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Red Right 88 was the designation of a Cleveland Browns passing play that was most famously called during the January 4, 1981 American Football Conference divisional playoff game against the Oakland Raiders.

Trailing 14-12 with less than a minute remaining in the contest, the Browns had the ball on the Raiders 13-yard line and were in position for a potential game-winning field goal. Browns quarterback Brian Sipe called a time out and conferred with head coach Sam Rutigliano, who called a pass play, "Red Right 88" and instructed Sipe to "throw it into Lake Erie" if the play was anything less than wide open.[1] On the ensuing play, Sipe chose to force a pass to tight end Ozzie Newsome. However, the pass was intercepted in the end zone by Raiders defensive back Mike Davis who had cut in front of Newsome's square in pass route, putting an end to the Browns season. Oakland subsequently advanced to the AFC conference championship, where they bested the San Diego Chargers, and went on to win Super Bowl XV over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The logic behind trying for the touchdown was that Browns kicker Don Cockroft had previously missed two field goal attempts, had one extra point attempt blocked and had another aborted following a bad snap in the freezing Cleveland cold and wind. In addition, the weather was cold and windy, and the field was muddy. "What many people don't know about that situation is that I was a long way from being 100 percent physically in 1980," Cockroft said in a 2006 interview. "I had two herniated discs and needed four epidurals to just get through the season. I probably should have gone on IR."[2]

Had the play been executed properly, it would have presumably resulted in a touchdown. The primary receiver, Dave Logan, was crossing left-to-right, had a step on his defender and was open at the six-yard line. Unfortunately, the quarterback, Brian Sipe misread the defensive back's movements and thought Logan was covered so he went to the secondary receiver and threw in traffic where it was intercepted. So, the Browns lost and missed a possible trip to the Super Bowl.

The play call itself has since become an infamous part of Cleveland sports lore, ranking with The Drive, The Fumble, The Catch, Edgar Renteria's Single and The Shot as a bad memory that symbolizes the 45-year professional championship drought that has plagued the city.

The contest itself, with a game-time temperature of 4 °F (−16 °C) (with a −36 °F (−37.8 °C) wind chill) was the coldest NFL game since the legendary Ice Bowl of December 31, 1967 that pitted the Dallas Cowboys against the Green Bay Packers. Just one year later, even colder conditions prevailed in the AFC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers, also known as the Freezer Bowl.

See also

References

  1. ^ Henkel, Frank M., Cleveland Browns History, 2005
  2. ^ King, Steve. Where are they Now?: Cockroft, Cleveland Browns. 2006-12-12
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