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This Day in Browns History - Jan. 6

Posted Jan 6, 2013

In this series, ClevelandBrowns.com looks back to a Browns-Bills playoff game on Jan. 6, 1990.

It was an offensive show -- and then some.

Indeed, the Browns and Buffalo Bills moved up and down the field on Jan. 6, 1990, as if it were a track meet, wowing the Cleveland Stadium crowd of 77,706.

But in the end, it was a defensive play that decided their 1989 AFC divisional playoff game.

Left outside linebacker Clay Matthews intercepted a Jim Kelly pass at the Cleveland 1-yard line with three seconds left to preserve a 34-30 Browns win and propel them to the AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos for the third time in four years.

It was one of the few mistakes that Kelly -- or the Bills' offense -- made all day, He was 28-of-54 passing for 405 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions for an 85.8 passing rating.

But the Browns’ Bernie Kosar was even better, and more efficient, by completing 20 of 29 passes (68.97 percent) for 251 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 130.1 rating. His completion percentage and rating are still franchise playoff records.

The teams combined for a whopping 778 yards of total offense.

The game started with big plays, and things just went from there. Buffalo led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter after Kelly threw a 72-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Andre Reed and Matt Bahr kicked a 45-yard field goal.

But the Browns rallied in the second quarter to go on top, 17-14, at halftime as Kosar threw touchdown passes of 52 yards to wide receiver Webster Slaughter and three yards to back-up tight end Ron Middleton, and Kelly fired a 33-yard score to wide receiver James Lofton.

The Browns moved ahead, 31-21, after three quarters after Kosar found Slaughter again for a touchdown, covering 44 yards, and rookie Eric Metcalf returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score. Buffalo’s points came on Kelly’s six-yard touchdown pass to running back Thurman Thomas.

The teams traded field goals to start the fourth quarter, Scott Norwood hitting from 30 yards and Bahr connecting on another long one of 47 yards.

The Bills also scored on another Kelly-to-Thomas scoring pass, of three yards. However, Norwood missed the extra point, which would prove to be crucial since it made the score 34-30, and forced Buffalo to go for a touchdown on that final drive.

Wide receiver Reggie Langhorne led the Browns in catches with six, for 48 yards, but Slaughter was tops in receiving yards with 114 on just three receptions. Ozzie Newsome added four grabs for 35 yards.

The Browns also had nearly twice as many rushing yards as the Bills, 90 to 49, as Kevin Mack had 12 carries for 62 yards for the second straight game. He had been the hero of the Browns’ playoff-clinching 24-20 win over the Houston Oilers two weeks earlier when he scored on a four-yard run in the closing seconds.

For the Bills, this was the game in which their hurry-up, no-huddle offense was born, helping them to four straight Super Bowls beginning the following season. They went to a quick-passed attack to try to keep up with the Browns’ scoring, and it worked so well that they decided in the offseason to adopt it as their regular scheme.

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