History

History: 1980-The Kardiac Kids

Team Photo

If fun, excitement and lasting memories were the lone criteria used to judge the excellence of a Browns season, then 1980 would be the team's most memorable ever, hands down - not even close.

No season before or since has packed as many thrills into its schedule than the one produced by the Kardiac Kids. It was Cleveland's version of the best roller-coaster ride ever, with plenty of very high highs and very low lows.

Fortunately for the Browns, there were many more highs than lows, which is why they went 11-5 and captured the AFC Central title for the first time in nine years.

But more than the record and accomplishments, it was how they were achieved that made the biggest impression. A total of 12 of the Browns' 16 games were decided by seven points or less, with the club posting a 10-2 record in those contests. Seven games were decided by three points or fewer.

All this despite the fact the Browns started 0-2 and then 2-3, after which they finally got rolling by winning eight of their next nine games, including five in a row.

It was a season of the completely unexpected. Week after week, just when it appeared the Browns were dead and had no hope of winning, they'd somehow find a way to pull it out in the end.

For example, they trailed Green Bay 21-13 before coming back for a 26-21 win on a touchdown pass with 16 seconds left.

They trailed the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers 26-14 in the fourth quarter before rallying to win 27-26 by scoring two TDs in less than four minutes.

But along with that, just when it seemed the Browns had the game well in hand, they'd somehow found a way to make it close. And at times, it was too close.

The Browns lost 28-23 at Minnesota on a last-play Hail Mary touchdown pass after leading 23-9 with five minutes left, keeping them from clinching the division title in the next-to-last game of the regular season.

These Browns simply didn't know how to play a boring game.

So it seemed fitting, then, that the two most important contests of the year, the regular-season finale at Cincinnati and the divisional playoff with the Oakland Raiders, went down to the end as well.

Rallying from a 10-0 first-half deficit, the Browns erased the memory of that painful loss to the Vikings and rallied to beat the Bengals 27-24 to finally snare the Central championship. Don Cockroft kicked the game-winning 22-yard field goal with 1:25 left, then the Bengals got as far as the Cleveland 14 before time ran out.

In the excruciating 14-12 loss to the Raiders in what has become known as the Red Right 88, or Ice Bowl, game, the Browns, trailing 14-12, marched to the Oakland 13 in the waning seconds, only to have Brian Sipe's pass into the end zone for Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome - on a play called Red Right 88 - get intercepted.

That was about the only big mistake Sipe made all year. The quarterback was brilliant, throwing for 4,132 yards and 30 touchdowns, with just 14 interceptions, to win the NFL MVP award.

But Sipe, while the heart and soul of head coach Sam Rutigliano's team, had plenty of help. He was able to use a variety of weapons, spreading the ball around to keep defenses guessing.

Five Browns had 50 or more receptions, led by running back Mike Pruitt with 63. Running back Calvin Hill, exceptional as a third-down pass receiver, recorded six TDs among his 27 catches. Wide receiver Ricky Feacher grabbed just 10 passes, but four went for scores, including two within a matter of minutes in the division-clinching win over the Bengals.

And when the Browns needed to move the ball on the ground, they could turn to Pruitt, who went over 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight year with 1,034. He also ran for six TDs.

It was that kind of season, which is why members of the 1980 team are still loved years later by older Browns fans with good memories.

Steve King,
Staff Writer

YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 1-3
at Kansas City Chiefs (38,055) 0-42
Washington Redskins (54,986) 3-12
at Chicago Bears (57,688) 33-31
at Minnesota Vikings (47,262) 16-38
 
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 11 5 0 .688 0 1 0 .000 11 6 0 .647
 
Postseason Results
Divisional Playoff Game
Date Opponent Result Score
01/04 Oakland Raiders Loss 12-14
 
Date Result Opponent Att.
9/7 L 17-34 at New England Patriots 49,222
9/15 L 7-16 Houston Oilers 80,243
9/21 W 20-13 Kansas City Chiefs 63,614
9/28 W 34-27 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 65,540
10/5 L 16-19 Denver Broncos 81,065
10/12 W 27-3 at Seattle Seahawks 61,366
10/19 W 26-21 Green Bay Packers 75,548
10/26 W 27-26 Pittsburgh Steelers 79,095
11/3 W 27-21 Chicago Bears 83,224
11/9 W 28-27 at Baltimore Colts 45,369
11/16 L 13-16 at Pittsburgh Steelers 54,563
11/23 W 31-7 Cincinnati Bengals 79,253
11/30 W 17-14 at Houston Oilers 51,514
12/7 W 17-14 New York Jets 78,454
12/14 L 23-28 at Minnesota Vikings 42,202
12/21 W 27-24 at Cincinnati Bengals 50,058

Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 41 134 84 98 0 --- 357
Opponents 32 69 109 100 0 --- 310

Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 336 340
Rushing 102 105
Passing 207 197
Penalty 27 38
3rd Down: Made/Att 98/207 105/220
3rd Down Pct. 47.30% 47.70%
Total Net Yards 5,588 5,626
Avg. Per Game 349.3 351.6
Total Plays 1,016 1,051
Avg. Per Play 5.5 5.4
Net Yards Rushing 1,673 1,761
Avg. Per Game 104.6 110.1
Total Rushes 436 485
Net Yards Passing 3,915 3,865
Avg. Per Game 244.7 241.6
Sacked/Yards Lost 23/217 31/224
Gross Yards 4,132 4,089
Attempts/Completions 557/338 536/336
Completion Pct. 60.70% 62.70%
Had Intercepted 14 22
Punts/Avg. 66/38.3 63/37.4
Net Punting Avg. 66/34.6 63/34.7
Penalties/Yards Lost 117/1,042 96/766
Fumbles/Ball Lost 24/14 23/10
Touchdowns 45 37
Rushing 15 12
Passing 30 23

Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Cockroft, Don 0 0 0 0 39/44 0 0 16/26 0 87
Pruitt, Mike 6 0 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 36
Hill, Calvin 0 6 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 36
White, Charles 5 1 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 36
Pruitt, Greg 0 5 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 30
Browns 15 30 0 0 39/45 0 0 16/26 0 357
Opponents 12 23 2 0 32/37 0 0 18/29 1 310

Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Pruitt, Mike 249 1,034 4.2 56t 6
White, Charles 86 279 3.2 16 5
Pruitt, Greg 40 117 2.9 19 0
Miller, Cleo 28 139 5 50 3
Sipe, Brian 20 55 2.8 24 1
Browns 436 1,673 3.8 56t 15
Opponents 485 1,761 3.6 32 12

Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Pruitt, Mike 63 471 7.5 28 0
Rucker, Reggie 52 768 14.8 45 4
Logan, Dave 51 822 16.1 65 4
Newsome, Ozzie 51 594 11.6 44 3
Pruitt, Greg 50 444 8.9 43 5
Browns 337 4,132 12.3 65 30
Opponents 336 4,089 12.2 72 23

Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Bolton, Ron 6 62 10.3 29 0
Burrell, Clinton 5 51 10.2 29 0
Darden, Thom 2 42 21 23 0
Jackson, Robert L. 2 15 7.5 9 0
Scott, Clarence 2 14 7 9 0
Browns 22 266 12.1 47 0
Opponents 14 270 19.3 93t 0

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Evans, Johnny 66 2,530 38.3 12 7 56 0
Browns 66 2,530 38.3 12 7 56 0
Opponents 63 2,356 37.4 16 4 62 0

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Wright, Keith 29 4 129 4.4 15 0
Hall, Dino 6 3 41 6.8 14 0
Browns 35 7 170 4.9 15 0
Opponents 38 6 245 6.4 15 0

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Hall, Dino 32 691 21.6 40 0
Wright, Keith 25 576 23 50 0
Miller, Cleo 2 22 11 13 0
White, Charles 1 20 20 20 0
Jackson, Robert E. 1 0 0 0 0
Browns 63 1,308 20.8 50 0
Opponents 71 1,018 14.3 31 0

Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
Cockroft, Don 0/0 6/7 5/7 5/9 0/3 16/26
Browns 0/0 6/7 5/7 5/9 0/3 16/26
Opponents 3/3 7/7 5/11 3/6 0/2 18/29

Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At TD TD% Int Int% LG Tkld Ratng
Sipe, Brian 554 337 4,132 60.8 7.46 30 5.4 14 2.5 65 23/217 91.4
Cockroft, Don 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 39.6
Browns 555 337 4,132 60.7 7.45 30 5.4 14 2.5 65 23/217 91.2
Opponents 480 306 3,746 63.8 7.8 20 4.2 20 4.2 72 31/218 84.3