History

History: 1977


Team Photo

The Browns' 1977 season was really two seasons -- or half-seasons, as it were -- that were opposites of one another.

In the end, unfortunately for the Browns, it was the bad half that won out.

But it wasn't that way in the beginning. Building upon the momentum they had gained in the 9-5 finish of 1976, the Browns shot out of the gate impressively.

In the opener at Cincinnati, they won 13-3, defeating a Bengals team that had gone 10-4 the previous season, the same record as AFC Central champion Pittsburgh.

The next week, on Monday Night Football, the Browns won a thriller, 30-27 in overtime over the New England Patriots, who had posted one of the best records in the NFL in 1976 at 10-4.

One-sided home losses to the Steelers (28-14) and the defending Super Bowl champion Oakland Raiders (26-10) followed, but the Browns picked it again by winning three in a row, the last of which was a 44-7 decision over the Kansas City Chiefs. That 37-point margin of victory was the biggest for the Browns in 17 years -- since the next-to-last game of the 1960 -- and it was also team's highest point total since 1968.

The only negative of the win? That it cost the job of Chiefs head coach Paul Wiggin. A great defensive end for the Browns from 1957-67, he was fired after the game, which dropped Kansas City's record to 1-6.

But the Browns were at the other end of the spectrum after defeating Kansas City. With a 5-2 record, head coach Forrest Gregg's team appeared headed for the playoffs for the first time since 1972.

Three of the next four weeks were nightmarish, however, derailing the Browns completely.

It started with a 10-7 home loss to the Bengals, then the Browns went to Pittsburgh and lost 35-31 when a late rally fell short. Two defeats to division foes by a combined total of just seven points were tough to take.

A 21-7 triumph over the New York Giants followed, offering some hope that the Browns could get it turned around, but then the offense fell apart the next week at Cleveland in a 9-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Browns were only 6-5 and the postseason was all but gone.

And those faint aspirations were completely obliterated in two more losses to middle-of-the-road teams, 37-14 to the San Diego Chargers and 19-15 to the Houston Oilers.

That was not good news for Gregg. Selected the AFC Coach of the Year in 1976, he was fired with one game left.

Defensive coordinator Dick Modzelewski, a key defensive tackle on the Browns' 1964 NFL championship team, took over on an interim basis for the season finale. But not even that helped, as the Browns fell 20-19 to the Seattle Seahawks, in just their second season of existence.

It was -- fittingly -- a hard-to-swallow loss to bring down the curtain on a hard-to-swallow season.

The 6-8 finish, fueled by a 1-6 mark in the second half of the year, was not at all what the Browns had wanted -- or expected -- after that encouraging start.

But there were some positives, one of which was the continued good play of running back Greg Pruitt. He rushed for 1,086 yards, going over the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season.

Cleo Miller put together his second straight solid year, adding 756 yards and a team-high four rushing touchdowns. He also led the team in pass receptions with 41, while Pruitt was next with 37.

Overall, though, the offense, despite some big outputs, just wasn't prolific enough on a consistent basis, negating a pretty good effort by the defense. Six times, the Browns scored only 14 points or less.

Quarterback Brian Sipe, after making big strides in 1976, seemed to regress a bit in '77, throwing just nine TD passes with 14 interceptions.

Wide receiver Reggie Rucker, after leading the team in catches the previous two seasons, had just 36, or 13 less than his 1976 total.

Running back Mike Pruitt, the team's first-round pick in the 1976 NFL Draft, struggled for a second straight year and was having some fumbling problems. His confidence seemed to be at a low ebb.

Rangy Dave Logan, a promising third-round draft choice in 1976, was struggling as well, having just 24 receptions in two seasons while playing tight end, not wide receiver.

A lot of the pieces seemed to be in place for the Browns to become a more consistent winner, but it appeared those pieces needed to be arranged in a different manner for it all to come to fruition.

The club just needed to find someone who could determine the correct formula to use to make it happen.

 


YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 3-3
Washington Redskins (32,554) 14-16
at Minnesota Vikings (45,370) 33-34
St. Louis Cardinals (31,308) 19-10
Chicago Bears (36,598) 14-7
at Green Bay Packers (53,180) 19-14
at Detroit Lions (49,168) 20-24
 
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 6 8 0 .429 0 0 0 .000 6 8 0 .429

Date Result Opponent Att.
9/18 W 13-3 at Cincinnati Bengals 52,847
9/26 W 30-27 New England Patriots (OT) 76,418
10/2 L 14-28 Pittsburgh Steelers 80,588
10/9 L 10-26 Oakland Raiders 80,236
10/16 W 24-23 at Houston Oilers 47,888
10/23 W 27-16 at Buffalo Bills 60,905
10/30 W 44-7 Kansas City Chiefs 60,381
11/6 L 7-10 Cincinnati Bengals 81,932
11/13 L 31-35 at Pittsburgh Steelers 47,055
11/20 W 21-7 at New York Giants 72,576
11/27 L 0-9 Los Angeles Rams 70,352
12/4 L 14-37 at San Diego Chargers 37,312
12/11 L 15-19 Houston Oilers 30,898
12/18 L 19-20 at Seattle Seahawks 61,583

Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 63 77 40 86 3 --- 269
Opponents 68 100 38 61 0 --- 267

Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 271 261
Rushing 119 113
Passing 119 116
Penalty 33 32
3rd Down: Made/Att 76/188 74/186
3rd Down Pct. 40.40% 39.80%
Total Net Yards 4,375 4,115
Avg. Per Game 312.5 293.9
Total Plays 911 889
Avg. Per Play 4.8 4.6
Net Yards Rushing 2,200 2,098
Avg. Per Game 157.1 149.9
Total Rushes 510 524
Net Yards Passing 2,175 2,017
Avg. Per Game 155.4 144.1
Sacked/Yards Lost 24/199 27/281
Gross Yards 2,374 2,298
Attempts/Completions 377/208 340/184
Completion Pct. 55.20% 54.10%
Had Intercepted 31 23
Punts/Avg. 62/39.0 70/37.7
Net Punting Avg. 62/30.0 70/33.1
Penalties/Yards Lost 125/1,046 117/979
Fumbles/Ball Lost 34/22 32/16
Touchdowns 31 32
Rushing 9 14
Passing 19 15
Returns 3 3
Avg. Time Of Possession 30:13:00 29:47:00

Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Cockroft, Don 0 0 0 0 30/31 0 0 17/23 0 81
Miller, Cleo 4 1 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 30
Parris, Gary 0 5 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 30
Poole, Larry 1 3 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 24
Pruitt, Greg 3 1 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 24
Browns 9 19 0 3 30/31 0 0 17/23 1 269
Opponents 14 15 3 0 27/32 0 0 16/22 0 267

Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Pruitt, Greg 236 1,086 4.6 78t 3
Miller, Cleo 163 756 4.6 38 4
Pruitt, Mike 47 205 4.4 21 1
Poole, Larry 38 118 3.1 12t 1
Sipe, Brian 10 14 1.4 9 0
Browns 510 2,200 4.3 78t 9
Opponents 524 2,098 4 41 14

Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Miller, Cleo 41 291 7.1 28 1
Pruitt, Greg 37 471 12.7 60 1
Rucker, Reggie 36 565 15.7 40 2
Parris, Gary 21 213 10.1 26t 5
Logan, Dave 19 284 14.9 42 1
Browns 208 2,374 11.4 60 19
Opponents 184 2,298 12.5 67t 14

Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Darden, Thom 6 107 17.8 49 1
Irons, Gerald 3 99 33 53t 1
Scott, Clarence 3 72 24 49t 1
Davis, Oliver 3 71 23.7 32 0
Bolton, Ron 3 50 16.7 43 0
Browns 23 430 18.7 53t 3
Opponents 31 343 11.1 53 0

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Coleman, Greg 61 2,389 39.2 21 2 58 0
Cockroft, Don 1 30 30 0 1 30 0
Browns 62 2,419 39 21 3 58 0
Opponents 70 2,641 37.7 16 5 67 0

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Woolsey, Rolly 32 3 290 9.1 44 0
Payton, Edward 3 0 17 5.7 16 0
Feacher, Ricky 2 0 15 7.5 15 0
Craig, Reggie 1 0 0 0 0 0
Browns 38 3 322 8.5 44 0
Opponents 31 1 558 18 91t 3

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Duncan, Brian 15 298 19.9 36 0
Feacher, Ricky 11 219 19.9 26 0
Williams, Lawrence 8 199 24.9 32 0
Pruitt, Mike 6 131 21.8 31 0
Ellis, Ken 5 80 16 30 0
Browns 53 1,075 20.3 36 0
Opponents 50 986 19.7 45 0

Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
Cockroft, Don 0/0 6/6 6/8 5/9 0/0 17/23
Browns 0/0 6/6 6/8 5/6 0/0 17/23
Opponents 1/1 6/6 7/9 2/5 0/1 16/22

Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At TD TD% Int Int% LG Tkld Ratng
Sipe, Brian 195 112 1,233 57.4 6.32 9 4.6 14 7.2 52t 16/114 61.8
Mays, Dave 121 67 797 55.4 6.59 6 5 10 8.3 60 6/67 57.8
Luck, Terry 50 25 316 50 6.32 1 2 7 14 33 1/8 37.2
Pruitt, Greg 9 4 28 44.4 3.11 3 33.3 0 0 13 1/10 91.7
Logan, Dave 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 39.6
Browns 377 208 2,374 55.2 6.3 19 5 31 8.2 60 24/199 56.8
Opponents 340 184 2,298 54.1 6.76 15 4.4 23 6.8 67t 31/281 61.9