History

Year by Year Results: 1986
Team Photo

Other than the Kardiac Kids of six years before, the 1986 Browns might be the most exciting and entertaining team in franchise history.

Not only was the club good, but it also played a number of thrilling games that kept fans right on the edge of their seats to the very end.

All this after five straight years during which the Browns had some success, but didn't play a consistently exciting brand of football.

The best of those seasons was 1985, when the Browns, riding 1,000-yard rushing performances from both Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner, won the AFC Central after finishing just 8-8. Then they nearly upset the Miami Dolphins in the divisional playoffs, losing 24-21 after leading 21-3 in the third quarter.

Heading into 1986, the defense was there, and so was the running game, obviously. But what the Browns lacked was a sophisticated passing attack that suited the talents of Bernie Kosar, a native of the Youngstown, Ohio suburb of Boardman Township who had finagled his way to the team he followed while growing up, by going through the '85 NFL Supplemental Draft.

Kosar had played well as a rookie in 1985, but there was potential for him to do so much more. Thus, Lindy Infante was brought in as offensive coordinator in the ensuing offseason, and the attack really started chugging along, scoring 390 points, or an average of 24.4 per game.

The Browns finished 12-4 to not only win the division again, but also set a franchise record for regular-season victories in the NFL in addition to securing home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

In one of the most pulsating games in club history, the Browns edged the New York Jets 23-20 in double-overtime in the divisional playoffs. Then, in maybe the most disappointing contest in team annals, the Browns lost to the Denver Broncos by that same score in OT in the AFC Championship Game as quarterback John Elway orchestrated what has become known as The Drive.

Those games are symbolic of the ones in the 1986 regular season, for the Browns were involved in six contests decided by three points or less, and eight decided by six points or less. There were two OT games - in consecutive weeks, no less -- when the Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-31 and the Houston Oilers 13-10, both in Cleveland.

That started the Browns on a five-game winning streak to end the season, and it was also part of a stretch in which they won eight of nine contests.

There were several other big games in addition to the two OT affairs. The Browns beat the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium for the first time in 16 tries, 27-24. They defeated Miami 26-16 on Monday Night Football, extracting some revenge for their loss to the Dolphins in the divisional playoffs the year before.

And they clinched the Central crown by going to Cincinnati in the next-to-last game and winning soundly, 34-3. The Bengals finished in second place at 10-6 but did not make the playoffs.

Kosar's career really took off in 1986, as he threw for 3,854 yards and 17 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions for an 83.8 quarterback rating. Wide receiver Brian Brennan, who led the way with 55 receptions and six scores, was one of seven Browns to catch 28 or more passes.

Mack and Byner battled injuries for much of the year. That, along with the increased emphasis on passing, caused the rushing numbers to go way down. As a team, the Browns got just 1,650 yards, with Mack rushing for a team-leading 665. He did, however, run for 10 scores.

Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield were among the top cornerbacks in the league, leading a defense that excelled down the stretch, limiting the last four opponents to 17 or fewer points.

If only the Browns could have held the Broncos to under 17 points as well, then they would have gone to the Super Bowl.

Steve King,
Staff Writer

Year Results
Preseason Results
National Football League: 4-0
Buffalo Bills (58,982) 19-17
at Miami Dolphins (50,815) 17-10
at Atlanta Falcons (33,637) 27-21
at Los Angeles Raiders (57,780) 25-22
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 12 4 0 .750 1 1 0 .500 13 5 0 .722
Postseason Results
Divisional Playoff Game
Date Opponent Result Score
01/03 New York Jets Win 23-20 (2OT)
Conference Championship Game
Date Opponent Result Score
1/11 Denver Broncos Loss 20-23 (OT)
Date Result Opponent Att.
9/7 L 31-41 at Chicago Bears 66,030
9/14 W 23-20 at Houston Oilers 46,049
9/18 L 13-30 Cincinnati Bengals 78,779
9/28 W 24-21 Detroit Lions 72,029
10/5 W 27-24 at Pittsburgh Steelers 57,327
10/12 W 20-7 Kansas City Chiefs 71,278
10/19 L 14-17 Green Bay Packers 76,438
10/26 W 23-20 at Minnesota Vikings 59,133
11/2 W 24-9 at Indianapolis Colts 57,962
11/10 W 26-16 Miami Dolphins 77,949
11/16 L 14-27 at Los Angeles Raiders 65,461
11/23 W 37-31 Pittsburgh Steelers (OT) 76,452
11/30 W 13-10 Houston Oilers (OT) 62,309
12/7 W 21-17 at Buffalo Bills 42,213
12/14 W 34-3 at Cincinnati Bengals 58,062
12/21 W 47-17 San Diego Chargers 68,505
AFC Playoffs
1/3 W 23-20 New York Jets (2OT) 78,106
AFC Championship
1/11 L 20-23 Denver Broncos (OT) 79,915
Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 82 102 112 86 9 --- 391
Opponents 54 98 62 96 0 --- 310
Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 292 312
Rushing 101 114
Passing 165 181
Penalty 26 17
3rd Down: Made/Att 85/222 80/215
3rd Down Pct. 38.30% 37.20%
4th Down: Made/Att 14-Jul 18-Oct
4th Down Pct. 50.00% 55.60%
Total Net Yards 5,395 5,269
Avg. Per Game 337.2 329.3
Total Plays 1,049 1,033
Avg. Per Play 5.1 5.1
Net Yards Rushing 1,650 1,982
Avg. Per Game 103.1 123.9
Total Rushes 471 494
Net Yards Passing 3,744 3,287
Avg. Per Game 234 205.4
Sacked/Yards Lost 39/274 35/259
Gross Yards 4,018 3,546
Attempts/Completions 538/315 518/291
Completion Pct. 58.60% 56.20%
Had Intercepted 11 18
Punts/Avg. 83/41.2 79/38.4
Net Punting Avg. 83/38.0 79/34.0
Penalties/Yards Lost 99/759 104/807
Fumbles/Ball Lost 33/13 34/18
Touchdowns 45 36
Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Bahr, Matt 0 0 0 0 30/30 0 0 20/26 0 90
Mack, Kevin 10 0 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 60
Brennan, Brian 0 6 0 1 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 42
Dickey, Curtis 6 0 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 36
Moseley, Mark 0 0 0 0 13/14 0 0 6/7 0 31
Browns 20 18 4 3 43/44 0 0 26/33 0 391
Opponents 13 21 2 0 34/36 0 0 20/29 0 310
Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Mack, Kevin 174 665 3.8 20 10
Dickey, Curtis 135 523 3.9 47 6
Byner, Earnest 94 277 2.9 37 2
Fontenot, Herman 25 105 4.2 16 1
Kosar, Bernie 24 19 0.8 17 0
Browns 470 1,650 3.5 47 20
Opponents 494 1,982 4 53 13
Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Brennan, Brian 55 838 15.2 57t 6
Fontenot, Herman 47 559 11.9 72t 1
Slaughter, Webster 40 577 14.4 47t 4
Langhorne, Reggie 39 678 17.4 66 1
Newsome, Ozzie 39 417 10.7 31 3
Browns 315 4,018 12.8 72t 18
Opponents 291 3,546 12.2 75t 21
Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Dixon, Hanford 5 35 7 19 0
Wright, Felix 3 33 11 33 0
Minnifield, Frank 3 20 6.7 20 0
Rockins, Chris 2 41 20.5 24 0
Ellis, Ray 2 12 6 7 0
Browns 18 184 10.2 33 0
Opponents 11 135 12.3 58t 1
Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Gossett, Jeff 81 3,261 40.3 18 8 64 0
Browns 81 3,261 40.3 18 8 64 0
Opponents 91 3,842 42.2 22 16 64 0
Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Weathers, Clarence 28 4 218 7.8 16 0
Brennan, Brian 19 4 153 8.1 37t 1
Browns 47 8 371 7.9 37t 1
Opponents 36 14 304 8.4 38 0
Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Young, Glen 35 898 25.7 63 0
Fontenot, Herman 8 215 26.9 81 0
Langhorne, Reggie 3 46 15.3 19 0
Green, Boyce 2 20 10 13 0
Puzzuoli, Dave 2 8 4 8 0
Browns 53 1,217 23 81 0
Opponents 51 884 17.3 37 0
Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
Bahr, Matt 1/1 2/2 3/5 0/1 0/1 14/18
Browns 1/1 2/2 3/5 0/1 0/1 14/18
Opponents 0/0 5/6 2/5 2/4 2/4 19/29
Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At TD TD% Int Int% LG Tkld Ratng
Kosar, Bernie 248 124 1,578 50 6.36 8 3.2 7 2.8 68t 19/121 69.3
Danielson, Gary 163 97 1,274 59.5 7.82 8 4.9 6 3.7 72t 17/128 85.3
Brennan, Brian 1 1 33 100 33 1 100 0 0 33t 0/0 158.3
Fontenot, Herman 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 39.6
Gossett, Jeff 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 39.6
Browns 538 315 4,018 58.6 7.47 18 3.3 11 2 72t 39/274 84.6
Opponents 518 291 3,546 56.2 6.85 21 4.1 18 3.5 75t 35/259 76.5