Later today, the New York Jets take on the winless Cleveland Browns. After losing their first two games of the season, the Jets will attempt to climb over .500.
Cleveland, you’ve seen the New York Jets before. But you’ve never seen them quite like this.
Overall, this marks the 24th all-time regular season meeting between these two franchises with the Cleveland Browns owning a slight 12-11 edge. They have met once in the postseason with the Browns winning in the 1986 Divisional Round. Currently, the New York Jets have a four-game win streak against Cleveland and are 5-3 against the Browns since they returned to the NFL in 1999.
Explaining the Browns’ history is a bit difficult. The Browns have a truly unique story since their original franchise that entered the 1970 merger is in Baltimore and playing as the Ravens.
When Art Model moved the team from Cleveland to Baltimore after the 1995 season, the NFL put in a stipulation that the Ravens would become an expansion team. The entire configuration can be confusing to think about but essentially the team that played during the 1995 season as the Cleveland Browns would start 1996 as an expansion franchise in Baltimore.
The NFL recognized the importance of the city of Cleveland and the Browns in NFL history and ruled that they would continue to play in 1999. All of the records and history would take a three-year hiatus.
The Jets and Browns have had some memorable matchups in their history. Here are five of the best matchups of all-time between these two franchises.
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1. September 21, 1970
Browns 31, Jets 21 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium
In the 1970 season opener, the New York Jets traveled to Cleveland for the first ever Monday Night Football game.
Trailing 24-21, the Jets had a last chance to rally for the win, but Namath was intercepted by Billy Andrews, who ran the ball in 25 yards for a pick-six to put the game away.
2. September 2, 1979
Browns 25, Jets 22 (OT) at Shea Stadium
The New York Jets and Cleveland Browns opened at Shea Stadium for the start of the 1979 season.
The Jets were trailing 19-13 when Kevin Long scored from five yards out with under a minute left to tie the game. Needing just an extra-point to go ahead, Jets kicker Pat Leahy missed the easy attempt.
However, on the kickoff back to Cleveland, the Browns fumbled the ball, giving the Jets another chance for victory. Leahy then connected, this time from 21 yards out, to give the Jets a 22-19 lead.
The Browns took over at their own 16 with 31 seconds left and no timeouts. Thinking the game was over, Jets QB Matt Robinson took the tape off his injured thumb, anticipating he wouldn’t be needed for the rest of the game.
Robinson celebrated too soon. Miraculously, the Browns rallied behind QB Brian Sipe’s arm. Sipe completed two passes to Dave Logan, the second one of which was a miraculous tip, slap, bumble catch on the side over two Jets defenders for a 37-yard gain with only 9 seconds remaining. If that wasn’t bad enough, Mark Gastineau was called for roughing the passer to add 15 more yards to move the Browns into field goal territory.
Not wanting to risk another play that would run out the clock, Browns kicker Don Cockroft connected on a 35-yard field goal to tie the game.
In overtime, the game-changing play occurred when Jets QB Matt Robinson, now playing without the tape on his injured thumb, lost control of a pass that wobbled into the hands of Browns defensive back Oliver Davis. Davis returned the ball inside the Jets 35. Sipe and Logan connected again, putting the Browns inside the 10-yard line and setting up the game-winning 27-yard field goal for Cockroft.
The loss cost Matt Robinson his starting position at QB, as the Jets were furious with him for removing the tape on his thumb without permission.
3. January 3, 1987
Browns 23, Jets 20 (2 OT) at Cleveland Municipal Stadium
In their only postseason meeting, the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns played a memorable game that was finally decided in double overtime.
The New York Jets started the 1986 season 10-1 and looked to be the best team in the AFC before injuries derailed them. They finished the regular season losing their last five games but still qualified as a Wild Card.
They defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-15 in the AFC Wild Card game. They then headed to Cleveland for a matchup with AFC Central Division Champ and overall number one seed Cleveland Browns.
After Freeman McNeil scored from 24-yards out to give the Jets a 10-point lead with just over four minutes remaining, it looked as though the Jets would be on their way to Denver for the AFC Championship Game.
However, the Browns rallied. Helped by a late hit by Mark Gastineau that prevented a 3rd and 24, the Browns scored with just under two minutes left to cut the lead to three. The Jets were then unable to secure the game with a first down and gave the ball back to Cleveland with just under a minute left.
Led by Bernie Kosar and his 489 passing yards, the Browns quickly drove into field goal position where Matt Moseley tied the game with a 22-yard field goal.
In overtime, the Jets got a second life when Moseley missed a chip shot (23-yard FG) in the first overtime but were unable to take advantage of the blunder. When Moseley got another chance in the second overtime, he connected on a 27-yd FG to send Jets fans away in misery.
4. November 14, 2010
Jets 26, Browns 20 at Cleveland Browns Stadium
After coming off a dramatic overtime win the week before, at Detroit, the New York Jets traveled the Cleveland to take on the Browns.
The New York Jets looked like they would win in regulation when Nick Folk put them ahead by seven with just 2:42 remaining. However, the Browns rallied and when Colt McCoy hit Mohamed Massaquoi for the tying TD, the Jets’ lead was gone.
The two teams traded possessions for the entire OT without anyone scoring and it looked like the game would end in a tie. After a sack by Jason Taylor and Shaun Ellis on McCoy, the Browns punted the ball back to the Jets where Jim Leonhard returned the ball to the Browns 37.
Needing a few more yards to get into field goal territory, the Jets had no timeouts and 24 seconds to do that. Jets QB Mark Sanchez then hit Santonio Holmes on a slant pattern and Holmes broke free and ran the rest of the way for a game-winning TD.
5. October 21, 2002
Browns 24, Jets 21 at Giants Stadium
After starting the season 2-5, the New York Jets were given a second life with Chad Pennington taking over as their starting QB.
The New York Jets struck quickly in the first half, jumping out to a 21-3 lead and looked as if they would run away with the game.
However, the Browns defense stiffened and Tim Couch put on a brilliant performance in the second half to lead the Browns back. Couch threw for 294 yards and two TD and engineered a wonderful nine-minute drive in the fourth quarter that finished with Phil Dawson’s go-ahead 35-yard FG.
Pennington then drove the Jets into field goal range, but Courtney Brown missed a 44-yard FG that ended the Jets chances of forcing overtime.
An interesting history between these two teams, no doubt. So what will this afternoon bring? Another epic conclusion to a great rivalry?
We’ll just have to wait and see.