History

Year by Year Results: 1989

When it comes to the Browns' AFC Championship Games against the Denver Broncos, there was The Drive in 1986, The Fumble in 1987 and The ...uh, whatever in 1989.

The last one -- the unnamed one -- is when the Browns fell 37-21 at Mile High Stadium in a game that had virtually none of the drama and suspense of the previous two. The end result was the same, though, as the Browns were denied that elusive first Super Bowl berth for the third time in four years.

This would be the last season of the Browns' great run through the last half of the 1980s. Since then, the Browns have made the playoffs just twice and have never gotten back to the conference title game, so that 16-point loss to Denver - and the 1989 season overall - are still frozen in the memory of many Cleveland fans.

It was a season of ups and downs - way up and way down, for that matter.

The Browns, who would finish 9-6-1 and capture their fourth AFC Central title in five years, started the season with a bang, defeating Pittsburgh 51-0 in the opener to hand the arch rival Steelers their most lopsided loss in club history. What a way for new Browns head coach Bud Carson, a former longtime Steelers assistant, to break in. Talk about making a good first impression.

There was also a 16-13 last-play, regular-season triumph over the Broncos, the Browns' first defeat of Denver since 1974.

The Browns began the year 3-1 and then went to 7-3 after four straight wins. At that point, they appeared to be in great shape.

What followed was a nightmare that nearly cost the Browns a shot at the playoffs. They tied 10-10 in an emotion-charged home game with the Kansas City Chiefs, coached by Marty Schottenheimer, who had been fired as Browns head coach just 11 months before.

Then came a 13-10 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Detroit Lions, who would finish just 7-9. An ugly 21-0 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals, and a 23-17 overtime setback at Indianapolis, rounded out the lost month.

The Browns salvaged their season by defeating NFC Central champion Minnesota 23-17 in OT, and the Houston Oilers 24-20. With that fast finish, especially the victory at the Astrodome, they edged out the Oilers and Steelers (tied at 9-7) for the division crown, but both of those clubs also made the playoffs as wild cards.

Carson, considered a defensive genius, had been brought in by the Browns to get them over the hump and into the Super Bowl. The Browns knew the road to the world title went through Denver, and they thought Carson would be just the man to figure out a way to stop John Elway, the Broncos' Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback who had bedeviled them in the 1986 and '87 conference championship games.

Through the regular season, the addition of Carson's keen mind seemed to be exactly what the Browns needed. Scrapping Schottenheimer's read-and-react 3-4 defensive alignment and implementing an aggressive, go-after-the-passer 4-3 scheme, the Browns were holding most opposing offenses in check. That, coupled with a productive offense led by quarterback Bernie Kosar (18 TD passes and 14 interceptions) and wide receivers Webster Slaughter (team-leading 65 catches and six scores) and Reggie Langhorne (60 catches), added up to a winning formula.

The offense kept chugging in the playoffs, but the defense, made up mostly of aging veterans, began to wear out. The Browns had to hold on for dear life to beat the Buffalo Bills 34-30 in the divisional round before losing in Denver. So in the playoffs, the Browns ended up surrendering 67 points in just two games -- way, way too many.

Disappointed but determined, the Browns came back in 1990 to give it another try, but they finished just 3-13, causing Carson to be fired after nine games. His tenure as head coach -- and the Browns' efforts to get past Elway and the Broncos and make it to the Super Bowl with that group of players -- was over.

Steve King,
Staff Writer

Year Results
Preseason Results
National Football League: 1-4
Philadelphia Eagles at London (73,677) 13-17
at Detroit Lions (44,536) 25-24
Pittsburgh Steelers (71,939) 21-24
at Phoenix Cardinals (36,667) 7-21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (62,486) 10-27
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 9 6 1 .600 1 1 0 .500 10 7 1 .588
Postseason Results
Divisional Playoff Game
Date Opponent Result Score
1/6 Buffalo Bills Win 34-30
Conference Championship Game
Date Opponent Result Score
1/14 at Denver Broncos Loss 37-21
Date Result Opponent Att.
9/10 W51-0 at Pittsburgh Steelers 57,928
9/17 W38-24 New York Jets 73,516
9/25 L14-21 at Cincinnati Bengals 55,996
10/1 W16-13 Denver Broncos 78,637
10/8 L10-13 at Miami Dolphins (OT) 58,444
10/15 L7-17 Pittsburgh Steelers 78,840
10/23 W27-7 Chicago Bears 78,722
10/29 W28-17 Houston Oilers 78,765
11/5 W42-31 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 69,162
11/12 W17-7 at Seattle Seahawks 58,978
11/19 T10-10 Kansas City Chiefs (OT) 77,922
11/23 L10-13 at Detroit Lions 65,624
12/3 L0-21 Cincinnati Bengals 76,236
12/10 L17-23 at Indianapolis Colts (OT) 58,550
12/17 W23-17 Minnesota Vikings (OT) 70,777
12/23 W24-20 at Houston Oilers 58,852
AFC Playoffs
1/6 W34-30 Buffalo Bills 77,706
AFC Championship
1/14 L21-37 at Denver Broncos 76,046
Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 48 112 104 64 6 --- 334
Opponents 34 67 82 62 9 --- 254
Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 285 276
Rushing 101 93
Passing 161 161
Penalty 23 22
3rd Down: Made/Att 82/213 82/230
3rd Down Pct. 38.50% 35.70%
4th Down: Made/Att 1/9 10/16
4th Down Pct. 11.10% 62.50%
Total Net Yards 5,042 4,831
Avg. Per Game 315.1 301.9
Total Plays 1,011 1,031
Avg. Per Play 5 4.7
Net Yards Rushing 1,609 1,670
Avg. Per Game 100.6 104.4
Total Rushes 448 446
Net Yards Passing 3,433 3,161
Avg. Per Game 214.6 197.6
Sacked/Yards Lost 34/192 45/359
Gross Yards 3,625 3,520
Attempts/Completions 529/309 540/269
Completion Pct. 58.40% 49.80%
Had Intercepted 15 27
Punts/Avg. 97/39.4 94/40.4
Net Punting Avg. 97/35.0 94/35.1
Penalties/Yards Lost 128/973 122/985
Fumbles/Ball Lost 23/15 32/11
Touchdowns 41 30
Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Bahr, Matt 0 0 0 0 40/40 0 0 16/24 0 88
Metcalf, Eric 6 4 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 60
Slaughter, Webster 0 6 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 36
Manoa, Tim 3 2 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 30
Tillman, Lawyer 0 2 1 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 18
Browns 14 20 1 6 40/40 0 0 16/24 0 334
Opponents 8 20 2 0 29/29 0 0 15/28 0 254
Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Metcalf, Eric 187 633 3.4 43t 6
Manoa, Tim 87 289 3.3 22 3
Jones, Keith 43 160 3.7 15 1
Redden, Barry 40 180 4.5 38t 1
Mack, Kevin 37 130 3.5 12 1
Browns 448 1,609 3.6 43t 14
Opponents 446 1,670 3.7 39t 8
Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Slaughter, Webster 65 1,236 19 97t 6
Langhorne, Reggie 60 749 12.5 62t 2
Metcalf, Eric 54 397 7.4 68t 4
Newsome, Ozzie 29 324 11.2 31 1
Brennan, Brian 28 289 10.3 38 0
Browns 309 3,625 11.7 97t 20
Opponents 269 3,520 13.1 68 20
Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Wright, Felix 9 91 10.1 27t 1
Gash, Thane 3 65 21.7 36t 2
Johnson, Mike 3 43 14.3 23 0
Minnifield, Frank 3 29 9.7 25 0
Harper, Mark 3 8 2.7 8 0
Browns 27 300 11.1 36t 4
Opponents 15 306 20.4 77 1
Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Wagner, Bryan 97 3,817 39.4 32 6 60 0
Browns 97 3,817 39.4 32 6 60 0
Opponents 94 3,797 40.4 20 8 57 1
Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
McNeil, Gerald 49 15 496 10.1 49 0
Browns 49 15 496 10.1 49 0
Opponents 49 13 418 8.5 27 0
Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Metcalf, Eric 31 718 23.2 49 0
Oliphant, Mike 5 69 13.8 28 0
McNeil, Gerald 4 61 15.3 21 0
Jones, Keith 4 42 10.5 25 0
Braggs, Stephen 2 20 10 18 0
Browns 50 932 18.6 49 0
Opponents 58 1,175 20.3 73 0
Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
Bahr, Matt 0/0 5/5 6/8 4/9 1/2 16/24
Browns 0/0 5/5 6/8 4/9 1/2 16/24
Opponents 0/0 3/3 7/9 4/14 1/2 15/28
Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At th th% Int Int% LG Tkld Rating
Kosar, Bernie 513 303 3,533 59.1 6.89 18 3.5 14 2.7 97t 34/192 80.3
Pagel, Mike 14 5 60 35.7 4.29 1 7.1 1 7.1 18 0/0 43.8
Metcalf, Eric 2 1 32 50 16 1 50 0 0 32t 0/0 135.4
Browns 529 309 3,625 58.4 6.85 20 3.8 15 2.8 97t 34/192 80.1
Opponents 540 269 3,520 49.8 6.52 20 3.7 27 5 68 45/359 62.3