Quarterback Brian Sipe passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third, all late in the first half today, to help the Cleveland Browns (2-2) erase a 10-point deficit and send the Atlanta Falcons (3-1) to their first defeat, 28-17.
Both of the scoring passes -- to running back Mike Pruitt and tight end Ozzie Newsome -- and Sipe's touchdown run came as Cleveland took a 21-10 halftime lead.
Atlanta had taken an early 10-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Mick Luckhurst (set up when Cleveland's Cleo Montgomery fumbled a punt at his 16) and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Steve Bartkowski to Alfred Jenkins.
Falcon fumbles set up the Browns' second and third touchdowns. Atlanta Coach Leeman Bennett said he "probably made a mistake" in having his team attempt to recover the lead in the second quarter, blaming the strategy for the fumbles.
"Looking back, I might have gone the other way and run the clock out. We might have held them to only 14 points," Bennett said.
"We had the momentum in the first quarter and the first half, but let it get away from us," said Falcon linebacker Buddy Curry. "You can't afford that against a team like Cleveland."
Despite the loss, the Falcons kept a couple of individual streaks alive. For the 14th consecutive game, Bartkowski threw a touchdown pass and for the 77th straight game, Jenkins caught a pass.
Bartkowski, playing despite sore ribs, completed 12 of 30 passes for 176 yards; he had two passes intercepted. He was sacked three times for losses totaling 26 yards and had to leave the game briefly after being tackled hard during the second half.
Sipe completed 21 of 34 passes for 215 yards.
Dave Logan, a receiver for the Browns, got the first interception of his pro career seconds before the end of the game. He was inserted as a safety when the Browns went into their prevent defense for the final Falcon series.