5. Red Right 88
All you had to do was kick a field goal. In 1981, with a berth in the AFC Championship on the line, the Browns trailed the Raiders 14-12 and a field goal would end the game. Head coach Sam Rutigliano didn’t have any faith in his kicker, so he went for the touchdown. The play called was “Red Right 88,” and quarterback Brian Sipe as told to throw the ball away if no one was open in the end zone. When the time came about though, Sipe threw the ball up and Oakland intercepted, as Cleveland’s back luck in 80’s playoff games officially began.
4. Tim Couch
Tim Couch was the beginning of the end for the Browns’ return to Cleveland. The Browns took him out of Kentucky with the first overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Hopes were high for the record-setting signal caller from the Bluegrass State, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Over his career, Couch would throw more interceptions (67) than touchdowns (64), and would finish with a career record of 22-37. From that point on, the team would never be the same as the losing culture began to reach the point where they currently stand.
3. The Drive
Up 20-13 in the 1987 AFC Championship, it looked as if the Browns were on their way to their first ever Super Bowl appearance. Only 5:32 remained, and the Denver Broncos were on their own two-yard line as it seemed like the Browns would emerge victorious. But, as all good Cleveland sports stories go, the Browns found a way to blow the game. Elway led Denver on a 98-yard drive to tie the game with 39 seconds left. The Broncos would then win in overtime, as part of their four-straight AFC Championship wins over Cleveland.
2. The Fumble
All he had to do was hold onto the ball. The Browns were down by five with a little over a minute left in the fourth quarter in the AFC Championship in 1988. They were trying to avenge a loss in the same game, to the same team (the Denver Broncos), a year earlier. With the ball in the red zone, Earnest Byner received the ball and looked to be taking the ball to pay dirt, but was stripped at about the one-yard line, just before pay dirt. Denver recovered and would win the game. To me this is worse than The Drive. The Drive was just an incredible series by Elway. The Fumble was just a horrible event set up by horrible ball handling by Byner.
1. Art Modell Moving the Franchise to Baltimore
This move transformed the franchise from one that had a competitive history and a proud tradition, to one that would never seem to recover and would turn into the laughing stock of the league. On November 6, 1995, Modell made the decision to move the Browns to the city of Baltimore, and became the Ravens. It was a shock to Browns fans and it was just so unnecessary. The team did return in ’99, but was never the same, with only one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins since the original move. It also doesn’t help that Baltimore has since won two Super Bowls.