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Browns' record-setting win at Tennessee was 'definitely a crazy moment'


In the moments after the Browns' comeback win over the Tennessee Titans, Karlos Dansby called it "history in the making."

Really, though, the history had already been made.

Never before had an NFL team away from its home stadium come back from a 25-point deficit to win. And the Browns did it with 1:09 to spare, as Travis Benjamin hauled in his second touchdown of the fourth quarter to set up Billy Cundiff's go-ahead extra point in the 29-28 stunner at LP Field.

The Browns' comeback is one of five on the ballot for GMC's Never Say Never Moment of the Year. Its competition includes the Cowboys' largest comeback in franchise history in a win against St. Louis, the Packers' late rally against the Dolphins, Kyle Orton's last-second pass to Sammy Watkins in the Bills' win over the Vikings and the Chargers' Philip Rivers-led comeback at Baltimore.

What the victory meant internally paid off in the weeks and months after the Browns left Nashville on an absolute high.

"Everyone just rallying together and getting it done, that was a special feeling," wide receiver Andrew Hawkins said. "That doesn't happen a lot in the NFL."

At the time, Dansby said the Browns would view the game as a turning point. In hindsight, defensive tackle Phil Taylor called it just that.

Instead of a disappointing 1-3 after four games, the Browns were 2-2. They'd go on to win four of their next five to briefly land a spot atop the AFC North and play meaningful December football for the first time in years.

Perhaps what made the victory even more special at the time was because it came just a few weeks after a similar comeback came up three points short at Pittsburgh. The circumstances preceding the rallies, though, were eerily similar. Down 25 instead of 24, the Browns scored a late second-quarter touchdown to narrow the margin to 18 at the half, did it with defense in the third quarter and ignited on offense in the final 15 minutes.

Even after Cleveland came away with no points on a third-quarter drive that stalled at the Titans' 22-yard line, the momentum and good fortune remained on its side. A muffed Benjamin punt return just a few minutes later was negated by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the Browns had the ball as they entered the fourth quarter facing a 28-13 deficit.

"I grabbed him after he came off after the fumbled punt and just said to him, 'hey, just hang in there,'" Pettine said. "If you have a chance to make a play, just make a play."

Tank Carder was the unlikely source of the first in a series of big plays. His punt block out of the end zone for a safety sliced the lead to 13 and gave the ball right back to the offense. On the ensuing drive, Brian Hoyer found Benjamin on a 17-yard touchdown pass to get the Browns within six with close to 7 minutes remaining.

The Browns' first chance at a go-ahead touchdown fell flat when Hoyer threw an interception. Another defensive stand, which included stuffing Tennessee quarterback Charlie Whitehurst on a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak at the Titans' 42-yard line, gave him a shot at redemption with 3:03 to play.

"I think it shows they were afraid for us to get back on the field," Hoyer said. "They didn't want our offense back out there, they wanted to see if they could just finish it right there."

Hoyer was right.

On the second play from scrimmage, Hoyer found Miles Austin for a 17-yard gain. Three plays later, it was Benjamin on a memorable 6-yard touchdown catch.

"I thought I overthrew him when I first threw it," Hoyer said. "But he got up, grabbed it and got his feet down and made a great play."

The Browns walked off winners when the Titans' last gasp possession ended at their own 47-yard line. In exit interviews last week, many players circled the win as their favorite of the season.

It was made even sweeter by the thousands of Browns fans in attendance who filled LP Field and hung around long after to celebrate

"To be in that atmosphere and feel that and have us come back from 28-3, that was definitely a crazy moment for the Cleveland Browns," safety Tashaun Gipson said. "The city of Cleveland as well."

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