You might say the Browns’ prayers were answered when they played the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 8, 2002.
It occurred when quarterback Tim Couch threw a 50-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to wide receiver Quincy Morgan as time expired to provide a 21-20 victory that stunned head coach Tom Coughlin and his Jaguars, along with a crowd of 46,267 at Alltel Stadium.
At the same time, with the emotional victory, the Browns -- who had suffered a disappointing, 13-6 home loss to the Carolina Panthers the week before and needed a real pick-me-up as they headed down the stretch -- began thinking that there might be something special to this season after all. They improved to 7-6 to remain in the AFC playoff hunt with three games left, while dropping the Jaguars to 5-8.
The end of the game was as improbable as it was unbelievable.
Things did not look good at all for the Browns in the several minutes leading up to Couch’s big throw.
Danny Boyd’s 33-yard field goal with 2:35 left put the Jaguars ahead, 17-14.
Then, on the ensuing possession, Couch’s pass for wide receiver Kevin Johnson was intercepted by Akin Ayodele and returned 22 yards to the Cleveland 24 with but 1:25 remaining.
The Browns did manage to hold the Jaguars to another Boyd field goal, this one a 22-yarder, and, by using all three of their timeouts, allowed only 29 seconds to go off the clock in the process, leaving 56 seconds with which to stage a comeback.
Jamel White returned Boyd’s squib kickoff 10 yards to the Cleveland 47. The Browns had great field position and a good amount of time, 47 seconds, but being six points behind, they needed to score a touchdown, which would be extremely difficult to do without the ability to stop the clock. They could take a shot or two into the middle of the field, but then they would have to heave a long one into the end zone and hope for the best.
The well-thought-out plan was all but thwarted immediately when Couch was sacked for a five-yard loss to the 42 on the first play. Couch got eight yards of it back to the 50 on a pass to White, but now there was time for just one more play.
The only question was where in the end zone -- and to whom -- Couch was going to throw. He picked Morgan, who had caught a 60-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14-14 in the the third quarter, and sent him to a spot along the right sideline just past the goal line. When Morgan got there, he was greeted by nearly every member of the Jaguars defense. It was like a human chain.
But somehow, some way, Morgan was able to outjump all of them to grab the ball -- and the miracle win.
Cleveland’s other points came on William Green’s three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, tying the score at 7-7.
This Day in Browns History is presented by Cleveland Clinic.