The 1986Cleveland Browns season was the team's 37th season with the National Football League. The death of Don Rogers, a promising young defensive back who was preparing to enter his third season in the NFL, cast a black cloud over the team as it prepared for the 1986 season.
Cleveland opened the regular season on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears. While the Browns played well in scoring 31 points against the feared Chicago defense, they surrendered a season-high 41 points in a losing effort. The team responded well and won four of the next five games, including wins against divisional rivals Houston and Pittsburgh. The win against Pittsburgh snapped a losing streak of sixteen games for the Browns in Three Rivers Stadium.
After a week seven loss at home against the Green Bay Packers, the Browns won eight of their last nine regular season games to capture the AFC Central division title and finish the year with a franchise-record 12 wins (against 4 losses).
Bernie Kosar, November 10, 1986, 401 passing yards vs. Miami Dolphins
Bernie Kosar, November 23, 1986, 414 passing yards vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The first round opponent for the Browns in the playoffs was the New York Jets. In a marathon game that lasted over four hours, the Browns won their first playoff game in 18 years, 23–20, on a 27-yard Mark Moseley field goal in double overtime.
Eight days later, the Browns hosted the Denver Broncos to determine the AFC Championship and a trip to Pasadena, California to face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. In a repeat of the Browns' playoff game from the previous week, the game was, once again, undecided at the end of regulation with both teams having scored 20 points.Even though the Browns had star defensive players like Lawyer Tillman and Cory Chaney, The Broncos offense would not give up. The Broncos forced overtime on a 98-yard possession at the end of the fourth quarter that culminated in a game-tying touchdown and later became known simply as "The Drive". The Browns received the ball to begin the overtime period, but were forced to punt after running only three plays. The Broncos then took possession and ultimately scored the game winning points on a 33-yard field goal by Rich Karlis to send Denver to the Super Bowl.
This game is best remembered for The Drive when the Broncos drove 98 yards to tie the game with 37 seconds left in regulation, and Denver kicker Rich Karlis made the game-winning 33-yard field goal 5:38 into overtime.