After Miami's Fuad Reveiz booted a 51-yard field goal early in the first quarter, the Browns came back with 21 unanswered points at a touchdown-a-quarter clip—a 16-yard Kosar-to-Ozzie New-some pass and then Byner's two jaunts, the second of which showcased the slowness of the Dolphin secondary. After that TD, Miami seemed woozy and wobbly. Marino finally hit Nat Moore with a six-yard pass with 5:13 left in the third quarter, climaxing a 74-yard, 13-play drive that included 11 pass plays and started with Marino being booed. Less than four minutes later, rookie running back Ron Davenport got loose around the left side and steam-rolled free safety Don Rogers for a 31-yard touchdown—and suddenly Cleveland's 18-point lead was down to four, 21-17.
Cleveland, though, seemed up to the task. After an exchange of punts, the Browns methodically drove up the field from their own nine to the Miami 48. On third and two, Byner, indicating he was tired and hurt, started to come out of the game, but he was waved back in. Says Byner, "There was a lot of confusion. I didn't hear the play correctly." He was supposed to run right and block for Curtis Dickey; instead, he ran left—and Dickey was hit for a loss of six yards by Mack Moore. "That was the play we had to have," said assistant coach Steve Crosby, "and we didn't make it."
Cleveland punted, prepared to play the rugged defense of which they are so proud. But it was Marino time. Marino made a fine throw up the middle to Nathan, who finally came to ground at the Cleveland 34. "Sometimes," says Nathan, "you have to be shocked into playing good football. We had been shocked." Seven plays later, Davenport bulled over right tackle from the one for the winning score.
With 1:57 left, the Browns had one last chance, but Kosar failed to make the best use of the clock, and Cleveland died on its own 46. Coach Marty Schottenheimer was unbowed. "The only thing we ran out of was time. Not effort, execution or preparation."
Said Davenport, who has scored 15 touchdowns this season: "Championship teams don't let anything get them down. But we're definitely going to have to play better next week."