The game after the bye week has not been kind over the years to the Cleveland Browns; their overall record is 13-20. The bye week was first used by the NFL in 1960 and again in 1966 because there was an uneven number of franchises. The schedule was designed so one team would be idle each week. In those two years, the Browns won both their games after the bye week. In 1960, they beat the Cowboys 48-7 and again beat the Cowboys 30-21 in 1966. The league went to a 17-week schedule in 1990 and each team rotated one weekend off. Beginning that season, opening weekend was moved to Labor Day weekend. In 1993, the league experimented with a schedule designed with two bye weeks resulting in an 18-week schedule. Unfortunately, the Browns lost both their after-the-bye-week games, 24-14 to the Dolphins and 24-14 to the Broncos.
When the Browns re-entered the NFL in 1999 as an expansion franchise, the league did them no favors by scheduling the team’s bye week in Week 17. The same was done in 2000. I guess the NFL didn’t think the Browns would be playing for a playoff spot the last weekend of the season.
They were right.
The Browns finished 2-14 in 1999 and 3-13 in 2000. Since 1990, the Browns have had some memorable victories after the bye week. On October 11, 1992, the Browns beat the Steelers, 17-9. The Browns held Pittsburgh to three Gary Anderson field goals. The Browns scored two touchdowns, a one-yard run by RB Kevin Mack and a 47-yard pass from QB Mike Tomczak to WR Michael Jackson. Browns kicker Matt Stover added two field goals. In 1994, during the Browns playoff season, the Browns beat the Oilers 11-8 after the bye week. After a 25-yard touchdown pass from Browns QB Vinny Testaverde to WR Mark Carrier, the Browns completed a two-point play when Tom Tupa ran the ball into the end zone on a fake extra-point attempt. The win improved the Browns record to 5-1, while the Oilers fell to 1-5.
The most recent Browns victory after the bye week came in 2018, QB Baker Mayfield’s rookie season. The Browns won, 35-20. Mayfield was 19 for 26, 258 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. At the time, the four touchdowns were a career-high and a Browns rookie record for touchdown passes in a game. RB Nick Chubb ran for 84 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown. It was the Browns’ first road win since beating Baltimore 33-30 in overtime on October 11, 2015. The Browns jumped to a 28-0 lead before the Bengals scored a touchdown with 33 ticks left in the first half. This game is best remembered for Browns safety Damarious Randall intercepting Bengals QB Andy Dalton and then handing the ball to former Browns head coach Hugh Jackson on the Cincinnati sideline. Here are the highlights.
The most memorable after the bye week win happened on October 5, 2014. The Browns beat the Tennessee Titans 29-28 in the biggest regular-season comeback by a road team in NFL history. Trailing 28-10 at halftime, the Browns scored 19 unanswered points in the second half for the victory. I was at this game and it was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen and I was at the win in New Orleans in 1999. Instead of trying to describe the game, here are the highlights I found on YouTube and a Browns fan added the best background music ever. Also, here’s the link to the full game. When the Browns score to close the gap to 28-22, listen and you’ll hear the Browns fans barking before the commercial break. I recommend you watch it. What a game.
I have no idea how this new coaching staff will handle the game after the bye week. But watching them during the first half of the season, they have been cool and calm. Hopefully, history won’t repeat itself and the Browns will come out firing on all cylinders.