Twenty years ago Thursday, the Browns last won a playoff game

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The 1994 NFL wild card round has its own little corner in football lore.

This was the round where the Packers held Lions great Barry Sanders to minus-1 yard on 13 carries in a 16-12 Detroit loss. The round also saw Don Shula win his last playoff game as Miami knocked off Kansas City in Joe Montana’s final NFL appearance. And Minnesota’s Warren Moon would make his final postseason start as the Vikings fell to the underdog Bears.

The ’94 wild card round also featured the one — and only — Browns playoff win in Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach.

On New Year’s Day 1995, the Browns bested New England 20-13 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. In victory, Cleveland picked off the Patriots’ Drew Bledsoe three times. Meanwhile, the Browns’ Vinny Testaverde was sharp, connecting on 20-of-30 passes for 268 yards, including a TD pass to Mark Carrier.

The following week, the Browns fell at Pittsburgh in the divisional round. Since then, the Browns have just one playoff appearance in 17 seasons, and they have no postseason wins.

Of course, the Browns aren’t the only club to have played in the ’94 wild-card round still sitting on a playoff winless streak. The Lions haven’t prevailed in a postseason game since 1991, and the Chiefs haven’t advanced in the playoffs since 1993. (And, as some have pointed out on Twitter, the Bengals haven’t won a postseason game since 1990.)

Detroit, of course, gets a chance to snap its streak on Sunday at Dallas. And Cincinnati can break through with a win at Indianapolis on Sunday. The Chiefs and Browns, meanwhile, are left to look ahead to 2015. Both have some talented top-line players, and both were serious playoff contenders at points this season.

And would they ever like to leave the recent past behind with a playoff win  . . . or four.

30 responses to “Twenty years ago Thursday, the Browns last won a playoff game

  1. Thanks MW for the article. And here I thought the entire media only thought it was the Cowboys who haven’t won a playoff game in the last 20 years!

  2. 1994 was very eventful. No wonder Belichick was quick to move on from Bledsoe, after all he lost to the Browns.
    Even OJ happened in 1994.

  3. Watching the Patriots lose to Belichick and the Browns that day, it seemed apparent, even then, that the student had become the teacher and Belichick had surpassed Parcells

  4. Dear Mr. Van Winkle:

    We just wanted to let you know that you haven’t missed much since you dozed off.


    The Browns, Chiefs and Lions

  5. Yeah, I remember that Packers-Lions game. Every Barry Sanders rush looked like Tecmo Bowl when the defense has the right play called – 11 guys swarm the ball instantly.

    Good times.

  6. “Despite all this, we here wish that our football team had the same level of recent success and structure as the Browns.”

    – Redskins Fans –

  7. To be fair, it’s the same franchise in name only. The ’94-95 Browns became the Ravens in ’96 and won the SB in the 2000 season. The new location, facilities, staff, etc. also contributed to this. But, one of the key cogs in the Ravens success has been Ozzie Newsome who began in the Browns front office in 1991 and became GM in 2002 with the Ravens.

    This Browns franchise – which retains the name – began in 1999 and could really be labeled an expansion franchise that has never won a playoff game.

  8. Life is so strange sometimes, dude coached the browns of all teams (and that in a way are the ravens of today lol) and than created a dynasty in New England of all places. You tell him this back then and even he would laugh and walk away.

  9. If I recall that team went 11-5 which the Browns had not done since the 80’s until present day.

    The media loves to refer to Bill’s time in Cleveland as a failure.

    If that was a failure, what term describes the ensuing 20 years?

  10. How did four teams from the same division make the playoffs that year? (Packers, Lions, Vikings, Bears)

  11. Figured it out. I forgot that back then there were only three divisions, and therefore, three wild cards.

  12. The Browns have never won a playoff game, because that team from 1994 is now the Ravens, and the Browns of today were an expansion team of 1999.

  13. If you haven’t seen NFL Films Cleveland 95, and understand how Belichick and his coaches (Saban, Schwartz, Pioli, Manguna) absolutely turned that program around you are not a real NFL fan.
    The reason they did anything in such a long time was because of Belichick INFACT. Learn about the Browns history before that season and what he did for them.
    Moving the team and the ownership and whatever the owners did had NOTHING to do with BB+co and they eventually split.
    But if you think they would have been better off without him or even seen a playoff you are delusional. He has turned 2 organizations around in his Coaching career.

    But oh, ofcourse we all know the truth:


  14. “If you haven’t seen NFL Films Cleveland 95, and understand how Belichick and his coaches (Saban, Schwartz, Pioli, Manguna) absolutely turned that program around you are not a real NFL fan.
    The reason they did anything in such a long time was because of Belichick INFACT.”

    Waaaaiiit just a minute on the Belichick turnaround. He did a good job but when he took over the franchise in ’91, they were just one year removed from a winning record under Bud Carson.

    And, prior to that, they had three consecutive winning seasons under Schoettenheimer; and five consecutive playoff appearances altogether just a year before Belichick arrived – so it’s not like the Browns were horrific for years before that! Marty had arguably the best team in the AFC in the late 80’s and certainly better than any of BB’s teams at Cleveland. They just had two tough breaks against Denver in the playoffs in consecutive years (the Drive and the Fumble) ’87, ’88 seasons or they’d have been in the SB and though they likely would have lost they would have been more competitive because they had a running game and a more well-rounded team geared more toward the NFC style of play.

    85 – 8-8 – playoffs
    86 – 12-4 – AFC championship
    87 – 10-5 – AFC championship
    88 – 10-6 – playoffs
    89 – 9-6 – AFC championship (Carson)
    90 – 3-13 – Carson
    91 – 6-10 – Belichick era begins.

    Bill went: 6-10, 7-9, 7-9, 11-5, 5-11.

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