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Top Moments: No. 35 - Bernie Kosar makes his NFL debut


To continue our celebration of the franchise's 75th anniversary, we're launching "Browns Countdown: Top 75 Moments" presented by Bridgestone. Over the next month, through videos, articles and more, we'll be highlighting the top 75 moments in Browns history. Our video tributes, which will be available at, the Browns' mobile app and the Browns' official YouTube Channel, will dive deep into the top 20 while our articles will put the spotlight on a number of different moments that are sprinkled throughout the top 75.

We're moving down to No. 35, which highlights the debut of one of the Browns' most storied quarterbacks.

The first snap of Bernie Kosar's NFL career did not go as planned.

As 70,000 fans watched in Cleveland Stadium, Kosar, whom the Browns selected first overall in the 1985 supplemental draft, crouched down, felt the football snap into his hands from the center and … dropped it.

The fumble, which was recovered by the Patriots and led to a field goal, certainly rattled the nerves of Kosar, a Youngstown native and lifelong Browns fan ready to fulfill his childhood dream. He entered the Browns' Week 5 game against the New England Patriots on Oct. 6, 1985, at the end of the first half after starter Gary Danielson exited with an injury.

A botched snap was never how Kosar envisioned his beginning.

"I just dropped it," he said. "Quite honestly, I was looking ahead. I was taking something for granted and thinking about reading the defense."

But the miscue also set the stage to give Cleveland a glimpse of one of the most thrilling quarterbacks in franchise history.

Following the fumble, Kosar completed seven consecutive passes and paced the Browns to a 24-20 comeback win over the Patriots. He finished the game with nine completions on 15 attempts and 104 yards with one interception.

Sure, it wasn't a stat line worthy of any Player of the Week honors, but the Kosar era in Cleveland, one that would be remembered for decades to come, was underway.

Kosar had always wanted to be a quarterback for the Browns. His draft process in getting to Cleveland, however, was among the oddest in NFL history.

At the time, only college seniors and graduates could be drafted in the regular NFL draft or supplemental draft, held in the months following the regular draft. Kosar, the stud quarterback from Miami, was eligible, but he purposely didn't submit his paperwork for the regular draft — he wanted to find a way to get to Cleveland. In the regular draft, he was expected to go second overall to the Minnesota Vikings, who traded with the Houston Oilers for the pick.

But Kosar's refusal to submit himself to the regular draft led to commissioner Pete Rozelle essentially giving Kosar his draft choice. Before Kosar made his selection, he informed Browns general manager Ernie Accorsi and owner Art Modell that he was leaning toward the supplemental draft — which would give the Browns a shot to trade up and select him.

So, the Browns made their move. They traded with the Buffalo Bills for the first overall pick of the supplemental draft, and the Browns took him. He was heading to Cleveland.

"All of a sudden, I graduated real quick, and you're in training camp," Kosar said in a 2019 interview with Jay Crawford. "It's seven weeks of training camp with Marty Schottenheimer and the Cleveland Browns. You're right in the thick of it."

After nine years in Cleveland, Kosar left the Browns with 21,904 passing yards, 116 touchdowns and a Pro Bowl appearance. He's third all-time in passing yards in franchise history and was the pilot for one of Cleveland's most successful eras from 1985-1989, which included five playoff appearances and three trips to the AFC Championship Game.

The whole journey started, however, on that October afternoon against the Patriots. Kosar proved he could rally the Browns to victory after the botched snap, and the rest of his career continued on an upward trajectory.

Earlier this year, the Browns commissioned a panel of historians, alumni and journalists to rank the top 75 moments in Browns history. The group met multiple times to discuss the moments and each member submitted their own final rankings, which were averaged against each other to create the ultimate list.

Building the Top 75 from the bottom up

33. Browns play first regular season game against the Miami Seahawks on Sept 6, 1946. Browns win 44-0.

34. Browns defeat the Indianapolis Colts 38-21 in the 1987 Divisional Playoffs on Jan. 9, 1988

35. Bernie Kosar debuts for the Browns after starter Gary Danielson is injured in a 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots on Oct. 6, 1985.

36. The Browns defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-7 on Oct. 29, 1950, in their first matchup in Cleveland. Marion Motley rushed for 188 yards on 11 carries and set a then-NFL record for highest rushing average in a single game (17.09).

37. Jim Brown breaks Don Hutson's NFL record for most touchdowns (105) in a 35-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 3, 1965.

38. Browns defeat the Paul Brown-led Cincinnati Bengals in their first meeting on Oct 11, 1970. Browns won 30-27.

39. Browns draft Ozzie Newsome and Clay Matthews in 1978 draft.

40. Jim Brown and other Browns and athletes across sports meet in the Cleveland Summit to support Muhammed Ali's refusal to participate in the United States Military Draft on June 4, 1967.

41. Browns defeat the Buffalo Bills 34-30 in the 1989 Divisional Playoffs on Jan. 6, 1990. Clay Matthews intercepts future Hall of Famer Jim Kelly's pass at the goal line with nine seconds remaining.

42. Joe Thomas reaches 10,000 consecutive snaps on Sept. 17, 2017, against the Baltimore Ravens. He amassed 10,363 before retiring after the 2017 season.

43. In what would ultimately be his final regular season game of his career, Jim Brown breaks Lenny Moore's NFL record (20) for most touchdowns in a single season on Dec. 19, 1965.

44. Browns break 19-game winless streak with 21-17 victory, led by rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield over the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football on Sept. 20, 2018.

45. Kevin Stefanski named NFL Coach of the Year as first-year head coach, becoming the second coach in franchise history to receive the honor.

46. Browns defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 51-0 in the 1989 season opener on Sept. 10 the most lopsided result in the 79-game series between the teams at that time.

47. Browns defeat New Orleans Saints 21-16 with miracle "Hail Mary" on Oct. 31, 1999, for the team's first win as an expansion team.

48. Browns hire Romeo Crennel, their first African-American coach, in 2005.

49. Browns orchestrate the greatest road comeback (25 points) in NFL history in a 29-28 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 5, 2014

50. Brian Sipe breaks the Cleveland Browns franchise passing record held previously by Otto Graham (401) by throwing for 444 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-28 win over the Baltimore Colts on Oct. 25, 1981.

51. Browns defeat the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 29, 2002, to clinch playoff berth. William Green broke off a 64-yard run to seal the game away.

52. Baker Mayfield breaks NFL rookie record for most passing touchdowns in as single season (27) on Dec. 30, 2018

53. Jerome Harrison breaks Jim Brown's single game franchise rushing record on Dec. 20, 2009 with 286 yards rushing in a 41-34 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. In the same game Josh Cribbs becomes the second player in NFL history to have two 100-yard kickoff returns in the same game.

54. Browns defeat Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-22, on Jan. 3, 2021, to end NFL's longest playoff drought of 18 years.

55. Browns avenge their first championship game loss to the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 by crushing the Rams in a rematch 37-7 on Oct. 7, 1952.

56. Cleveland Browns draft Joe Thomas on April 28, 2007.

57. Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham is elbowed in the face by a Detroit Lions defender in the first half, and after receiving 15 stitches and a lucite face mask, he comes back in the second half to defeat the Lions, 23-21, on Nov. 15, 1953. Graham's injury helped kickstart the widespread use of facemasks in the NFL.

59. In the first meeting of Jim Brown vs. Johnny Unitas, the Cleveland Browns prevail in a 38-31 shootout against the Baltimore Colts on Nov. 1, 1959. The game also pits Weeb Ewbank against his mentor Paul Brown. Brown rushed for 178 yards and scored five touchdowns while Unitas threw for 397 yards in defeat.

60. Browns clinch a wildcard playoff berth on Dec. 18, 1988, behind backup quarterback Don Strock, who threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-23 victory over the Houston Oilers

61. Blanton Collier replaces Paul Brown as head coach. Collier coached the Browns when they won the 1964 championship.

62. Paul Brown debuts first radio helmet 1956 with QB George Ratterman.

63. Josh Gordon becomes first wide receiver in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard games on Dec. 1, 2013.

64. Nick Chubb breaks the Browns franchise record for longest run by scoring a 92-yard touchdown Nov. 11, 2018, in a 28-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The previous record was held by Bobby Mitchell.

65. Phil Dawson retires from the NFL as a Cleveland Brown. Dawson signed with the Browns in 1999 and kicked for the Browns for 14 years.

66. Browns defeat the Baltimore Ravens for the first time on Oct. 21, 2001.

67. Bobby Mitchell rushes for 232 yards on 14 carries for an incredible 16.6-yard average in a Cleveland Browns 31-17 win against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 15, 1959.

68. Browns' fans create numerous music ballads that are played on Cleveland radio to celebrate the teams resurgence in the late 1980s. Songs include "Oh Bernie Bernie," "Super Bowl Browns" and "Born and Raised on the Browns."

69. Browns defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 21-20, on Dec. 8, 2002 with a 50-yard Hail Mary from Tim Couch to Quincy Morgan with no time left. Couch becomes the only quarterback to have two game-winning passes of 50 yards or more with no time left on the clock.

70. Browns defeat the Buffalo Bills 8-0 in a blizzard and clinch a winning record on Dec. 16, 2007. Phil Dawson kicks two field goals and the Browns record a safety.

71. Browns draft Baker Mayfield 1st overall in 2018.

72. Browns clinch an Eastern Conference title by crushing the New York Giants 52-20 on Dec. 12, 1964.

73. Browns move into first place of the AFC Central Division after defeating the Houston Oilers on Dec. 15, 1985. The Browns would go on to win the AFC Central for the first time since 1980

74. Jeff Garcia and Andre Davis combine to tie the NFL record for the longest pass in NFL history of 99 yards in a Cleveland Browns 34-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 17, 2004.

75. Hanford Dixon intercepts Terry Bradshaw three times in 1982 Browns win over Steelers.

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