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On This Date in Sports: October 29, 1995: Brown Out

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime 29-26 at Riverfront Stadium. Down ten, late in the fourth quarter, the Bengals rallied to tie the game with the help of an on-side-kick. The Browns winning score was set up by a Jeff Hill interception, as Matt Stover won the game with a 28-yard field goal. The Browns would announce a move to Baltimore a week later and won just one game the rest of the season, finishing at 5-11. 

It was Bill Belichick’s fifth season at the helm, and the Cleveland Browns appeared to be a team on the rise. They reached the playoffs in 1994 and beat the New England Patriots in the Wild Card Game. The Browns started the 1995 season strong, winning three of their first four games. However, the Browns stumbled in October, losing three straight games, including a 23-15 loss to the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars at home. That loss dropped the Browns to 3-4, as Vinny Testaverde was benched in favor of Eric Zeier. 

Coming off a dreadful 3-13 season, the Cincinnati Bengals won their first two games against the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars. However, after a four-game losing streak, Cincinnati came out of their bye week strong, upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers and held a 3-4 record as they prepared to host the Browns in the first of two games to decide bragging rights in the Buckeye State.

 

The Bengals got the ball first and drove down the field with Jeff Blake connecting with Harold Green on a one-yard touchdown pass. However, the PAT failed, leaving the score at 6-0. The Browns got a 44-yard field goal by Matt Stover on their first drive. Stover added a second field goal to tie the game early in the second quarter. Doug Pelfrey nailed a 37-yard field goal for the Bengals, while Stover added a third field goal just before the half to the game, 9-9. 

The Browns received the kick after halftime, with Matt Stover hitting a 38-yard field goal to give Cleveland a 12-9 lead. Meanwhile, the Bengals got a touchdown to reclaim the lead, as Jeff Blake dumped a pass to Eric Bienienmy that went 32 yards. Blake later connected with Carl Pickens on an eight-yard touchdown pass to give the Bengals a 16-12 lead.  In the fourth quarter, Eric Zeier connected with Andre Risen on a 17-yard touchdown pass that put the Browns back in front 19-16. 

The Browns appeared to put the game away when Ernest Byner scored from the three to give Cleveland a 26-16 lead with three minutes left in the game. Byner's touchdown was set up by a muffed punt from Corey Sawyer. The Browns knocked Jeff Blake out of the game when he suffered a seven-yard loss on a sack by Rob Burnett. David Klinger came in and hit a big first down pass to Bienienmy. The Bengals would work their way down the field, Pelfrey kicked a 41- yard field goal. After recovering an on-side-kick with just over one minute left, the Bengals were helped by two pass interference penalties. Eventually, Carl Pickens caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Klinger to force overtime.

The Browns won the coin toss, as neither team did anything the first time they touched the ball in sudden death. After the Browns failed to move the ball again, Dana Hall intercepted Jeff Blake, who returned to the game. The Browns would take full advantage as Matt Stover won the game 29-26 with a 28-yard field goal.   

With the win, the Browns improved to 4-4. However, a week later as they prepared for a game against the Houston Oilers, word of a move to Baltimore leaked out. The Browns lost 37-0 as their season spiraled out of control with six straight losses. The Browns beat the Bengals a second time in the final game at Municipal Stadium but lost to the Jaguars to end the season at 5-11. The Browns were the first team to lose to an expansion team twice in the same season. The Bengals meanwhile finished at 7-9.