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How a Bad Beat led me to Re-Examine the Browns History of Bad Beats at the Hands of the Broncos

The Grump Slump continued this past weekend after the Dallas Cowboys somehow snatched an ATS victory from the jaws of defeat. Yes, after a 3-0 start your favorite Grumpy Gambler is now 3-3 thanks to the inexplicable workings of the universe when it comes to sports wagering and the last three minutes of certain NFL games.

The Patriots +3- point underdogs, up 21-20 with 2:34 left on the clock at their 41-yard-line, looked like (I never like to use the word, but you know what I mean). So, I figure worst-case scenario they go three-and-out, punt the ball back to Dallas who drive down the field for the game winning FG and a cover for the Patriots. Unfortunately, NFL games rarely follow that simple of a script.

Instead, on 2nd & 15, Trevon Diggs intercepts Mac Jones and runs it back forty-two yards for a Dallas touchdown and a 26-21 lead. And there it is you think, game over, Dallas cover.

But again, “just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in.” Mac Jones throws a 75-yard touchdown pass on the next play and Pats backers are in business once again with the Pats up 27-26. As a degenerate gambler catching +3- points you think if they miss the two-point conversion then you’ll either win outright or even if Dallas kicks a field goal you’ll cover.

Well guess what happens next. That’s right, NE converts, and Dallas kicks a field goal to knot the game at 29-29 and send it to overtime. This is when a gambler such as me, with a rich history of bad beats knows something bad is going to happen.

And it does.

In the history of NFL Overtime, which was established in 1974, the vast majority of games have been decided by a field goal. Even with the new rules, five of the eight OT games played in 2021 were won by three-points.

Make that five of nine.

Because with 1st & 10 at the NE 35, rather than be conservative, Dak Prescott throws a strike to CeeDee Lamb and the game, and my bet go kablooey. It’s certainly not my worst bad beat, but it still stings.  Anyway, when life gives you lemons just be glad it isn’t herpes and move on. Cause you know like Eddie Murphy said, “you keep that shit forever, like luggage.”

So, in that vein I looked at this week’s schedule and there it was, the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns. Talk about a matchup steeped in bad beat history. And there’s overtime involved, just like in my bad beat story from last Sunday. If this isn’t kismet, then I don’t know the meaning of the word.

The game is all these years later simply referred to as “The Drive” and it’s one of the main reasons why Browns fans hate John Elway to this day and refer to him as “Satan”, “Horse Face”, “Bucky”, “The Man who Crushed our Souls” and many other unpleasantries. It’s quite possible they hate him more than Art Modell.

“The Drive” took place in the fourth quarter of the 1986 AFC Championship game played at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Down 20-13, with the ball at their own 2-yard-line, and 5:32 left to play in regulation, Elway would drive his team 98 yards in 15 plays, and cap it with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Mark Jackson and tie the game at 20. To try and describe it any further would not do it justice, so I’ll just say if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you check it out. Unless of course you’re a Browns fan.

Overtime would be relatively tame compared to what happened in regulation. After the Browns went three-and-out, Elway engineered a nine play 60-yard drive capped by a Rich Karlis 33-yard FG to win it. Karlis hooked the kick and Browns fans still believe to this day that it went wide, but the refs gave the good sign, and Elway and the Broncos won 23-20.

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The Browns were -3-point favorites in that 1986 Championship Game and if not for Elway’s heroics on “The Drive”, Browns backers would have cashed.

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the only bad beat for the Browns against the Broncos as the following year’s AFC Championship would be another that would go down in Broncos vs Browns history. The game in question is simply referred to as “The Fumble.”

After trailing at the half 21-3, the Browns rallied to tie the game at 31-31 with 5:14 remaining. The Broncos would take the lead 38-31 on an Elway-led drive of 75-yards. Now it was the Browns turn, with QB Bernie Kosar leading them from their own 25-yard line to the Denver 8.

Then it happened.

With just over a minute left on the clock, Kosar handed the ball to running back Earnest Byner, who having secured a first down inside the 5-yard line tried to barrel into the end zone. Instead, he was stripped of the ball by defensive back Jeremiah Castille at the goal line. Castille recovered and the chance for the Browns to tie the game was gone. Hence, “The Fumble.”

Denver would win 38-33 and become the first AFC team to win consecutive conference championships since the 78-79 Steelers. The Broncos were -2- point favorites in this game and if Byner holds onto the ball who knows what would have happened. Alas, Broncos backers win again.

Two years later Denver would win their third conference title of the 80’s by beating, you guessed it, the Cleveland Browns 37-21. The line of Denver -3- was never in doubt and once again Browns bettors went home disappointed.

The Broncos lead the overall series 24-6 SU and have lost to Cleveland only once since 1990. It was in 2018 when guess who, yes Case Keenum, Cleveland’s starting QB tonight, was the starter for The Broncos.

You absolutely cannot make this shit up.

Tonight, the Browns are currently hanging on as -2-point favorites at home versus the Broncos, even though they have a backup QB going in Keenum and multiple injuries at their skill positions. It will be interesting to see how the line trends in the hours leading up to the game. One thing’s for certain, the history and the hatred between these two squads should be on full display and based on what’s taken place in the previous 30 games between the two, anything can happen.

If you’d like to check out the game, total and props lines head over The Props Network NFL page.

Enjoy the game and I hope you are fortunate.