2. Browns 21, Chargers 17, Nov. 13, 1972 at San Diego
Mike Phipps’ 38-yard touchdown pass to Frank Pitts with 41 seconds left gave the Browns this Monday Night Football triumph.
Phipps, who had replaced accomplished but bad-kneed Bill Nelsen one game into the season, hit Pitts in stride in the end zone along the right sideline as the Browns notched their fourth of six straight wins.
Phipps completed 13 of 21 passes for 186 yards, the touchdown and one interception. He also ran one yard for a touchdown and a 7-3 Cleveland halftime lead. Pitts caught five passes for 96 yards and Hall of Fame running back Leroy Kelly gained 67 yards in 17 carries.
The Browns took a 14-10 fourth quarter lead on Ken Brown’s 2-yard touchdown run, but Mike Garrett’s 3-yard scoring scamper put the Chargers ahead, 17-14, with 1:21 left. Cleveland’s 64-yard game-winning drive then took three plays, all Phipps completions.
San Diego fell to 2-6-1 on its way to a 4-9-1 season.
The Browns finished 10-4, one game behind the first-place Steelers in the Central Division, but good enough to earn the AFC’s lone wild card playoff berth. Cleveland lost its playoff game at Miami, 20-14. The Browns led 14-13 in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold off the Dolphins, who went on to win the Super Bowl and complete their famed 17-0 overall season record.
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