The rules for today are quite simple. Feel free to play along here in the comments or on social media as every Cleveland Browns fan can be thankful for any positive memory that can be shared on this holiday weekend. Just write 100 to 300 words about your favorite Browns post-1999 victory. Include a YouTube video of the game or highlights at the end if you can find one so that we can all share in memories that might have faded a bit after watching the current iteration redefine losing streaks.
If possible, please try to find a unique win from what others have posted. Ah heck, it’s hard enough to find a Browns win anymore. Feel free to add onto the game descriptions we have below with any memories you had about it too.
We’ll go first…
Browns 20, Ravens 3
September 12, 2004
In some circles,1 the Browns victory over the Ravens in 2004 is known as the Dodo Bird Game. In the rarest of feats, the Browns claimed victory in Week 1 of a season. As WFNY has cataloged, the victory is the ONLY time the Browns have begun a season 1-0 since returning to the NFL in 1999. Jeff Garcia would start his only season at quarterback for the Browns by rushing and throwing for a touchdown (Quincy Morgan 46 yard bomb!) and being efficient with the football as the defense dominated the Ravens offense.2 After forcing punts on seven of their first eight possessions, the Browns would take the ball away on the last three when the Kyler Boller led team was desperate to force the action. One of those takeaways being on a fumble by Boller after back-to-back sacks by Kenard Lang, who finished with three.
The game was so magnificent because it was a mirror image of so many brutal contests the Browns have lost. They faced a hated division rival, dominated them in all phases of the game, and pulled away late when the Ravens got desperate. It was beautiful. Then again, if it’s not on YouTube, then did it actually happen? No video evidence seems to exist for the Dodo Bird Game, which is fitting.
Gerbs: In 2008, I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attending Bible school. I had moved 1,000 miles away from my family and any support system I had had previously. Living with a roommate I barely knew, in an apartment we could barely afford, working a job I didn’t necessarily like, going to school four-to-five hours a day. I was desperate for something from home, and on my birthday, October 13th, I got to watch my beloved Cleveland Browns play on national television. Browns games don’t come on that often in Oklahoma, where high school games are played in 20,000 seat stadiums and college games are even crazier, so I was ecstatic to watch my boys take on reigning world champion Giants. It was going to be a butt whooping, but I didn’t care. Little did I know, it would be a butt whooping…but for the Giants. I don’t remember much of the game, the years have faded away much of the play by play, but I somehow knew I could count on the Browns to give me the best birthday present I could get: a win.
Browns 29, Titans 28
October 5, 2014
A Will family tradition was born in 2013. My father, brothers, and I would venture to one Browns away game each year. The first trip was a cold, meaningless loss to the Steelers in which Rob Chudzinski rode the bus home jobless. We vowed to make the next trip a warmer, earlier occasion. We settled on Nashville in early October. Entering the contest off a bye week and with a 1-2 record with two losses by a field goal, the 2014 Browns were primed for an interesting game against a poor Titans team starting Jake Locker. The Browns Brownsed early, permitting the hapless Titans to take a 28-3 lead in the second quarter. Meanwhile, the fifty something year old man in front of us decked out in a Titans jersey, under armour pants and sleeves, wide receiver gloves, and titan blue face paint was borderline insufferable with his first down motions. It looked like yet another colossal Brownsian disaster. When Locker found Justin Hunter for a 75 yard touchdown to balloon the lead to 25, all hope seemed lost. The Browns countered with a quick 90 yard scoring drive to make the score seem a little more reasonable heading into halftime. The second half is still a collective blur. The Browns had two third quarter drives stall out on downs deep in Tennessee territory, with the second leading to a Tank Carder blocked punt for a safety. At 28-15, the ready-to-play Titans fan in front of us was nervously pacing, and much, much quieter. Two Travis Benjamin touchdown receptions from Brian Hoyer later, the Browns had somehow clutched victory from the jaws of defeat, in a nice change of pace. While descending the the ramps to leave what was then LP Field, Browns fans took over the volume level with Brian Hoyer chants and choruses. The experience was surreal and the short-lived Hoyer legend was born.
Browns 24 Falcons 16
December 29, 2002
Run, William, Run! Those were the words of Browns radio play-by-play announcer Jim Donovan in the Browns game clinching play that resulted in the Browns final regular season win of the 2002 season, which also catapulted them into the playoffs with some help from around the league. The game had it all. Michael Vick, a big run play, a goal line stand and playoffs on the line. The Browns were up 17-16 with around four minutes to play. The Browns needed to run the clock out to seal the win. On a 2nd-and-3, quarterback Kelly Holcomb handed the ball off to the much-maligned William Green. Green, though, was the hero in this circumstance, taking the handoff and running 64 yards to the endzone. But, even with this momentous play, as Browns fans, most knew that the game was not over from there and it was not. The Falcons, behind quarterback Michael Vick, marched down the field to get into a 1st-and-goal situation from the four yard line. Though, this would not be another named loss for the Browns. The defense stood strong and halted the Falcons from scoring on four straight plays, cementing the win.
But, the win was only the first part. I then remember following on my radio the New York Jets versus Green Bay Packers game. I remember rooting for Chad Pennington and Jets and being so happy that the Browns were finally reaching the playoffs, the first time I could fully appreciate a playoff game in my lifetime. It was the first time the Browns made the playoffs since 1994. It was one of my favorite moments in my life as a Browns fan.
Browns 21 Saints 16
October 31, 1999
There have been more important wins, that’s for sure. But to me, there hasn’t been a win I remember more than this one. I was too young to truly understand the Browns move after 1995 and what it meant to everyone. I knew people were upset, but I was too sheltered in central Ohio to understand the true ramifications. I struggled the next three season to find a team to follow, then they came back. I had my rooting interest back as I was coming into an age when I was falling in love with the game and cared about it more than ever. Then they drafted Tim Couch and I was hooked for good.
I was so excited for NFL football again that I could really care about. I can’t quite put that into words. After the initial honeymoon period wore off, things were bleak for the 99′ Browns. I was beyond excited to have the Browns back, don’t get me wrong, but after starting 0-7, I didn’t find my young self too enthralled about going 0-16. It seemed all to plausible that this destiny was happening. Enter Tim Couch and Kevin Johnson to save my football life, and provide as memorable a win as I can remember seeing in my young life.
The Browns, who finished 2-14, and the Saints, who finished 3-13, were in the midst of an ugly mid-season battle between two really bad teams. Midway through the third quarter the Browns had a 14-10 lead, but two Saints field goals–the final one with 21 seconds left–put the Saints up 16-14. Then a miracle happened in the final seconds. Kevin Johnson found his way to the receiving end of a last-second 58-yard Hail Mary from Tim Couch to give the Cleveland Browns their first victory in 1,409 days, a 21-16 win over New Orleans on this date, Oct. 31, in 1999. It was the first win for the new Browns, and I feel in love all over again.