Believe it or not, you won’t be watching the worst game in Cleveland Browns history today when the team hits the road to face the Detroit Lions.
No, sports fans, that game comes later in the year when the Oakland Raiders visit town.
But you can certainly place today’s game in the Top 5 of worst Browns matchups of all time, and that’s without even knowing the outcome. A scientific study conducted by a crack panel of GHCS researchers has determined that today’s game at Ford Field indeed reeks, errr, ranks among the most horrible endurance tests Browns fans have ever faced. We’ve looked at the combined records of each team in all Browns matchups throughout history. We discarded games early in the season, which means the 0-4 vs. 0-4 Browns/Bengals matchup of 1999 and the pathetic 6-3 Browns win over the Bills earlier this year did not make the list.
The 1-8 Browns against the 1-8 Lions. Not only are the Browns just completely awful, they can’t score. Watching them try to creep downfield using a bundle of screen passes and 3-yard outs is like watching folks in a nursing home shuffle down the hall to lunch using their walkers. At least those people get somewhere eventually. The Browns just get to punt over and over again. That is, if one of Brady Quinn’s or Derek Anderson’s passes doesn’t bounce off another Brown and into the hands of a defender. The Browns’ 78 points through nine games have them on pace for the lowest total in NFL history. Meanwhile the Lions have won just one of their last 26 games. That one wasn’t even against the Browns. (Or the Bills, the only team the Browns have beaten since the middle of last season. No wonder they just fired their coach.) At least the Lions can score a little bit, as they average 15.9 points per game. That’s better than six other teams. Their worst-in-the-league defense usually does them in. Teams score nearly 30 points a game against the Lions. You’d think even the Browns could get a touchdown or two in Detroit today.
Yea, you’d think.
You’re better off just thinking you’re about to watch one of the worst games in Cleveland Browns history … even though the actual worst one is coming as a Christmas present. When the Raiders visit on Dec. 27 they could be 2-12 and the Browns could be 1-13. And even if they aren’t, they should be. If the Browns don’t win today there’s no one between now and then that they should beat. Same with the Raiders.
So let’s find out just where today’s matchup ranks in Browns history against their biggest dog games of all time. Here’s the worst matchups in Browns history, with each team’s record heading into the game and the teams’ combined winning percentage:
7. 2008: BENGALS 14, BROWNS 0
Combined winning percentage: .232
And to think, this game was played less than a year ago. All the promise from 2007 had been thoroughly dashed as the Browns had played four straight games without an offensive touchdown. This became the fifth. There was no end in sight, as this year attests.
Poor Jamal Lewis actually called 2008 his, “worst season ever” after the game. You can call him anything you want, but don’t call him a psychic. He obviously had no idea what lay ahead. Quarterbacks in this game: Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski for the Browns (four combined interceptions), Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Bengals. You won’t see Fatheads of them on anyone’s bedroom wall.
6.1999: BENGALS 44, BROWNS 28
Combined winning percentage: .222
Hey, look, the Browns and Bengals stink in Week 15 again! Well, no one could be too upset about any bad matchups in 1999. At least the Browns were back in town. If we knew what we were in for the next 10 years we might not have been so excited.
Some words used by Browns players to describe this game after Corey Dillon ran for 168 yards, the second-highest total in the NFL to that point of the season: “ridiculous” (defensive end Derrick Alexander), “embarrasment” (linebacker Wali Ranier), “ugly” (safety Corey Fuller), and “poor” (linebacker Jamir Miller).
Ten years later and we’re still using the same words after every Browns game.
5. 2004: DOLPHINS 10, BROWNS 7
Combined winning percentage: .214
This might not have been the worst matchup by combined winning percentage of all Browns games, but it could very well be a nominee for worst Browns game ever played.
On ESPN’s Sunday Night Football these teams bored the hell out of everyone watching for three hours before Olindo Mare kicked a 51-yard field goal with seven seconds left to win it. It tied the Browns’ longest single-season losing streak in history at nine. One “highlight” — Lee Suggs carried a franchise-high 38 times, beating out Jim Brown’s record by one. Seriously, Lee Suggs has a record over Jim Brown? Here’s someone who didn’t set any records — Browns quarterback Luke McCown. Yes, this guy actually played quarterback for awhile for the Browns.
In typical Browns fashion they couldn’t even take advantage of the loss. The Browns won the next week while the Dolphins lost, giving Miami the second pick of the draft and pushing the Browns to third. The Dolphins took Ronnie Brown while the Browns took Braylon Edwards. But at least the Browns took Charlie Frye in round three!
4. 1990: BROWNS 13, FALCONS 10
Combined winning percentage: .192
A completely unmemorable game. The Falcons used Scott Campbell and Hugh Millen to play quarterback. The Browns countered with the broken-down remnants of the late-1980s teams. Bernie Kosar, Frank Minnifield, Michael Dean Perry, Reggie Langhorne, Kevin Mack, Ozzie Newsome, Clay Matthews, and Webster Slaughter. But the calendar had turned on that group as the Browns neared their worst record in franchise history up to that time.
3. 1975: BROWNS 17, SAINTS 16
Combined winning percentage: .150
No one was very excited about this game to begin with. Only 44,753 showed up in old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. It lived up to the nonhype by the Browns winning thanks to a missed extra-point thanks to a poor center snap.
At least there was promise for the future as Brian Sipe, Reggie Rucker, and Greg Pruitt were all on the team. Mike Phipps played quarterback over Sipe in this game, but that trio helped lead the Browns to a winning season in 1976. Rest assured that no such turnaround lies ahead for this year’s Browns.
2. 2009: BROWNS @ LIONS
Combined winning percentage: .111
Here it is! Today’s matchup — second-worst all time based on winning percentage of any Browns game. It’s going to hold on to this spot as well even if neither the Browns nor Raiders win a game before their Week 16 matchup two days after Christmas. If the Browns are 1-13 in that game and the Raiders are 2-12, their combined winning percentage will be .115. That game cannot pass this game for worst matchup. It will pass this one for worst game, which is an entirely different story.
Just feel fortunate for all those who live in Northwest Ohio or within 60 miles of Detroit. The game will be blacked out and they can watch the Indianapolis Colts play the Baltimore Ravens.
1. 1999: BROWNS 21, SAINTS 16
combined winning percentage: .077
And here it is, the worst Cleveland Browns matchup of all time. Congratulations to the Saints, who tie the Bengals by making it onto this list twice.
It’s fitting that the Browns would win their worst matchup of all time. This is the one where Tim Couch hit Kevin Johnson with a Hail Mary pass on the last play, giving the new Cleveland Browns their first victory.
The excitement has sure carried over for the next decade, hasn’t it?