No matter the score of the game or the time remaining on the clock, a football team can never, ever give up.
It just needs to keep playing hard, because there’s no telling what might happen.
The Browns were prime examples of that on Jan. 3, 1987 against the New York Jets at Cleveland Stadium in the 1986 AFC divisional playoffs. Down by 10 points with 4:14 remaining in regulation, they put on one of the best postseason comebacks in team history, rallying to tie the score and then finally winning, 23-20, in two overtimes.
Mark Moseley ended the NFL’s third-longest game -- and one of the most exciting and dramatic the Browns have ever played -- when he kicked a 27-yard field goal 2:02 into the second OT, giving the crowd of 78,106 a chance to finally exhale.
Moseley, a longtime Washington Redskin who was signed when Matt Bahr broke his leg six weeks earlier, had tied the game, 20-20, with a 22-yarder just before time ran out in the fourth quarter. There was no scoring in the first OT.
The Browns dominated the game statistically but couldn’t finish drives. They had an advantage of 553-287 in total yards, with quarterback Bernie Kosar setting NFL postseason records for passing attempts (64) and yards (489). He completed 33 passes, one of which for a touchdown, with two interceptions.
The teams matched each other score for score in the first half. The Jets struck first on Pat Ryan’s 42-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Wesley Walker, then the Browns tied it 7-7 later in the first quarter on Kosar’s 37-yard throw to running back Herman Fontenot.
It was still deadlocked, 10-10, at halftime after the clubs traded field goals in the second quarter, Moseley connecting from 38 yards and then Pat Leahy from 46.
Leahy’s 37-yarder was the only scoring in the third quarter, giving the Jets a 13-10 lead.
The margin went to 20-10 with 4:14 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard scoring run by Freeman McNeill.
Things didn’t look good, but the Browns refused to quit. With the help of a roughing-the-passer penalty on Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, they drove for Kevin Mack’s one-yard TD run to make it 20-17. The Browns then forced the Jets to go three plays and out on the ensuing possession to get the ball back, and marched to the New York 5 to set up Moseley for the game-tying field goal.
It would be a while longer, though, before the drama ended.
Tight end Ozzie Newsome led the Browns with six receptions for 114 yards. Wide receiver Webster Slaughter also caught six passes for 86 yards, and Fontenot and Mack had five catches each.
The Browns excelled defensively as well, setting a playoff record with six sacks, including three by veteran end Carl “Big Daddy” Hairston.
The win advanced the Browns (13-4) to the AFC Championship Game eight days later against the Denver Broncos at Cleveland.
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