With 6,540 yards in his nine years (1976-84) with the team, Mike Pruitt is the Browns’ third all-time leading rusher.
Considering the franchise has no fewer than four Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs, that’s extraordinary.
And his abilities were on full display against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 3, 1980 in front of 83,224 at Cleveland Stadium, the largest Browns home crowd in eight years, and a national TV audience on Monday Night Football.
Pruitt ran for two touchdowns in a span of about four minutes late in the fourth quarter, including a 56-yarder with 11:25 remaining that provided what proved to be the deciding points, as the Browns won, 27-21.
The fifth-year pro, who would go on to have his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season with 1,034, picked up 129 yards in 27 carries, averaging 4.8 yards a try.
It was the fourth straight victory for the streaking Browns, who improved to 6-3 and remained in a first-place tie with the Houston Oilers in the AFC Central.
The Bears (3-6) suffered their second loss in a row.
The Browns built a 10-0 halftime lead on Don Cockroft’s 23-yard field goal midway through the first quarter and Brian Sipe’s four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Reggie Rucker with 57 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Bears made it 13-7 when Vince Evans, a fine running quarterback, scrambled seven yards for a touchdown with just over a minute left in the third quarter.
When Pruitt bulled one yard for a score with 7:29 remaining in the game, pushing the lead to 20-7, it looked like the Browns were in good shape.
But these were the Kardiac Kids. They didn’t run away from anyone, and no one ran away from them. Rather, their games almost always went down to the wire.
And that’s exactly what happened on this unseasonably warm, windy fall evening as Browns fans buckled their seat belts and got ready for another exciting, rollicking ride.
The Bears closed the gap to 20-14 with 4:45 left when Evans, proving he could throw as well as run, fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brian Baschnagel, a former Ohio Stater.
Pruitt’s 56-yard scoring run on a pitchout around the right side just 1:10 later lengthened the lead to 27-14, but it still wasn’t time to exhale.
Evans then threw his second scoring pass -- a six-yarder to running back Earl Thomas with 37 seconds remaining -- as the Bears crept back to within six points, 27-21.
When special teams ace Judson Flint recovered Bob Thomas’ onside kick at the Cleveland 47, Browns fans could finally breathe easy.
Sipe completed 23 of 39 passes for 298 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions as the Browns rolled up 432 total yards.
Tight end Ozzie Newsome led the Browns with five receptions for 97 yards, while running backs Calvin Hill and Greg Pruitt both had four catches. Rucker and fellow wide receiver Dave Logan each finished with three grabs.
Cornerback Ron Bolton had Cleveland’s interception.
This Day in Browns History is presented by Cleveland Clinic.