History

History: 1979


Team Photo

Although 1980 is generally regarded as the Browns' Kardiac Kids season, 1979 is actually the year in which the Kids really began to grow and mature.

The 1979 campaign did not quite have all the success and excitement of 1980, when the Browns finished 11-5 and won the AFC Central title, with 13 of the 16 regular-season games being decided in the final two minutes. However, 1979 did have its moments -- many of them, in fact -- and was a lot of fun, too.

The Browns were 9-7, nearly made the playoffs and were, just like 1980, involved in a number of close games.

They won their first three contests, all by three points, over the New York Jets in overtime 25-22, Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 and Baltimore Colts 13-10.

They lost to the Washington Redskins by four points, 13-9, midway through the season, then beat the Cincinnati Bengals by one, 28-27, the following Sunday and the Philadelphia Eagles by five, 24-19, two weeks later.

The Browns proceeded to lose to the Seattle Seahawks by five points, 29-24, beat the Miami Dolphins by six, 30-24, in overtime and lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers by three, 33-30, again in OT. That was the last of the Browns three overtime games that season.

Then came a virtual "blowout" -- a seven-point victory over the Houston Oilers, 14-7 -- followed by two "one-sided" losses, by five points to the Oakland Raiders, 19-14, and by four to the Bengals, 16-12, to end the year.

Whew! Add it all up, and 12 of the Browns' 16 games were decided by seven points or less. The club went just 7-5 in those games, though, which was the difference in that season from 1980, when the Browns were 10-2 in 12 contests decided by seven points or less.

How tight was the 1979 season overall for the Browns? So much so that they outscored their foes by just seven points all year.

But, in addition to the ones already mentioned, there were other interesting aspects as well to the 1979 season.

The Browns moved to 4-0 -- their fastest start since 1963 -- by stunning heavily-favored Dallas 26-7 on Monday Night Football.

The Browns gave up 51 points at home to the Steelers, who would go on to win their second straight Super Bowl and fourth in six years, yet scored 35 on the vaunted Steel Curtain defense and lost by 16. The game was shown on national TV, but NBC cut away to another contest, leaving only the Pittsburgh and Cleveland markets watching, after the Steelers vaulted to a 27-0 lead.

What NBC missed was one of the great comebacks in Browns history, and an important step in the development of quarterback Brian Sipe, who finished the year with nearly 3,800 yards passing and 28 TDs.

The Browns were also involved in two straight OT games for the first time in club history. It has happened just six times since.

The Browns were Team Streak. As mentioned, they won their first four games, dropped their next three and then captured three in a row. It put them at 7-3 and right in the thick of the playoff chase.

But they went just 2-4 down the stretch, with, not surprisingly, all the games being decided by seven points or less.

What really hurt were those season-ending road losses to the Raiders and Bengals. Both teams were easily beatable. Oakland finished the year at 9-7, just like the Browns, and Cincinnati, which also beat the Browns at Riverfront Stadium in the 1978 season finale, was a dismal 4-12.

The slide caused the Browns to finish just a game behind the Denver Broncos (10-6), who claimed the second - and final - AFC wild-card spot.

Mike Pruitt rushed for 1,294 yards and nine TDs, while wideout Dave Logan led the team in catches with 59 and missed getting 1,000 receiving yards by just 18. Logan, Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome and wide receiver Reggie Rucker combined for 22 TD catches.

The Browns, under second-year head coach Sam Rutigliano, were definitely making strides. He inherited a team that finished just 6-8 in 1977 and got it to 8-8 and 9-7 the next two years.

The best was yet to come, though.

Steve King,
Staff Writer


YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 2-2
at New York Giants (30,905) 7-27
Baltimore Colts (43,056) 24-3
at Detroit Lions (55,623) 10-21
at Washington Redskins (40,039) 21-9
 
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 9 7 0 .563 0 0 0 .000 9 7 0 .563

Date Result Opponent Att.
9/2 W 25-22 at New York Jets (OT) 48,472
9/9 W 27-24 at Kansas City Chiefs 42,181
9/16 W 13-10 Baltimore Colts 73,889
9/24 W 26-7 Dallas Cowboys 80,123
9/30 L 10-31 at Houston Oilers 48,915
10/7 L 35-51 Pittsburgh Steelers 81,260
10/14 L 9/13 Washington Redskins 63,323
10/21 W 28-27 Cincinnati Bengals 75,119
10/28 W 38-20 at St. Louis Cardinals 47,845
11/4 W 24-19 at Philadelphia Eagles 69,019
11/11 L 24-29 Seattle Seahawks 72,440
11/18 W 30-24 Miami Dolphins (OT) 80,374
11/25 L 30-33 at Pittsburgh Steelers (OT) 48,773
12/2 W 14-7 Houston Oilers 69,112
12/9 L 14-19 at Oakland Raiders 52,641
12/16 L 12-16 at Cincinnati Bengals 42,183

Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 91 66 78 115 9 --- 359
Opponents 94 81 60 114 3 --- 352

Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 350 307
Rushing 125 136
Passing 189 158
Penalty 36 13
3rd Down: Made/Att 99/222 105/240
3rd Down Pct. 44.60% 43.80%
Total Net Yards 5,772 5,650
Avg. Per Game 360.8 353.1
Total Plays 1,092 1,076
Avg. Per Play 5.3 5.3
Net Yards Rushing 2,281 2,604
Avg. Per Game 142.6 162.8
Total Rushes 504 577
Net Yards Passing 3,491 3,046
Avg. Per Game 218.2 190.4
Sacked/Yards Lost 43/347 31/243
Gross Yards 3,838 3,289
Attempts/Completions 545/289 468/271
Completion Pct. 53.00% 57.90%
Had Intercepted 27 16
Punts/Avg. 69/41.2 80/41.4
Net Punting Avg. 69/35.8 80/37.1
Penalties/Yards Lost 82/709 118/1,018
Fumbles/Ball Lost 28/17 39/16
Touchdowns 45 42
Rushing 16 25
Passing 28 14

Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Cockroft, Don 0 0 0 0 38/43 0 0 17/29 0 89
Pruitt, Mike 9 2 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 66
Newsome, Ozzie 0 9 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 54
Logan, Dave 0 7 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 42
Rucker, Reggie 0 6 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 36
Browns 16 28 0 1 38/44 0 0 17/29 0 359
Opponents 25 14 3 0 34/42 0 0 22/35 0 352

Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Pruitt, Mike 264 1,294 4.9 77t 9
Pruitt, Greg 62 233 3.8 27 0
Hill, Calvin 53 193 3.6 33 1
Sipe, Brian 45 188 4.2 34 2
Miller, Cleo 39 213 5.5 39t 1
Browns 504 2,291 4.5 77t 16
Opponents 577 2,604 4.5 71t 25

Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Logan, Dave 59 982 16.6 46 7
Newsome, Ozzie 55 781 14.2 74 9
Rucker, Reggie 43 749 17.4 54 6
Pruitt, Mike 41 372 9.1 50t 2
Hill, Calvin 38 381 10 31 2
Browns 289 3,838 13.3 74 28
Opponents 271 3,289 12.1 62 14

Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Darden, Thom 5 125 25 39t 1
Scott, Clarence 3 56 18.7 29 0
Bolton, Ron 3 20 6.7 13 0
Hall, Charlie 2 14 7 11 0
Davis, Oliver 1 33 33 33 0
Browns 16 278 17.4 39t 1
Opponents 27 315 11.7 50 1

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Evans, Johnny 69 2,844 41.2 7 9 59 2
Browns 69 2,844 41.2 7 9 59 2
Opponents 80 3,313 41.4 9 9 61 0

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Hall, Dino 29 5 295 10.2 47 0
Wright, Keith 12 6 50 4.2 13 0
Newsome, Ozzie 0 1 0 0 0 0
Burrell, Clinton 0 2 0 0 0 0
Browns 41 14 345 8.4 47 0
Opponents 45 2 375 8.3 38 0

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Hall, Dino 50 1,014 20.3 33 0
Wright, Keith 15 402 26.8 45 0
Feacher, Ricky 2 51 25.5 27 0
Rich, Randy 2 10 5 6 0
Pruitt, Greg 1 22 22 22 0
Browns 75 1,531 20.4 45 0
Opponents 70 1,324 18.9 51 0

Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
Cockroft, Don 0/0 5/6 8/12 3/8 1/3 17/29
Browns 0/0 5/6 8/12 3/8 1/3 17/29
Opponents 1/2 6/9 9/13 6/11 0/0 22/35

Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At TD TD% Int Int% LG Tkld Ratng
Sipe, Brian 535 286 3,793 53.5 7.09 28 5.2 26 4.9 74 43/347 73.4
Miller, Mark 8 2 31 25 3.88 0 0 1 12.5 17 0/0 3.6
Evans, Johnny 2 1 14 50 7 0 0 0 0 14 0/0 72.9
Browns 545 289 3,838 53 7.04 28 5.1 27 5 74 43/347 72.1
Opponents 468 271 3,289 57.9 7.03 14 3 16 3.4 62 31/243 75.3