In Marty Schottenheimer's first full year as head coach, the Browns bounced back from a horrible 5–11 season in 1984 to make the playoffs, despite a .500 season. Rookie quarterback Bernie Kosar led the Browns' offense; Ozzie Newsome's 62 receptions earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl; Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack each rushed for over 1,000 yards.
In the Divisional Playoffs, the Browns led the Miami Dolphins 21–3 in the third quarter, but in a scene that would be repeated 4 more times in the 1980s, the Browns collapsed down the stretch as the Dolphins came back to score three touchdowns to win the game 24–21.
Until 2011, Cleveland's .500 winning percentage held the record for the lowest such percentage for a division winning playoff team in a non-strike season; the record was tied by the 2008 San Diego Chargers, then broken by the 2010 Seattle Seahawks. (Incidentally, in 1985 and 2008, an 11–5 team [Denver in 1985, New England in 2008] missed the playoffs.) Cleveland was able to advance by winning their relatively weak division.