept. 13 opener against Minnesota.
"I'll look at the tape tomorrow, talk to the coaches and continue to evaluate it," Mangini said. "When the decision is made, I'll let everyone know."
After coming off the bench last week, Quinn got the start and finished 11 of 15 for 128 yards. He led the Browns to one TD and two field goals in his four series.
Anderson went 7 of 11 for 77 yards and led the Browns to one field goal on two possessions. He didn't have an interception, but one poorly thrown ball was dropped by Tennessee cornerback Tenard Davis.
Both QBs were happy with their performances and both did their best to sidestep questions about who they think will win their race.
"It's out of my hands," Anderson said. "Let the chips fall."
Quinn was asked if he expected a decision to come this week.
"I expect to practice on Monday," he said. "Derek and I are mentally tough guys. If our coach wants us to go forever, I'm sure we can go forever."
Quinn was given a short field to work with in the third quarter when the Browns recovered a Tennessee fumble on a kickoff at the Titans 34. On first down, Quinn threw underneath to Jamal Lewis who weaved 14 yards on a screen.
Quinn then fired his TD pass on an inside slant to Edwards, who moments earlier made a sensational one-handed catch in the end zone on a pass from Anderson but could only get one foot down.
Edwards refused to handicap the Browns' quarterback derby.
"That's up to coach," he said. "Whatever decision he makes we'll support. Right now, they both look good."
While Cleveland's quarterbacks were under the microscope, Tennessee's Kerry Collins looked best.
Collins went 11 of 14 for 102 yards and threw a 6-yard TD pass to Justin Gage in the first quarter. The 36-year-old Collins can still throw it as hard and far as always and he showed soft touch on several balls.
"Kerry spread the ball around quite a bit," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "We got some things accomplished that we didn't see last week. I was pleased with the drives. We gave up a couple of plays, but I thought we handled the run with the starters"
With Patrick Ramsey nursing sore ribs, Vince Young played three quarters and went 17 of 24 for 174 yards. He threw a 15-yard TD pass to tight end Matthew Mulligan, but also threw an interception that was returned 11 yards for a TD by Browns linebacker Alex Hall.
Young accepted blame for the pick.
"It was my fault," he said. "(Hall) made a great play. I threw a ball behind him (Matt Mulligan). I should have thrown it into the ground."
Collins threw a touchdown pass and played the whole first half last week in a loss at Dallas. But Tennessee's first-team offense managed just 78 yards. The Titans nearly equaled that the second time they had the ball as Collins capped a 75-yard drive with his TD pass to Gage.
Quinn displayed nice arm strength on an 18-yard pass to Mike Furrey and later stepped up and drilled a pass to Joshua Cribbs on third down for another 18 as Cleveland moved to the Titans 10. But the Browns had to settle for Phil Dawson's 21-yard field goal to pull within 7-3.
Anderson impacted the game in a strange way before it was his turn to play.
On Tennessee's first play after Dawson's kick, Collins threw a deep pass down the right side that fell incomplete. However, field judge Terry Brown called a 15-yard penalty on Anderson, who was standing on the Browns sideline, for being outside the restricted bench area.
Brown tripped and fell over Anderson, who appeared to be trying to get out of the official's way.
Anderson admitted he was watching the play on the scoreboard and the next thing he knew the play was on top of him.