2002 Cleveland Browns

QB Kelly Holcomb Had a Career Game in This Matchup

The last time the Cleveland Browns made the playoffs, it was almost a surprise they didn’t win. I know, it seems strange when you read it out loud, but up until the last few minutes of the game, it really looked like the Browns had it won.

But in the final moments of regulation, their opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers, proved to be too much for the Browns to handle.

The Terrible Towels of Heinz Field were waving in their terrible glory, the Pittsburgh faithful playing the best defense they could from the stands with roaring cheers, screams, and chants. The Steelers were up, 36-33 and were defending a last minute Cleveland offense intent on driving into Pittsburgh territory for a game-tying field goal.

Seven seconds remained as backup QB Kelly Holcomb, playing in relief of the injured Tim Couch, took the snap out of shotgun, dropping back five yards as the Cleveland offensive line provided ample protection.

Looking to the right side of the field, Holcomb delivered one last 16 yard strike to WR Andre King. The receiver brought the catch in from his knees, several muddy yards separating him from the sideline. King dashed toward the sanctuary of the sideline, almost slipping as he ran and dived, outstretched, out of bounds.

The last second effort could’ve put Cleveland in position for a game-tying field goal from the 29 yard line, but the play came just one second too late. The Steelers moved on with a Wild Card victory and the Browns were sent back to Ohio after leading the matchup for 59 minutes.

Cleveland gave up 22 points in the 4th quarter that day, allowing Pittsburgh to take the lead with less than a minute to play.

But despite the loss, the Browns were impressive for most of the game. Kelly Holcomb amassed 429 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT on the day. His performance at QB proved to be a brief spark in what would be a long line of rather dark years to follow for Cleveland, a franchise that has started 22 players at the QB position since rejoining the NFL for the ’99 season.

As the team continues to search for the guy they hope will finally transform them into postseason regulars, fans can look back to their last playoff appearance and the solid effort of the 2002 Cleveland Browns, and the backup who came up big, as unlikely heroes.

The Browns were big that day, they just weren’t quite big enough for the win.


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