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Throwback Thursday: QB Brian Sipe delivers big 1983 win in San Diego


Week 4 of the 1983 NFL season featured two of the NFL's most prolific passers going toe-to-toe at old Jack Murphy Stadium: Cleveland's Brian Sipe against San Diego's Dan Fouts.

The Browns were led by sixth-year head coach Sam Rutigliano and felt strong about their chances of starting the season 3-1, but the Chargers were an intimidating team in the early 1980s and were coming off four straight playoff appearances. Las Vegas had San Diego favored by 6.5 points.

But make no mistake: This game was Sipe vs. Fouts. Even in an era before the quarterback position was put on a pedestal like it is today, Sipe and Fouts were controlling entire football games with their right arms.

Winning the NFL MVP in 1980, Sipe racked up 4,132 passing yards and a franchise record that still stands tall. Fouts, himself, was coming off an MVP season in 1982, averaging 320 yards passing per game, a record that stood until 2011, when Drew Brees finally conquered the mark. 

Because he hailed from San Diego, this game meant the world to Sipe, and he and the Browns came out on fire. After a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ozzie Newsome, Cleveland found themselves up 14-3 in the second quarter on the road.

The Chargers would roar back, something Fouts had a tendency to do. The bearded quarterback connected on two touchdowns with four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Wes Chandler, putting San Diego up 24-21.

With the clock running down, Sipe coolly led the offense down the field in the final moments of the fourth quarter, setting up a Matt Bahr 32-yard game-tying field goal and an overtime period to determine the victor.

Cleveland won the coin toss in overtime and kick returner Dwight Walker broke off a 37-yard return. A few plays later, Sipe delivered the dagger. Second-string tight end Harry Holt broke loose into coverage and soared into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown.

Sipe and the Browns won, 30-24, and finished the season with a 9-7 record.

"We've got ourselves in a (expletive) big hole now," said disgruntled head coach Don Coryell, whose Chargers fell to 1-3.

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