Click HERE to go cast your vote in the championship matchup of "The 16 Best Browns Wins Since The Return"!!!!For the most part, it's been rough going for the Browns since they returned to the NFL fold in 1999. Cleveland is 53-102 since coming back to the league, finding ways to lose games in almost every way imaginable. The "new" Browns have had four head coaches, two winning seasons, countless injuries and unlucky breaks, and haven't won a playoff game. By every measure they've been one of the worst franchises in the NFL over the last decade.
Yet it hasn't all been woe and misery. There have been times where this frustrating, exasperating team has grasped with palsied hands for glory- and found it. We've seen thrilling comebacks, shocking upsets, and brilliant performances by our boys in Seal Brown & Orange- times where, if but for a fleeting few hours, these new Browns have reminded us of the outsized heroes with whom we grew up.
Here are the sixteen greatest wins since the Return, as compiled by the staff of the Cleveland Fan.
October 13, 2008 vs. N.Y. Giants: Beat-down of the Champs- With their backs against the wall and facing the unbeaten defending Super Bowl titlists, the Browns became the fourth NFL team since 1963 to go an entire game without a sack, turnover, or punt, routing the Giants 35-14 in front of a delighted Monday Night crowd at CBS. Eric Wright salted away the win with a 94-yard interception return, punctuating the score with a Deion Sanders-style end-zone dance.
October 5, 2003 @ Pittsburgh: Sunday Night beat-down- For one glorious night, the world was Tim Couch's oyster. Couch completed 20 of 25 for 208 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, as the Browns tore apart the Steelers 33-13 in front of a Heinz Field crowd that couldn't believe what it was seeing. It's the last victory over Pittsburgh to date.
2002 vs. Atlanta: Run, William, Run- The star-crossed William Green had his finest hour, running for 178 yards and breaking loose for a 64-yard insurance score late in the fourth quarter to give the Browns a 24-16 lead in a game they had to win in order to stay alive in the playoff race. The Cleveland defense preserved the lead by stuffing the Falcons three times from the one-yard line in the final minute. Three hours later, thanks to a win by the Jets, the 9-7 Browns were in the playoffs for the first time since the Return.
December 15, 2007 vs. Buffalo: Snow Bowl- With blizzard conditions and whipping winds chilling fans and players alike, the Browns got a safety and two incredible field goals from Phil Dawson, and Jamal Lewis did the rest. Amidst the roars of snow blowers, the workhorse back plowed through the powder for 163 yards on 33 bruising carries, and the defense blanked the Bills in a supremely satisfying 8-0 triumph.
October 21 and November 18, 2001: Sweep of the Rats- Not once, but twice, the Browns shocked the defending World Champion Ravens, first thumping them 24-14 at CBS, and then beating them again in Baltimore a month later, 27-17, behind four interceptions of native Clevelander Elvis Grbac and a heroic performance by the Legend Himself, Ben Gay.
November 4, 2007 vs. Seattle: Overtime Thriller- It felt like the Browns really came back on this day. Derek Anderson and Kellen Winslow were brilliant- DA threw for 364 yards, K2 had eleven receptions for 125 yards, and Cleveland stormed back from an early 21-6 deficit to send the game into overtime. The Browns stuffed the Seahawks on fourth down in the overtime and drove to Phil Dawson's field goal that won it, 33-30. Afterwards Winslow, who had played much of the game with a partially dislocated shoulder, shed tears in the locker room. "We deserve this," he said. Indeed.
November 18, 2007 @ Baltimore: The Dawson-Bar Game- It was a game the Browns won, lost- than won again. After blowing a 27-14 lead and falling behind 30-27, Cleveland rushed downfield for Phil Dawson's attempt at a game-typing 51-yard field goal. Dawson's kick, hammered into the wind, bounced off the goalpost stanchion and fell back into the end zone. The officials initially ruled the kick no good, but after a second look at the tape, reversed their call. The game went into overtime, the Browns mounted a drive, and this time Dawson's 33-yarder was good by plenty, for a 33-30 win.
October 31, 1999 @ New Orleans: Hail Mary to Break their Cherry- Trailing 16-14 with two seconds to play in an atrociously played game between teams that finished the season with a combined 5-27 record, Tim Couch faded back and launched a 56-yard prayer into the end zone. The ball was tipped up in the air by two Saints defenders and fell into the hands of Kevin Johnson, who kept both feet in bounds to give the new Browns their first victory, 21-16.
December 22, 2002 @ Baltimore: Couch leads last-minute win- Tim Couch completed an eight-play, 92-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown dump to Mark Campbell with 29 seconds left to hand the Browns a 14-13 win over the Ravens. Couch then mixed in a dose of smack with his heroics, waving goodbye to the mortified Baltimore faithful.
September 22, 2002 @ Tennessee: The Dennis Northcutt Game- The little receiver returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown, tiptoed along the sideline to recover an onside kick, then spun away from a would-be tackler and scored with twelve seconds left to complete a comeback from a 14-point deficit in the last five minutes. Phil Dawson finished it with a 33-yard field goal in overtime, giving the Browns a 31-28 victory over the stunned Titans.
October 7, 2001 vs. San Diego: Last-Minute Victory- Kevin Johnson hauled in a 19-yard scoring pass from Tim Couch with just over a minute to play, completing a scintillating 50-yard march that gave the Browns a 20-16 victory over the Chargers and pushed their record to 3-1 in Butch Davis's first season at the helm- still the best start after four games since the Return.
September 16, 2007 vs. Cincinnati: The Offense Comes Alive- The Browns and Bengals combined for 96 points and nearly 1,100 yards of total offense. But it was Cleveland that came out on top, 51-45, as new starter Derek Anderson's five touchdown passes and Jamal Lewis's 216 rushing yards helped save a season thought to be lost after the opening-day annihilation at the hands of the Steelers.
September 12, 2004 vs. Baltimore: Opening-Day Rout- Cleveland's defense held the Ravens out of the end zone and forced three turnovers, and Jeff Garcia broke open a 3-3 third-quarter tie with a 46-yard touchdown bomb to Quincy Morgan, as the Browns devoured Baltimore in the franchise's first and only opening-day win since the Return.
November 14, 1999 @ Pittsburgh: Upset at Three Rivers- Tim Couch led a dramatic last-minute drive- aided by a critical personal foul penalty on then-Steeler Mike Vrabel- and Phil Dawson banged a 39-yard field goal into the teeth of a strong wind at the gun to give the Browns a stunning 16-15 victory and avenge the 43-0 humiliation at the hands of the Steelers on the opening night of the new era.
December 8, 2002@ Jacksonville: Quincy Morgan Hail Mary- In a bit of sweet redemption for Bottlegate, Quincy Morgan, whose overruled catch led to the bottle-throwing fiasco against the Jags a year earlier, hauled in a 50-yard prayer with one hand on the ball and no time on the clock. As they had the previous year, the officials reviewed Morgan's catch. This time it held up, and after Phil Dawson's extra point, the Browns had won, 21-20.
December 3, 2006 vs. Kansas City: DA leads comeback- In his first action as a Brown, Derek Anderson relieved an injured Charlie Frye at halftime, threw for 171 yards and two scores, and, pulled off a huge 33-yard scramble to set up Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal in overtime as the Browns overcame a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit to top the Chiefs, 31-28.