Cleveland Browns Legend Eric Metcalf had two signature moments only 13 months apart during his six seasons (1989-94) with the team.
The one that all Browns fans remember occurred on Oct. 24, 1993, when he had two long punt returns for touchdowns, covering 75 and 90 yards, in a wildly exciting, 28-23, come-from-behind victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Stadium. It was the first time in NFL history that a player had returned two punts for scores of 75 yards and longer in the same game.
But maybe even more prolific was Metcalf’s performance Sept. 20, 1992, in front of 48,102 fans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He scored all four of the Browns’ touchdowns -- three on pass receptions and the other on a run -- in a 28-16 win over the Los Angeles Raiders.
It marked the first time that a Brown had had four TDs in a game in 24 years, since Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Leroy Kelly against the New York Giants in 1968.
The three TD catches tied a team record, last accomplished by another well-known running back, Calvin Hill, 14 years earlier, in 1978.
Overall, Metcalf, who ended up tying for the team lead on the year with 47 receptions, had five catches on the day for 177 yards, which is tied for the fifth-most in Browns history.
Metcalf was nothing short of brilliant. He was making Raiders miss all afternoon. And the Raiders were no slouches. Although they would finish that season with a 7-9 record, and the loss to Cleveland would drop them to 0-3, they were in the midst of a four-year stretch in which they made the playoffs three times.
Metcalf had two short scores -- on a four-yard pass from Todd Philcox and on a six-yard run -- in the first quarter to give the Browns a 14-0 lead.
Then, after the Raiders closed to within 14-13 with 3:23 left in the third quarter on two field goals by former Brown Jeff Jaeger of 27 and 30 yards, and Todd Marinovich’s 25-yard pass to speedy wide receiver Willie Gault, Metcalf scored just 21 seconds later on a 69-yard pass from Philcox.
Metcalf and Philcox teamed up again on a long TD pass, this one of 63 yards, with 11:41 remaining in the game to push the lead back up to 15 points, 28-13, and give the Browns some breathing room.
Jaeger hit his third field goal with just 2:11 left, a 43-yarder, but it didn’t really mean anything, for the damage had already been done by Metcalf.
Philcox, in going 10-of-20 passing for 200 yards and the three TDs, with no interceptions, did a good job in filling in for Bernie Kosar, who had fractured his ankle six days before in a 27-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
But as it turned out, Philcox was also placed onto the injury list after the game with a fractured right thumb suffered when he jammed it against the helmet of Raiders linebacker Aundray Bruce in the first half. Though Philcox was able to finish the game, he missed the next eight weeks, causing the Browns to go to their third starting quarterback in as many contests, ex-Ohio Stater Mike Tomczak.
Marinovich’s thumb was OK after the game, but his arm might have been sore. He attempted 59 passes, the most ever against the Browns, completing 33 for 395 yards and the TD.
But he otherwise had a rough day against the Browns, being intercepted three times -- two by safety Vince Newsome, who later became a scout for Cleveland, and one by linebacker Clay Matthews -- and getting sacked six times for 41 yards in losses. Matthews, fellow linebackers David Brandon and Richard Brown, and defensive linemen Rob Burnett, James Jones and Bill Johnson, each had a sack.
Every victory in the NFL is big, but this one was especially significant because it jump-started the Browns. They entered the day at 0-2 after also having lost their opener to the Indianapolis Colts, 14-3. Five weeks later, they had climbed over the .500 mark to 4-3 on the way to a 7-9 finish.
In addition, it was the second consecutive win over the Raiders, who had defeated the Browns in 10 of the first 11 meetings, including twice in the playoffs.