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Welcome (back) win

The Browns defeat the Cowboys 20-17 in overtime in their return to a football field after a three-season absence.

As the opening kickoff toppled end over end, three painful years of life without pro football stopped in Cleveland.

The Browns were back on the field, back in the NFL and back in front of the same fans who couldn't say goodbye to them.

The new Cleveland Browns' rebirth became reality Monday night with a 20-17 overtime victory against the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.

"Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming," Bobby Johnson of Massillon yelled as the game kicked off.

Phil Dawson kicked a 20-yard field goal with 8:06 remaining in overtime for the Browns.

The winning drive was set up by rookie cornerback Daylon McCutcheon's second interception.

Browns rookie quarterback Tim Couch dazzled in his pro debut. Couch, the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft, looked like a seasoned pro in his first NFL game. He completed 11 of 17 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.

After replacing starter Ty Detmer early in the second quarter, Couch overthrew his first attempt before completing 10 straight. He and rookie Kevin Johnson hooked up for 24-yard touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Browns a 14-7 lead.

Jason Garrett threw two TDs for Dallas, which rested most of its regulars after the first quarter. Troy Aikman finished 9-for-11 for 85 yards.

But whether they had won or lost, the night belonged to Cleveland and the Browns, whose first win was also the first game as a head coach for Chris Palmer.

Browns fans hadn't been able to cheer their beloved team since Dec. 17, 1995, the final game at Cleveland Stadium after former owner Art Modell announced he was moving his team to Baltimore.

To showcase the Browns' return, the league switched this year's Hall of Fame Game from Saturday to Monday night so a national TV audience could see the new Browns' debut.

"It's a proud night for the NFL and Cleveland," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said moments before kickoff. "Now the tradition and history can go on for another century."