December 21, 1980 – Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland 27 – Cincinnati 24
The 1980 Cleveland Browns were affectionately known as the Kardiac Kids. They had actually earned the nickname in the 1979 season. The team had become known for playing in games that went down to the last second. The 1980s team lived up to this reputation and then some.
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To set the stage for this game, you have to go the week prior. Keep in mind (there were no bye weeks at this time). The Browns went to Minnesota holding a one-game lead over Houston and with a win over the Vikings would clinch the division.
But the come-from-behind script got flipped on the Browns when they lost the game on a Hail Mary pass from Tommy Kramer to Ahmad Rashad.
Now the Browns took their 10-5 record to Cincinnati in what amounted to a virtual must-win game. If they lost, Houston could steal the division with a win and the Browns would be left out of the playoffs altogether if New England won.
The Bengals were 6-9 and, although in the basement of the AFC Central were a year away from going to the Super Bowl. This was no easy out. And the Browns found themselves staring at a 17-10 deficit early in the third quarter. Quarterback Brian Sipe led the Browns on two scoring drives to give the Browns a 24-17 lead. But the Bengals did not go quietly and scored a touchdown of their own. The game entered the final quarter tied at 24-24.
Sipe (who would be AFC MVP that year) led the Browns on a long drive that ended with a Don Cockroft field goal with only 1:25 left on the clock. A spirited drive by the Bengals ended when they did not have enough time to get their field goal unit on the field and the Browns were AFC Central champions.