In the pantheon of insanely bad Browns losses, yesterday’s 13-12 home loss to the St. Louis Rams may take the cake. Then I thought deeper, since the Browns came back in 1999, their have been a Mount Rushmore of brutal losses in many ways shapes, and forms.
Since it’s all doom and gloom with the Brown and Orange these days, I figured we could list the worst of the worst, and let you all decide which is the grand puba of all of them all.
1999 – Pittsburgh Steelers 43 Cleveland Browns 0 – Thanks, NFL. Make us open up our new stadium after three years off, with an expansion team loaded with junk, against the mighty Steelers on National TV. The game was over when native son Drew Carey gave that embarrassing “everyone who has ever told a Cleveland joke can now shut up” speech before kickoff.
It was a butt-kicking of a massive degree.
2001 – Chicago Bears 27 Cleveland Browns 21 OT - At the time I was living in Chicago, so I went to this game. The Browns, with Tim Couch under center, handled the Bears for the first 57 minutes. With a 21-7 and three minutes to go and the ball, I began to leave Soldier Field. Two guys I knew from home spotted me and yelled “where are you going? How can you leave?” My response – and this is 100% a true story that can be vouched for by six people – “you know what my father always said, you don’t want to be here when we blow it.”
Sure enough, Marty Booker caught a late TD pass. The Bears then recovered an onside kick. On the last play of the game, RB James Allen caught a Shane Matthews Hail Mary TD to tie it and force OT. The Browns won the toss, and on the first play of OT, Couch’s pass tipped off of someone’s helmet, right into the hands of Bears Saftery Mike Brown, who ran it into the end zone for the loss.
And back then I thought I had seen it all….
2001 - Jacksonville Jaguars 15 Cleveland Browns 10 Ah, “Bottlegate.” Trailing 15-10 late in the fourth and the Browns driving to win the game, Quincy Morgan catches a 4th and 1 pass deep in Jags territory for a first down. Couch quickly runs up to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock. There was a strange stoppage of play. The refs go back after spike to review the Morgan catch, which is against the rules. They decide to overrule the play, the Browns now have to turn the ball over on downs and lose the game.
The fans begin spray the field with plastic beer bottles and go nuts on referee Terry McAuley’s crew as they call the game before it ends.
Just more insanity at the Lakefront.
2002 – Kansas City Chiefs 40 Cleveland Browns 39 - Four words – Dwayne Rudd Helmet Toss. To me, this is the top of the mountain of strangest losses of all time.
2002 Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers 36 Cleveland Browns 33 – Maybe the most entertaining game of the new Browns era. The Kelly Holcomb-led Browns offense jumped all over the favored Steelers in the wet snow of Heinz Field.
After taking a 27-14 lead on a Phil Dawson early 4th quarter field goal, the Steelers Tommy Maddox answered with a TD pass to bring his team closer at 27-21. Holcomb brought the Browns right back with a TD drive of his own, hitting Andre Davis with a 22-yard TD strike. Again, the Browns had a two-score lead, 33-21.
That’s when the wheels fell off the wagon.
You all know the story. Foge Fazio’s defensive calls went by the way side, over ruled by dictator Butch Davis. Maddox shredded the Browns prevent defense for another TD, but the Browns had a chance to run the clock out with a 33-28 lead.
On the biggest third down of the season, which would have ended the game for all intents and purposes, Holcomb hit Dennis Northcutt in the wrong spot – his hands – for what would have been the dagger first down. He dropped it. Naturally, Maddox finished off the Browns with a game-winning TD drive and once again, the Steelers got over on us.
Holcomb threw for 429 yards in this one and cemented himself as a legend of Browns lore at that time.
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers 41 Cleveland Browns 0 – Nothing like spending Christmas eve in Cleveland watching your hater rivals disgrace you on your home. Ben Roethlisberger vs Charlie Frye at QB in this one. Steelers ran for 209 yards.
2007 Cincinnati Bengals 19 Cleveland Browns 14 – The Browns came in riding high at 9-5, on the cusp of the playoffs for the first time in five years. All the Browns had to do was beat the lowly Bengals in Cincinnati and they’d have the inside track for a wild card spot.
But the winds….oh how they howled on this day.
Everyone’s favorite genius QB Derek Anderson decided to play his worst game of the year at the worst possible time, throwing four bad interceptions which cost the Browns dearly. They got down 19-0 and never recovered. Game’s like this were why the Browns should have never given DA that contract extension.
2009 Detroit Lions 38 Cleveland Browns 37 – Both teams entered Ford Field with identical 1-8 records. I attended this one as well. Don’t ask me why. It was Brady Quinn’s finest performance as an NFL QB. He led the Browns to a 24-3 first quarter lead with sick TD passed to rookie Mohammad Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, and Chanci Stuckey. But by halftime, Lions Rookie QB Matthew Stafford had returned the favor against a porous Browns secondary.
Late in the fourth Quinn led the Browns on what seemed to be a game winning TD drive. Except there was enough time for Stafford to pull out one more miracle. On a desperation Hail Mary heave on the last play of the game, Browns CB Hank Poteat was called for pass intereference in the end zone, giving the Lions one last play to win it. Of course, they did when Stafford hit Brandon Pettigrew on a 1 yard pass.
2010 New York Jets 26 Cleveland Browns 20 OT – This is just in another long line of “how did that exactly happen again?” losses that we have had to endure. I was in the stadium for this one and walking out I still couldn’t fathom what had just happened.
The Browns played about as well as they could against one of the best teams in the AFC, but trailed 20-13 late in the fourth quarter. Rookie QB Colt McCoy was given one last chance to take his team down the field to tie the game and force OT. He would have to get into the end zone against the vaunted Rex Ryan defense. With 2:42 left, Colt drove the Browns 59 yards in 10 plays, ending with a TD pass to Massaquoi. The legend of Colt was growing deeper.
In OT, the Jets won the toss, but were forced to punt. McCoy then led the Browns into field goal range, but Stuckey, fighting for extra yards, fumbled the ball in front of the Browns sideline. The game looked as it would end in a tie, but the Jets got the ball back after an 18 yard punt return at the Browns 37 yard line with 24 seconds left. The Jets needed one play – Mark Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes for a game-winning TD, crushing the spirit of 78,000 people in attendance.
How’s that for a list? Depressing.