The Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns will face off on Sunday in the 17th regular season meeting between the two clubs. The all-time series between the two is tied at 8 wins apiece, with the Dolphins adding another two wins when Playoff games are added. The teams first met in 1970, with the Browns shutting out the Dolphins 28-0, one of just two shutouts in the series, with the Browns also winning the other one, a 22-0 win over the Dolphins in 2005.
Miami won the next meeting between the teams, a Divisional-round Playoff game in December 1972, with Miami coming out on top 20-14 on their way to the completion of the Perfect Season.
Today, with the game scheduled for a 1pm ET kickoff tomorrow, we take a look back at three games from the history of the two teams, the first being the last time they faced off, the second being the last time they met at the site for tomorrow’s game (in Miami), and the third a classic meeting between the two franchises.
September 8, 2013 (Week 1)
The Dolphins opened their 2013 season on the road at Cleveland. The Browns got the ball to start the game, and they immediately started moving down the field. Trent Richardson picked up 26 yards on four carries on the drive, which started at the Browns’ 20-yard line, while quarterback Brandon Weeden completed passes to Travis Benjamin and Greg Little. An incomplete pass on 2nd-and-8 from the Miami 40-yard line forced a third down, with Weeden looking deep for Benjamin, only to have Nolan Carroll come away with the interception at the Miami 1-yard line.
The Dolphins did not do anything with the ball, however, going 3-and-out and punting back to the Browns. Cleveland returned the favor with a 3-and-out of their own, and the Dolphins decided to hold on to the ball for the next 7:13 spread over 15 plays. Running back Lamar Miller lost three yards on four carries, but Tannehill made up for it, throwing for 56 yards on the drive, with passes to Charles Clay, Brandon Gibson, Miller, and future Browns receiver Brian Hartline. The drive stalled at the Cleveland 27-yard line, however, and the Dolphins would settle for a 45-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis.
Dimitri Patterson would intercept a Weeden pass on third down on the next possession, and Miami once again had the ball at the Cleveland 27-yard line. After a carry from Tannehill and a Daniel Thomas rushing attempt, the Dolphins were facing a 3rd-and-6 before an eight-yard loss on a Tannehill sack. Sturgis would connect on the 49-yard field goal on the next play, giving Miami a 6-0 lead.
The next four possessions featured a Cleveland punt followed by a Miami punt, then a Weeden interception followed by a Tannehill interception. The Browns, after the back-and-forth changes of possession, found a rhythm and started driving near the end of the second quarter.
Weeden found former Dolphins receiver Davone Bess for 10 yards, then found future Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron for 16 yards. He would go back to Bess for another eight yards before Miami defensive end Cameron Wake and defensive tackle (and future Browns player) Randy Starks combined on a sack. Cameron became the focus of the offense over the next several plays, with an incomplete pass targeting him, then an 11-yard reception, and another incomplete pass which was nullified by a Dolphins penalty. After a Browns penalty (on a pass intended for Bess), Weeden targeted Little, but the ball fell incomplete. On 2nd-and-Goal from the Miami seven-yard line, Weeden returned to Cameron who caught the touchdown pass, giving Cleveland a 7-6 lead just before the half.
A Tannehill kneel down killed the clock and send the game to the intermission.
The Dolphins punted after their first three plays of the second half, then the Browns did the same, though they had to punt twice due to penalties. On the first punt, Marcus Thigpen muffed the return, but a player out-of-bounds call allowed Miami to attempt another return. Thigpen made this one count, picking up 74 yards on the return, only to have that negated by a holding call on Carroll and the Dolphins got the ball at their own 21-yard line.
The teams would then, again trade punts before Miami would put up the next points in the game. Miami started the drive at their own 49-yard line, picking up one-yard on a Thomas run. Then, after a incomplete pass attempt to Mike Wallace deep, Tannehill connected with Gibson for 12 yards, then Thomas picked up four yards on the ground. Finally, Tannehill found Hartline deep for the 34-yard touchdown pass and, with the Sturgis extra point, a 13-7 lead.
The Browns would respond on their next possession, with Weeden throwing for 47 yards. The drive would stall at the Miami 21-yard line, however, and the team would settle for a Billy Cundiff 39-yard field goal.
Another pair of traded punts would take the game into the fourth quarter, where Miami would again put together a touchdown scoring drive. This time, Tannehill would start the drive with a 24-yard pass to Gibson, followed by a 16-yard pass to Hartline. A one-yard run from Thomas and an incomplete pass to Wallace brought up 3rd-and-9, with Tannehill completing the pass to Gibson for 14 yards. Hartline would catch a pass on the next play, picking up seven yards, followed by another one-yard run from Thomas. Gibson would catch a six-yard pass on 3rd-and-2, then Hartline caught an 11-yard pass to take the ball to the Cleveland 5-yard line. A defensive pass interference call on the next play, a pass intended for Gibson, would set up Miami with 1st-and-Goal from the Cleveland 1-yard line, which Thomas would cap with a run off the right side. Miami would extend their lead to 20-10.
After a incomplete pass from Weeden to Richardson on first down, the Browns would see a two-yard gain from Cameron, followed by another reception for the tight end, this time for six yards. Cleveland chose to go for it on fourth down, but Wake came up with the sack, forcing a turnover on downs.
Two runs from Daniel Thomas and one from Lamar Miller led to a 36-yard field goal from Sturgis and Miami pushing the lead to 23-10.
The Browns would move the ball all the way to the Miami 18-yard line after starting at their own 14-yard line, with Weeden throwing for 77 yards before the Browns would turn over the ball on downs and Miami would kneel the ball twice to end the game.
Final: Dolphins 23-10.
Last Meeting at Site
December 5, 2010 (Week 13)
The Dolphins welcomed the Browns into Miami for a Week 13 contest in 2010, looking to use the combination of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to carry them through the game. Miami started with the ball and began moving down the field with Brown picking up 14 yards on the ground and 24 yards in the air on four of the team’s first six plays. Williams would gain eight yards on two carries as well, before the team lined up for a 41-yard field goal attempt from Dan Carpenter. The kick would be blocked, however, and Miami would come away with no points, despite a nearly 5-and-a-half minute drive.
The possession charts through the remainder of the first quarter and most of the second would look like:
- Cleveland - 3 plays - Punt
- Miami - 5 plays - Punt
- Cleveland - 4 plays - Punt
- Miami - 5 plays - Punt
- Cleveland - 6 plays - Punt
- Miami - 1 play - Interception
- Cleveland - 3 plays - Punt
- Miami - 3 plays - Punt
- Cleveland - 5 plays - Punt
- Miami - 4 plays - Interception
Finally, coming off the interception with the ball at the Miami 28-yard line, even a game which appeared to feature no offense would wind up with some points. Jake Delhomme would throw for 14 yards on the drive for Cleveland before the team would settle for a 32-yard Phil Dawson field goal.
Miami, getting the ball back with 1:37 remaining in the half, decided they wanted to put up a matching field goal, moving down the field efficiently in their 2-minute offense. Chad Henne throw for 26 yards on the drive, which started at the Miami 34-yard line, while two Cleveland penalties helped get the Dolphins into range for a Carpenter 60-yard field goal attempt. With “DC$” connecting on the kick, and Delhomme kneeling to kill the clock after the subsequent kickoff, the Dolphins and Browns went into half time tied 3-3.
With both teams realizing how difficult it is to score in the NFL, they both looked to turn the game back over to their best weapons, Cleveland punter Reggie Hodges and Miami punter Brandon Fields. Hodges started the second-half punt fest with Cleveland going 3-and-out on their first drive.
Fields would punt for the Dolphins after a five-play possession. The Browns nearly over-achieved on their second possession but Phil Dawson would miss the 47-yard field goal. Miami would settle for the “change field-position” strategy again with Fields pinning the Browns at the six-yard line with another punt.
Except, the Browns really surprised everyone on the next drive with a drive that included a 37-yard pass from Delhomme to Mohamed Massaquoi, followed a few plays later by another pass from Delhomme to Massaquoi, this one for 33-yards. Between the two long passes, Delhomme found Ben Watson for a 15-yard completion, then Peyton Hillis ran for 3-yards. After the 33-yard gain, Delhomme, from Miami’s three-yard line, found Watson for the touchdown and a 10-3 Cleveland lead.
The Dolphins would not be ready for the punt fest to continue when they started their next drive, with Henne throwing for 56 yards as well as picking up 10 yards on the ground. Brown carried the ball three times for 10 yards, while Williams added four yards on one carry. The drive was capped with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Henne to Anthony Fasano and a 10-10 tie.
Cleveland would go 3-and-out to restart the punting competition, followed by a 3-and-out from Miami. And then both teams would do it again. Cleveland would pick up a first down on their next possession, but a Cameron Wake sack would ultimately lead to another punt.
Miami, tired of waiting until fourth down to give the ball back to the Browns would see Henne throw an interception on 3rd-and-9, with Mike Adams returning the ball 25 yards to the Miami two-yard line. Delhome would kneel three times to kill the clock, allowing Dawson to connect on a 23-yard field goal to end the game 13-10.
The game would end with nearly as many combined punts (16) as points scored (23). Hodges would punt nine times for the Browns, averaging 48.7 yards per kick, while Fields would punt seven times for an average of 49.7 yards per kick.
Final: Browns 13-10.
January 4, 1986 (Divisional Playoffs)
A classic playoff game in the Orange Bowl? Yep, that should make our classic game list for this week. This should have been on the way to a Miami Super Bowl appearance against the Chicago Bears, but, unfortunately, the New England Patriots would pull off the upset in the AFC Championship game the next week. That said, Cleveland almost pulled off the win the AFC Divisional round.
The Browns barely made it into the playoffs with an 8-8 record on the year. The Dolphins, at 12-4 and the second seed in the AFC, were ready to put the upstart Browns, led by rookie quarterback Bernie Kosar, in their place. The Browns had other ideas, however, and nearly pulled it off, mainly behind a 161-yard rushing day from Earnest Byner.
Miami opened the scoring with a 51-yard field goal from Fuad Reveiz, giving them a 3-0 first-quarter lead. The Browns answered, and answered, and answered after that, however. They scored a first-quarter touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Kosar to Ozzie Newsome. The Dolphins would hold Kosar to just 50 more passing yards on the day, but Byner began taking over after that first score.
In the second quarter, Miami drove into Cleveland territory, only to have to punt from the Cleveland 36-yard line. They then intercepted a Kosar pass, setting up a Miami possession from the Browns’ 25-yard line. Miami quarterback Dan Marino would be picked off in the endzone, however, ending the Dolphins’ chances of retaking the lead.
The Browns would take the interception back to their own 45-yard line, then drive down the rest of the field before Byner scored from 21-yards out. At halftime, the Browns led 14-3 and appeared to be in control of the game.
That control continued in the third quarter, when Byner ran the ball in from 66-yards out, giving Cleveland the 21-3 lead. Miami turned it around after that, however.
The Dolphins drove 74-yards on their next possession, with Marino finding Nat Moore for the six-yard touchdown pass. After a Cleveland punt started Miami with the ball at the Browns’ 49-yard line, the Dolphins scored in just five plays. The touchdown came on a Ron Davenport 31-yard run, pulling the Dolphins to within a score at 21-17.
The fourth quarter continued in Miami’s favor, with Marino taking charge and willing the team into the lead. He conected with Tony Nathan for 39 yards on the drive, and Davenport capped the 74-yard possession with a 1-yard touchdown plunge. The Browns could not respond and Miami would ultimately escape with the 24-21 win.
The game ended with Marino having gone 24-for-45 for 238 yards with a touchdown and an interception, Davenport rushing for 48 yards and two touchdowns on six carries, with Nathan carrying the ball seven times for 21 yards and catching the ball 10 times for 101 yards. On the Browns side of the boxscore, Kosar was 10-for-19 for 66 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Byner picked up his 161 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, with four receptions for 25 yards on top of that.
Final: Dolphins 24-21.