When the final whistle sounded to finalize the Browns’ 32-23 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, the Dawgs improved their record to 4-1. It’s been a while since the last time Cleveland attained that mark. Milk cost a nickel, Martin Van Buren was president of these several United States and the aeroplane was just a pipe dream.
Okay, it has not been that long, but it has been 26 years since the Browns were 4-1.
The 1994 Cleveland Browns were a very good team. They started the season 6-1 and finished with a record of 11-5. That was good for second place in the then-AFC Central Division and a spot in the Wildcard, where they defeated the New England Patriots, 20-13. Sadly, their season ended the next weekend as they fell to the hated Steelers, 29-9, in the Divisional Round. Head coach Bill Belichick led the charge in what turned out to be the second-to-last season for the original Browns.
Starting quarterback Vinny Testaverde had a poor season finishing 22nd in QB Rating (70.7) while the team finished with the 11th-ranked offense in the league. He was joined in the backfield by Pro Bowlers running back Leroy Hoard who led the team with 1,335 yards from scrimmage and nine total touchdowns and RB-WR Eric Metcalf, who added seven touchdowns of his own.
The strength of the team was its defense, which ranked first in the NFL in points allowed (12.8 point/game). Nick Saban served as defensive coordinator of a side that fielded four Pro Bowlers in defensive tackle Michael Dean Perry (four sacks), safety Eric Turner (nine interceptions), defensive end Rob Burnett (10 sacks) and linebacker Pepper Johnson (122 tackles).
Briefly, that is what the 1994 Cleveland Browns looked like, but what did the world around them look like on October 2, 1994, when the Browns last reached 4-1? Some of the notable events included:
- Only three and a half months earlier, OJ Simpson was in the midst of his infamous White Bronco chase.
- Bill Clinton was in the middle of his first term as president with midterms elections one month away.
- Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” retained the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top 100 for the fourth consecutive week.
- Friends had premiered its first episode 10 days earlier.
- Amazon was a mere three months old.
- The River Wild topped the U.S. box office.
- Major League Baseball players were on strike, leading to the cancellation of the Fall Classic.
- The NBA faced another season without Michael Jordan as he continued to chase his dream of baseball.
- The NHL was in the early stages of a lockout.
As to current Browns players and coaches, QB Baker Mayfield and DE Myles Garrett were not born and head coach Kevin Stefanski was only 12-years-old. In fact, well over 50% of players on the Browns active roster were not alive in 1994. Further, the current stadium did not exist. It was built on the ground of the old Municipal Stadium after it was demolished.
The Browns face the Pittsburgh Steelers this week and are looking to match the ’94 team’s mark of five wins in the first six games. Let’s hope that it’s not another 26 years before the Browns start a season 4-1.
*One final note on the recent success of the Browns: they have won as many games in five games this season as they did from 2015-2017 combined.