1980 Cleveland Browns season
Head Coach Sam Rutigliano
Home Field Cleveland Municipal Stadium
Record 11–5–0
Place 1st AFC Central
Playoff Finish Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
Previous Season Next Season
1979 1981

The 1980 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 31st season with the National Football League.

"The Kardiac Kids" Season summary[edit | edit source]

The 1980 Cleveland Browns were known as the Kardiac Kids for having several games decided in the final moments. Finishing 11-5, the Browns captured the hearts and imagination of many pro football observers and their fans, as well as their first division title since 1971, winning a tiebreaker with the Houston Oilers. The 1980 season was the first time that Cleveland had qualified for the postseason since 1972. It was also Cleveland's version of the best roller-coaster ride ever, with plenty of very high highs and very low lows. These Browns simply didn't know how to play a boring game.

So it seemed fitting, then, that the two most important contests of the year, the regular-season finale at Cincinnati and the divisional playoff with the Oakland Raiders, went down to the end as well.

Rallying from a 10-0 first-half deficit, the Browns erased the memory of that painful 28-23 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, which they lost on a last second Hail Mary pass from Pro Bowl QB Tommy Kramer to then All-Pro WR (and future NBA broadcaster) Ahmad Rashad, rallying to beat the Bengals 27-24 to finally snare the Central championship. Don Cockroft kicked the game-winning 22-yard field goal with 1:25 left, then the Bengals got as far as the Cleveland 14 before time ran out. In the excruciating 14-12 loss to the Raiders in what has become known as the Red Right 88, or Ice Bowl, game, the Browns, trailing 14-12, marched to the Oakland 13 in the waning seconds, only to have Brian Sipe's pass into the end zone for Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome - on a play called Red Right 88 - get intercepted.

That was about the only big mistake Sipe made all year. Sipe simply was brilliant, throwing for 4,132 yards and 30 touchdowns, with just 14 interceptions, to win the NFL MVP award. But Sipe, while the heart and soul of head coach Sam Rutigliano's team, had plenty of help. He was able to use a variety of weapons, spreading the ball around to keep defenses guessing.

Five Browns had 50 or more receptions, led by running back Mike Pruitt with 63. Running back Calvin Hill, exceptional as a third-down pass receiver, recorded six TDs among his 27 catches. Wide receiver Ricky Feacher grabbed just 10 passes, but four went for scores, including two within a matter of minutes in the division-clinching win over the Bengals. And when the Browns needed to move the ball on the ground, they could turn to FB Mike Pruitt, who went over 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight year with 1,034. He also ran for six TDs.

It was a wild season, which is why members of the 1980 team are still loved decades later by older Browns fans with good memories. To commemorate the Browns success during the 1980 holiday season, a version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was recorded by Clark Walter, Mack Hayes and Sandra Hayes. Entitled, "The Twelve Days of a Cleveland Browns Christmas," each day mentioned a hero on a "Rutigliano Super Bowl team".[1] [2]

Offseason[edit | edit source]

NFL Draft[edit | edit source]

The following were selected in the 1980 NFL Draft.

Round Overall Player Position School/Club Team
1 27 Charles White Running Back USC
2 54 Cleveland Crosby Defensive End Wisconsin
3 72 Cliff Odom Linebacker University of Texas at Arlington
4 99 Ron Crews Nose Tackle UNLV
4 109 Paul McDonald Quarterback USC
5 116 Elvis Franks Defensive End Morgan State
8 209 Jeff Copeland Linebacker Texas Tech
9 236 Roy De Walt Running Back University of Texas at Arlington
10 263 Kevin Fidel Center San Diego State
11 294 Roland Sales Running Back Arkansas
12 321 Marcus Jackson Defensive End Purdue


Regular season[edit | edit source]

Memorable moments[edit | edit source]

Week 7 (Home) – Browns 26, Green Bay Packers 21

  • Facing a third and 20 from the Packers' 46 yard line with 16 seconds left, Brian Sipe completes a pass to Dave Logan for the winning touchdown.

Week 8 (Home) – Browns 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 26

  • Sipe and company fight back from deficits of 10–0, 20–7, and 26–14 to defeat the Steelers in Cleveland. Ozzie Newsome hauls in the winning catch with 5:35 to play.

Week 9 (Home) – Browns 27, Chicago Bears 21

  • Although Mike Pruitt's 56-yard touchdown run ultimately wins the game for Cleveland, Sipe throws for 298 yards and reaches a milestone in Browns history, becoming the Browns' all-time passing leader.

Week 11 (Away)- Browns 13, Pittsburgh Steelers 16

  • Seeking their first ever win at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium, the Browns are once again denied, this time on a Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swann touchdown with eleven seconds left. It marks the Browns' 11th consecutive defeat at Pittsburgh.

Week 15 (Away) – Browns 23, Minnesota Vikings 28

  • The Browns relinquish a 23–9 lead with only 7:15 remaining. The game is probably most remembered for Browns Safety Thom Darden's deflection of Tommy Kramer's "Hail Mary pass", which is caught by Ahmad Rashad as time expires. Kramer's 456 passing yards were the most ever given up by the Browns.

Week 16 (Away) – Browns 27, Cincinnati Bengals 24

  • Needing a win to secure the Central Division title, the Browns hold off the Bengals 27–24. Don Cockroft's game winning field goal comes with 1:25 left to play.

Schedule[edit | edit source]

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 7, 1980 at New England Patriots L 34–17
2 September 15, 1980 Houston Oilers L 16–7
3 September 21, 1980 Kansas City Chiefs W 20–13
4 September 28, 1980 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 34–27
5 October 5, 1980 Denver Broncos L 19–16
6 October 12, 1980 at Seattle Seahawks W 27–3
7 October 19, 1980 Green Bay Packers W 26–21
8 October 26, 1980 Pittsburgh Steelers W 27–26
9 November 3, 1980 Chicago Bears W 27–21
10 November 9, 1980 at Baltimore Colts W 28–27
11 November 16, 1980 at Pittsburgh Steelers L 16–13
12 November 23, 1980 Cincinnati Bengals W 31–7
13 November 30, 1980 at Houston Oilers W 17–14
14 December 7, 1980 New York Jets W 17–14
15 December 14, 1980 at Minnesota Vikings L 28–23
16 December 21, 1980 at Cincinnati Bengals W 27–24

Standings[edit | edit source]

AFC Central
Cleveland Browns 11 5 0 .688 357 310
Houston Oilers 11 5 0 .688 295 251
Pittsburgh Steelers 9 7 0 .563 352 313
Cincinnati Bengals 6 10 0 .375 244 312

Roster[edit | edit source]

1980 Cleveland Browns roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice/Taxi Squad None - vacant

Rookies in italics


Son of the Kardiac Kids[edit | edit source]

The 2007 Cleveland Browns have had a season similar to the Kardiac Kids, with several games being decided in the final minutes or in overtime. One game in particular against the Baltimore Ravens, which the Browns won in overtime because of a reversed call on a field goal by kicker Phil Dawson, led the Cleveland Plain Dealer to publish an editorial calling the 2007 Browns "The 'Son of the Kardiac Kids'" [1]. The similarities have been at least acknowledged by the organization, with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski being quoted in the article calling his team "The Kardiac Kids' little brother."

Postseason[edit | edit source]

AFC Divisional Playoff[edit | edit source]

  • Oakland Raiders 14, Cleveland Browns 12
Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Raiders 0 7 0 7 14
Browns 0 6 6 0 12

at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

  • TV: NBC
  • Attendance: 77,655

Red Right 88[edit | edit source]

AFC Divisional Playoff Game (Home) January 4, 1981 - Browns 12, Oakland Raiders 14 In sub-zero conditions on Cleveland's windy Lakefront, the Browns and Raiders battled into the waning moments of the contest. Down 14-12 and having mounted a 72-yard drive, the Browns were within striking distance at the Oakland 13 yard line with less than a minute remaining. Although it was only second down, Don Cockroft had already missed two field goal attempts in the swirling winds. Browns Coach Sam Rutigliano chose a more aggressive strategy, opting to go for the kill and pass the ball on second down instead of conservatively running the ball and then, perhaps, settling for a last second field goal. The play called was Red Right 88, which was intended for Dave Logan. However, Ozzie Newsome managed to get clear in the Raiders endzone and Sipe fired the ball to him—but the wind managed to interfere with the plan and heartbreak was the outcome for the frozen 77,655 Cleveland faithful: the ball was intercepted by Oakland Cornerback Mike Davis. The 1980 season will be remembered fondly albeit bittersweet, but the game would go down in Browns history (along with The Drive and The Fumble) as one of the franchises sadder moments.

Awards and records[edit | edit source]

Milestones[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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