The Browns and Jaguars have played 17 times with Jacksonville holding an 12-5 edge and are on a three-game winning streak. The Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers entered the NFL as expansion teams in 1995. The Jags have won three divisional championships. Twice in the now-defunct AFC Central (1998 and 1999) and once in the AFC South (2017). Jacksonville has made the playoffs seven times; 2017 being the most recent. The Browns and the Jaguars first played in 1995 when both were members of the AFC Central and the Jags went on a six-game winning streak that extended against the Browns after the NFL allowed the Browns to re-enter the league in 1999.
During this time period there have been a few memorable games between these two teams. One game is remembered for one word, “Bottlegate.” It was December 16, 2001. The Browns were 6-6 and still had slim playoff hopes while the Jaguars were 5-7 and had already been eliminated from the playoffs. Because it was a cold and windy day in Cleveland, it was a low-scoring game. The Browns’ lone touchdown came on a 97-yard interception return by CB Anthony Henry. The Jags scored first on a four-yard pass from QB Mark Brunell to WR Jimmy Smith, however, the extra point failed. After three field goals by Jags kicker Mike Hollis and one by Browns kicker Phil Dawson, the Browns got the ball back with about three minutes left in the game trailing 15-10. With about a minute left in the game, the Browns had moved the ball to the Jaguars’ 12-yard line. Needing a touchdown, the Browns appeared to convert on fourth and two on a Tim Couch to Quincy Morgan pass. On the next play, Couch spiked the ball to stop the clock. Then head official Terry McAulay announced the fourth and two was being reviewed after the Browns had run another play. Even though it appeared Morgan had lost control of the ball, NFL rules stated a play could not be reviewed if the team had already run another play, which the Browns had with the spike to stop the clock. If the Browns had called a time out, the referees would’ve had time to review the play. But, as usual, when it came to the Browns, the rules didn’t apply. The Browns lost 15-10. Since the officials never communicated to the fans what was going on, the Browns faithful started throwing plastic beer bottles on the field.
Here’s how it all happened: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-teMkx2vgA.
The following season on December 8, 2002, the Browns and Jaguars met for the first time since “Bottlegate.” Again, the Browns were in the playoff hunt and the Jaguars were going nowhere. The previous week the Browns’ playoff hopes took a hit when they lost to the Carolina Panthers by a score of 13-6, so this game was a must-win. Trailing 17-14 with 1:34 left, the game appeared to be over when the Jaguars Akin Ayodele intercepted Browns QB Tim Couch at the Browns 24. After the Jaguars moved the ball inside the 10, the Browns used all their time outs and stopped Jacksonville on three plays. Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin decided to go for the field goal to put the game out of reach. However, on the ensuing kickoff, Jags kicker Danny Boyd, who was playing in his first NFL game, attempted a squib kick which the Browns returned to their own 47 yard line with about a minute left. On the next play, Couch was sacked and after an eight-yard gain, the Browns lined up for the final play. After looking to his left, Couch saw Quincy Morgan in single coverage to the right and launched a 50 yard bomb that Morgan caught in the end zone. Or did he? The play was called a catch and a touchdown but was reviewed. Back in the early days of reviewing plays, a play was only overturned if there was indisputable evidence. Because side judge Bill Spyksma had signaled it was a touchdown, there was no indisputable evidence to the contrary. After the Phil Dawson extra point, the Browns left Jacksonville with a 21-20 victory.
Here are the ESPN highlights of the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH7pTdy8d2M.
This series featured other weird moments. In the game prior to “Bottlegate” in 2001, Browns DT Gerald Warren took a cheap shot on Jags QB Mark Brunell in a Browns 23-14 win. In 2000, Jacksonville routed the Browns 48-0, which was the final straw in former Browns head coach Chris Palmers’ tenure. In 1999, NFL official Jeff Triplette’s weighted penalty flag hit Browns OL Orlando Brown in the eye and Brown shoved Triplette to the ground. The hit to the eye ended Brown’s NFL career due to a family history of glaucoma. As the Browns and the Jaguars play this Sunday, the Browns will again be looking to end a losing streak against an opponent. Lets hope it’s just another normal Browns victory.