1. Browns 16, Broncos 13, Oct. 1, 1989 at Cleveland
Matt Bahr’s 48-yard field goal on the final play gave the Browns the win, a rather emotional one following their 1986 and 1987 conference title losses to Denver and a 30-7 regular season defeat at Denver in 1988. Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak in the series was snapped.
Denver had tied the game, 13-13, on a fourth quarter John Elway touchdown pass. The teams were forced to switch goals early in the fourth quarter because the Broncos, backed up deep in their own territory on the “Dawg Pound” side of the field, had to dodge debris thrown at them by Cleveland fans. The switch allowed Bahr to boot his game-winner with the wind to his back. If sailed over the crossbar with little room to spare.
Bernie Kosar completed 5 of 6 passes for 62 yards during the Browns’ winning drive, which started at the Cleveland 16 after cornerback Frank Minnifield recovered a Denver fumble forced by linebacker Mike Johnson.
Kosar connected with wide receiver Webster Slaughter for a 9-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and Bahr notched field goals of 36 and 48 yards in the second and third quarters, respectively, for a 13-3 Browns lead.
Kosar finished 25-of-38 for 216 yards and led Cleveland in rushing with 33 yards on four carries. Slaughter caught five passes for 67 yards and wide receiver Reggie Langhorne had seven catches for 67 yards. Eric Metcalf returned three punts for 78 yards and three kickoffs for 72 yards.
The Browns defense had four sacks and held Elway to six completions in 19 attempts, though he threw for 198 yards.
Both teams became 3-1. The Browns won the AFC Central with a 9-6-1 record. They then earned a 34-30 home playoff game win over the Buffalo Bills before losing at Denver, 37-21, in the AFC championship game. Denver went 11-5 to win the AFC West. The Broncos edged Pittsburgh 24-23 in a home playoff win before their AFC title win over the Browns, then were routed, 55-10, by the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
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