The Cleveland Browns have played so many memorable games in franchise history, which dates back to 1946. For the sake of this list we will only go back until 1972, when the author of this piece first began following the team that sports the plain orange helmets.
Here are my five favorite:
Nov. 23, 1975, Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
The Browns were having their second straight terrible season. But thanks to big games from Oscar Roan, Greg Pruitt and quarterback Mike Phipps they beat the Bengals 35-23 and stopped a season-opening nine-game losing streak. Phipps was the player the Browns received in the highly controversial trade with Miami for receiver Paul Warfield. Warfield went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Dolphins. Phipps went on to be the 1970s version of Tim Couch. But on this day he played like Otto Graham as he finished the contest 23-of-36 for 298 yards and two touchdowns.
Roan and Pruitt both caught touchdowns passes and Pruitt finished with over 304 yards to total offense.
Jan. 3, 1987 New Jets at Cleveland Browns (1986 AFC Division Playoff Game)
Cleveland had home-field throughout the playoffs but fell behind 20-10 with under four minutes to play. Bernie Kosar rallied Cleveland to overtime and the Brown finally prevailed in double OT.
Kosar threw for 489 yards in the win. Mark Mosely drilled the game-winning field goal for the Browns, who improved to 13-4 with the win. A heartbreaking loss to Denver loomed in the wings.
Dec. 21, 1980, Cleveland at Cincinnati
The Browns clinched their first trip to the playoffs since 1972 with a 27-24 win. Quarterback Brian Sipe passed for 308 yards and two touchdowns to lead Cleveland. The Bengals drove down to the Browns 11 before time ran out on them. The Browns would go on to play the Oakland Raiders and lose in the famous "Red Right 88" game.
Don Cockroft kicked the game-winning field goal with a 1:25 left.
Oct. 10, 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
The Browns knocked Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw out of the game . The highlight still is played on highlight shows. Defensive end Joe "Turkey" Jones was able to get to Bradshaw and famously cork-screwed the quarterback into the turf at the old Cleveland Stadium. NFL Films has slow-motion film of Bradshaw spasming violent on the ground after the hit. Dave Mays, a rookie quarterback, led the team to victory. He replaced Brian Sipe, who was also knocked out of the game.
January 11, 1987, Denver Broncos vs. Cleveland Browns (AFC Championship Game)
This is one is burned into the memory and damaged psyche of a tortured fan-base. It is known as "The Drive." Cleveland took the lead late in the fourth quarter and pinned Denver on their own 2-yard-line with just about four minutes to play. John Elway took the Broncos 98 yards for the game-tying score to force OT. The Broncos won it on a Rich Karlis 33-yard field goal that many fans think to this day was wide left.