It’s not how a team starts a game that’s important, but how it finishes.
And the Browns finished with a flurry against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 22, 2002 at The Coliseum, putting together one of their greatest comebacks in the expansion era to win their road opener, 31-28, in overtime.
The Browns scored two touchdowns in 2:23 late in the fourth quarter to tie the score, 28-28, then took the opening kickoff in overtime and drove 65 yards in seven plays to set up Phil Dawson's game-winning, 33-yard field goal with 10:51 left.
The Browns improved to 2-1, while the Titans fell to 1-2.
When Steve McNair threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kevin Dyson with 5:11 left in the fourth quarter to push Tennessee’s lead to 28-14, things did not look good for the Browns. Of their two touchdowns, only one was scored by their offense and that had come early in the first quarter.
Undaunted, the Browns got it together offensively, taking the ensuing kickoff and marching 80 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown on Tim Couch’s 12-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Andre Davis with 2:41 remaining to cut the deficit to 28-21. It was the second scoring catch of the game for Davis.
The Browns got the ball right back when Phil Dawson executed a perfect onside kick and Dennis Northcutt recovered at the Tennessee 42.
Then Couch, who was making his first start of the year after missing the first two games with an injury, went to work again. After completing eight of 11 passes for 75 yards on the previous drive, he was five-of-six for 36 yards and another touchdown on an eight-yard pass to wide receiver Northcutt with 18 seconds remaining.
Dawson’s extra point tied the game, 28-28.
Couch and the Browns kept right on rolling offensively in overtime after taking over at their 20.
Jamel White ran six yards on the first play.
Couch, who finished 36-of-50 passing for 326 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, completed back-to-back throws to White and wide receiver Quincy Morgan for nine yards.
Then came the two biggest plays of the drive as White ran 12 yards and Couch passed 31 yards to Davis to put the ball at the Tennessee 22. The Browns were already in range for Dawson, but just to be sure, White ran seven yards in two plays to position the ball for him at 15 and he drilled it through the uprights.
The day started well enough for the Browns, with Couch throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Davis just four minutes into the game.
But the Titans went ahead, 21-7, at halftime with three touchdowns on Eddie George’s two-yard run, McNair’s 12-yard pass to John Simon and Andre Dyson’s 16-yard interception return.
Northcutt scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 74-yard kickoff return in the third quarter to cut the lead to 21-14.
This Day in Browns History is presented by Cleveland Clinic.