Browns-Chiefs rivalry as close as they come

No head-to-head match-up could be any closer than that between the Browns and their opponent today, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Each team has won 11 times, with a pair of ties sprinkled in. Neither team has won as many as three in a row in the course of the Browns-Chiefs rivalry.

Even considering just the “new” Browns (since 1999), the Chiefs have a one-game edge (4-3), but the Browns have outscored them (192-189).

As the teams suit up to break the tie today, here’s a look back at a few of the notable games and moments in this 44-year series.

1971: The first game of the Browns-Chiefs rivalry was the only one played at Kansas City Municipal Stadium. The Browns lost their fourth straight game,13-7, to fall to 4-5. Their long-ago backup, Len Dawson, had led the Chiefs to the Super Bowl title two years earlier, and they’d go on to win the division again. On this day the Browns’ run game was stymied, and QB Mike Phipps was pulled after two interceptions, nine completions in 22 attempts, and no points. Bill Nelsen rallied the Browns for their only touchdown, 18 yards to TE Milt Morin. He recaptured his starting job, and the Browns won their final five games to earn the division title. Rookie RB/KR Mike Adamle made a cameo appearance for Kansas City, possibly the first appearance by the son of a Brown against Cleveland.

1973: Two evenly-matched teams met at Arrowhead Stadium in a season when both would finish with 7-5-2 records. The home team led by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the Browns broke through to tie on the strength of two big plays: a 65-yard touchdown run by rookie Greg Pruitt, and a 51-yard scoring strike from Phipps to Morin.

1980: The Kardiac Kids had lost their first two games, and a magical season might never come to pass if they had lost to the mediocre Chiefs in Cleveland. But rookie RB Charles White scored both Browns touchdowns, including the go-ahead score on a 31-yard pass play from Brian Sipe, and the Browns won 20-13. It was the only receiving score of White’s career.

1988: The season opener was a Pyrrhic victory for the Browns. They won, 6-3, but lost QB Bernie Kosar to an right elbow injury from a hit by unchecked blitzing safety Lloyd Burruss. He missed the next six games. Although both Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack played, RB Tim Manoa led the Browns with 95 yards from scrimmage. On a side note, in the first career game for KC’s Alfredo Roberts, he gained 34 yards receiving, the second-highest output of his career. The University of Miami product was among the earliest in a long line of productive tight ends from the school, and he served as TE coach for the Browns in 2007-08 under offensive coordinator and former teammate Rob Chudzinski.

1995: Mary Schottenheimer’s Chiefs team started out 10-1 en route to a division title. The only loss came at the hands of Bill Belichick’s Browns on September 24. While Art Modell was secretly negotiating his way out of Cleveland, the Browns improved to 3-1 with a 35-17 home win. LBs Gerald Dixon and Mike Caldwell each returned Steve Bono interceptions for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, making former Brown Webster Slaughter‘s late touchdown irrelevant. Keenan McCardell led Cleveland with 85 receiving yards.

2002: The 40-39 season opening loss is best known for Dwayne Rudd‘s bonehead helmet toss, a penalty that let the Chiefs kick the game-ending field goal. But from start to finish, this was truly one of the most fascinating Browns games of the new era, with no fewer than ten lead changes, including five in the wacky fourth quarter. The legend of Kelly Holcomb began here, as the career backup threw for 326 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs in his first Browns start. WRs Kevin Johnson and Quincy Morgan connected for another score.

2006: Another wild game saw the Browns come back with two fourth-quarter touchdown catches by TE Steve Heiden to force overtime. QB Derek Anderson, in his first significant NFL action in relief of Charlie Frye, then rambled 33 yards down the sideline to set up a Phil Dawson field goal, giving the home team (pictured celebrating) a 31-28 win.

2009: For a December match-up between two teams going nowhere, this was about as entertaining as it gets. Jerome Harrison set an NFL record with 286 rushing yards, including the 28-yard game-winning score in the final minute. Josh Cribbs scored twice on kickoff returns in the first half. Despite only 66 yards passing from Brady Quinn, the Browns won 41-34.

2013: In their most recent meeting, the Browns hung in there with the 7-0 Chiefs at Arrowhead, but they couldn’t overcome crucial gaffes by Davone Bess in a 23-17 loss. The receiver dropped several passes and muffed a fourth-quarter punt that would’ve given Cleveland, trailing by just three points, possession near midfield. Bess was filling in for return sensation Travis Benjamin, who, in his last game wearing number 80, tore his ACL in the third quarter. On the bright side, QB Jason Campbell was solid, and WR Josh Gordon had a game-high 132 yards on five catches.