This Day in Browns History: Jan. 8, Part II

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 8, 2012 – 6:24 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

The Browns’ last loss on the way to a 10-5 finish in 1987  was to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts, who had fallen to the Browns, 24-9, the previous year in a game that wasn’t nearly that close, came to Cleveland on Dec. 6 and turned the tables on coach Marty Schottenheimer’s club, escaping with a 9-7 win.

Now, five weeks later at Cleveland Stadium again, but with the stakes much, much higher this time, the Browns had a shot at revenge.

And they got it.

Bernie Kosar passed for three touchdowns and inside linebacker Eddie Johnson made the hit of the year to lead the Browns to a big second half and a 38-21 victory over Indianapolis in an AFC divisional playoff game on Jan. 9, 1988 before a season-high crowd of 78,586.

It was a back-and-forth struggle throughout the first half. The Browns, who had finished 10-5 in the strike-shortened season and won the Central Division title for third straight year, opened the scoring with Kosar’s 10-yard TD pass to running back Earnest Byner.

Jack Trudeau answered that by throwing a two-yarder to Pat Beach to tie the game at 7-7 after one quarter.

It was 14-14 at halftime after Kosar threw 39 yards to wide receiver Reggie Langhorne, and Trudeau passed 19 yards to running back Eric Dickerson.

The Colts, who won the AFC East with a 9-6 record, had methodically driven into Cleveland territory and appeared ready to take their first lead when Johnson decided to take matters into his own hands. One of the hardest hitters the Browns have ever had, he came clean on a blitz and crushed Trudeau just as he was throwing.

The ball went straight up into the air like a pop-up, and free safety Felix Wright grabbed it for the interception.

You could just feel the momentum shift. It was the break the Browns needed to begin to take control of the game.

They marched back down the field the other way and scored on Byner’s two-yard run to go ahead for good, 21-14.

The Browns then opened the fourth quarter by scoring 10 more points, finishing off their 17-0 run, to pump the lead to 31-14, getting a 22-yard field goal by Matt Bahr and Kosar’s two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brian Brennan.

The Colts came back with a one-yard TD run by Albert Bentley to make it 31-21, but the Browns, remembering that disappointing regular-season loss to Indianapolis, made sure it wouldn’t happen again when cornerback Frank Minnifield returned an interception 48 yards for a game-clinching score and a 38-21 advantage.

The Browns had outscored the Colts, 24-7, in the second half.

Kosar hit on 20 of 31 passes, a 64.9 completion percentage, for 229 yards and the three touchdowns with one interception for a 105.4 quarterback rating.

Byner rushed for 122 yards in 23 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt, and tied tight end Ozzie Newsome for the team lead in receptions with four. Newsome had 65 receiving yards.

All that added up to give the Browns a big edge in total yards, 404 to 315, that much sought-after revenge and, most important of all,  a second straight berth in the AFC Championship Game.


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 8, Part I

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 8, 2012 – 6:22 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

The 1982 season was as odd as any the NFL has seen.

A 57-day players strike caused the regular season to be shortened from 16 to nine games, the fewest in league history.

The resulting inequities in the schedule caused the NFL to scrap its divisions and normal playoff format. The postseason became something called the Super Bowl Tournament, made up of 16 teams – the top eight in the NFC and AFC.

For the first time in Browns history, they made the postseason with a losing record. One of three AFC teams with a 4-5 record, they edged out the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks for the eighth and final playoff spot. It was Cleveland’s second trip to the postseason in three years.

As the eighth seed, the Browns were pitted against the AFC’s top-seeded team, the Los Angeles Raiders (8-1), in a first-round game on Jan. 8, 1983 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Playing the Raiders there for the first time – they had met the then-Los Angeles Rams there many time since entering the NFL in 1950 – the Browns played a good first half before losing, 27-10.

Ironically, the last time the Browns made the playoffs, following that 1980 Kardiac Kids season, they also fell to the Raiders, 14-12, in an AFC divisional game on Jan. 4, 1981 at Cleveland. The Raiders were based in Oakland then. They moved to Los Angeles for the 1982 season, but still practiced in Oakland.

At least Los Angeles had two pro teams for the first time since 1960, when the Chargers were based there in the inaugural season of the AFL and shared the city with the NFL’s Rams. The Chargers moved to San Diego for the 1961 season.

Yes, that 1982 season was strange indeed.

The Browns were in a 10-10 tie in the second quarter, getting a 52-yard field goal by Matt Bahr and a 43-yard touchdown pass from Paul McDonald to wide receiver Ricky Feacher. McDonald had taken over as the starter from Brian Sipe with three games left in the regular season, helping the Browns to two victories that were key in them making the playoffs.

The Raiders’ points came on a 27-yard field goal by Chris Bahr, Matt’s brother, and Marcus Allen’s two-yard TD run.

Later in the second quarter, defensive end Lyle Alzado, who had been traded to the Raiders from the Browns in the offseason along with running back Greg Pruitt, forced a fumble deep in Los Angeles territory. That seemed to turn the tide in the Raiders’ favor.

Chris Bahr connected on a 37-yard field goal to give the hosts a 13-10 halftime lead, and they steadily built upon that.

The Raiders got a touchdown run in both the third and fourth quarters, a three-yarder by Allen and then a one-yarder by Frank Hawkins.

The Raiders, who moved back to Oakland for the 1995 season and have remained there ever since, rushed for 140 yards overall. However, it was through the air that they really hurt the Browns, with Jim Plunkett throwing for a career-high 386 yards by completing 24 of 37 attempts. Adding to the oddity of the season, he did not throw a scoring pass and had two interceptions – by veteran safety Clarence Scott and second-year cornerback Hanford Dixon.

McDonald completed 18 of 37 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, and his quarterback rating of 83.3 was better than that of Plunkett (77.1).

Feacher, tight end Ozzie Newsome and wide receiver Dwight Walker all had four catches for the Browns, but Feacher led the way – by far — in receiving yards with 124.

*

This was also a big date in the career of Browns Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who now resides in Los Angeles. It was on Jan. 8, 1958 that it was announced that Brown, who had just completed his rookie year of 1957, was a unanimous selection to the Associated Press’ All-NFL team and had been named as the Player, Back and Rookie of the Year by the wire service.

Five days earlier, on Jan. 3, 1958, it was announced that Brown had finished in a second-place tie for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award by United Press. Brown and Baltimore Colts quarterback John Unitas had both garnered seven votes to San Francisco quarterback Y.A. Tittle’s 11.

Brown led the NFL with 942 rushing yards and helped the Browns, who in 1956 had suffered through their first losing season with a 5-7 mark, to a 9-3 record and the Eastern Conference championship.

Also, a year later, on Jan. 8, 1959, Brown was named the league’s Player of the Year by United Press. He had an even better – much better, in fact – second season in 1958, leading the NFL with 1,527 yards rushing yards and in scoring with 108 points. The Browns fell just short of getting back to the NFL Championship Game for the second straight year.


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