In American football, The Fumble was a play in the 1987 AFC Championship Game between the Browns and Broncos on January 17, 1988 at Mile High Stadium. With 1:12 left in the game, Browns running back Earnest Byner fumbled on the Broncos 1 yard line while trying to score a touchdown to pull within one point. The Broncos went on to win 38–33 after taking an intentional safety.
The same two teams had met in the previous AFC Championship Game. That game also ended in victory for the Broncos and featured a famous five-minute, 98-yard touchdown drive led by quarterback John Elway, known simply as The Drive, to take the game into overtime.
During the game, the Broncos jumped to a 21–3 halftime lead, but Browns' quarterback Bernie Kosar led them back with four second-half touchdowns. By the middle of the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 31. The Broncos then took the lead on a long drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Elway to running back Sammy Winder, making it 38–31 with 6 minutes left. Cleveland responded by advancing the ball to Denver's 8-yard line with 1:12 left, setting the stage for the play that made this game one of the most famous in NFL lore.
Browns running back Earnest Byner took the handoff and appeared to be on his way to score the game-tying touchdown, but was stripped by Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille at the one-yard line. Denver recovered, gave the Browns an intentional safety, and went on to win 38–33.
On ESPN Classic's "The Fumble, the Story of the 1987 AFC Championship", the Browns' then-head coach Marty Schottenheimer analyzed the play, showing that the fumble was not entirely Byner's fault. Schottenheimer stated: "The Browns' wide receiver #84, Webster Slaughter is supposed to take ten steps then block Castille to the outside. Instead, he wanted to watch the play."
Castille said: "I was thinking, 'I got burned the last time I tried to bump-and-run [Slaughter]', so instead I stepped back six-to-eight yards before the snap, so I could better see the play unfold. I saw it was a draw play and that Byner had the ball. I remember thinking that Byner ran all over us that entire second half, so there was no way I was going to tackle him. Instead, I went for the ball the whole time."
Schottenheimer continued: "Earnest never saw Castille coming. Earnest was the reason we were still in the game at that point. He had several heroic runs and catches over the course of the second half that allowed us to have a chance to tie the game at 38. All of these heroics, unfortunately, were overshadowed by a single draw play from the eight-yard line."
Dick Enberg, the play-by-play announcer of the broadcast on NBC, noted: "And wasn't it ironic that Denver got the ball back on the two-yard line? Wasn't it just one year ago where the Broncos were on their own two before putting together what became 'The Drive'?"
ESPN Page Two writer Bill Simmons used "The Fumble" as an argument for why the Browns should be considered one of the most cursed franchises in sports. He also describes their fan base as "tortured" following this play. His article, "The Levels of Losing," appeared January 29, 2010.
Despite being primarily remembered for "The Fumble", Byner had a relatively successful career. After spending another year with the Browns, he was traded to the Washington Redskins prior to the start of the 1989 season for running back Mike Oliphant. In his five seasons with Washington, Byner was selected to play in the Pro Bowl twice (1990, 1991) and won a Super Bowl in the 1991 season. In that season's Super Bowl XXVI, he caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter, and the Redskins won, giving him the NFL Championship ring he could not win with the Browns.
He ended up going back to Cleveland for two more years, and finished his career in 1998, after spending two years with the transplanted Baltimore Ravens. In his 14 NFL seasons, Byner rushed for 8,261 yards, caught 512 passes for 4,605 yards, and scored 72 total touchdowns (56 rushing, 15 receiving, one fumble recovery). At the time of his retirement, Byner ranked within the NFL's top 30 all-time leaders in rushing attempts, rushing touchdowns, rushing yards, and total yards.
The 1987 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 38th season in the National Football League.
Led by another 3,000-yard season from Bernie Kosar, the Browns captured their third-straight AFC Central crown. In the divisional playoffs, against the Indianapolis Colts at Municipal Stadium, the Browns routed the Colts 38–21 to advance to their second-straight AFC Championship Game. For the second year in a row, the Browns were matched up against the Denver Broncos for a trip to Super Bowl XXII. The Browns fell behind early at Mile High Stadium, as the Broncos roared out to a big halftime lead. However, the Browns scored 30 points in the second half, and drove down the field in the late fourth quarter with a chance to score a game-tying touchdown. With 1:12 left in the game, RB Earnest Byner was stripped of the ball at the 2-yard line by Broncos' defensive back Jeremiah Castille in a play since dubbed The Fumble. Denver ran down the clock and took an intentional safety with 8 seconds left, and the Browns fell 38–33. Denver returned to the Super Bowl for a second straight year at the expense of the Browns.1989 Cotton Bowl Classic
The 1989 Mobil Cotton Bowl Classic was a college football bowl game played on January 2, 1989, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The game was played on January 2, the day after New Year's Day, since New Year's Day fell on a Sunday. The bowl game featured the Arkansas Razorbacks from the Southwest Conference and the UCLA Bruins from the Pacific-10 Conference and was televised in the United States on CBS. Troy Aikman, the UCLA quarterback and LaSalle Harper, an Arkansas linebacker were named the Most Valuable Players of the game.1989 Rose Bowl
The 1989 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game played on Monday January 2, 1989, because New Year's Day was on a Sunday. It was the 75th Rose Bowl Game, and also the 100th anniversary of the Tournament of Roses parade. The Michigan Wolverines defeated the USC Trojans 22–14. Michigan FB Leroy Hoard was named the Rose Bowl Player Of The Game. This was the first of 22 Rose Bowls broadcast by ABC Sports. It had been broadcast on NBC since the first television broadcast in the 1952 Rose Bowl.1991 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1991 NCAA Division I-A football season was the main college football season sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The season began on August 28, 1991, and ended on January 1, 1992. For the second consecutive season, there was a split national championship. Both the Miami Hurricanes and the Washington Huskies finished the season undefeated (12–0) and with the top ranking in a nationally recognized poll.
Under the conference-bowl selection alignments of the time, the Hurricanes and Huskies could not meet in a decisive title game because Washington was slotted into the Rose Bowl as the Pac-10 champions, and the other spot in the Rose Bowl was automatically given to the Big Ten champions (Michigan). The Rose Bowl's selection terms later thwarted potential title matchups of undefeated teams following the 1994 and 1997 seasons. Following the 1998 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) realignment, several Pac-10 and Big Ten teams were able to play in a BCS title game instead of being forced to play a non-title contender in the Rose Bowl; these include the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2002, 2006 and 2007, the USC Trojans in 2004 and 2005 and the Oregon Ducks in 2010.
Miami closed the 1991 season with a 22–0 shutout over No. 11 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, but their season was defined by a dramatic November victory over then No. 1 ranked and perennial rival Florida State. That game ended with the FSU place kicker missing a field goal, wide right, which would become a theme in the Florida State–Miami football rivalry; this game later took on the moniker "Wide Right I." Nebraska lost to both national champions in 1991 and finished at 9–2–1, ranked No. 15 in the AP poll.
Washington posted a 15-point victory at No. 9 Nebraska in September, a seven-point win at No. 7 California in October, and repeated as Pac-10 champions. They went on to win the Rose Bowl by 20 points over No. 4 Michigan, the Big Ten champions who featured Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard; it was Washington's second consecutive Rose Bowl win. Michigan finished at 10–2, ranked at No. 6 in both polls.
The Florida Gators captured their first official SEC title in school history (they had previously won the 1984 SEC title, but it was later vacated) in dominating fashion. Alabama finished second in the SEC with an 11–1 record, but were shutout 35–0 by the Gators. Florida's luck ran out in the Sugar Bowl, as No. 18 Notre Dame powered their way to a 39–28 win.2001 Oakland Raiders season
The 2001 Oakland Raiders season was the franchise's 32nd season in the National Football League, the 42nd overall, their sixth season since their move to Oakland, and the fourth year under head coach Jon Gruden, the last of his first stint as the team's head coach.
In the offseason, the Raiders acquired wide receiver Jerry Rice through free agency. Rice excelled with his new team, catching 83 passes for 1,139 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Raiders finished the season 10–6, finishing in first place in the AFC West for the second consecutive year. The Raiders qualified for the postseason, blowing out the New York Jets in the Wild Card round. In the Divisional round, the Raiders lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in a controversial finish. With a minute and 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Raiders leading 13–10, cornerback Charles Woodson appeared to force a fumble of Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady that was recovered by the Raiders. The play was reviewed by instant replay and the fumble was ruled an incomplete pass. The Patriots tied the game in the ensuing drive and then won in overtime. The game became known as the Tuck Rule Game.
It would be Jon Gruden's final season as head coach in his first stint with the Raiders. After the season he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Tampa Bay's first-round draft picks in 2002 and 2003, their second-round draft picks in 2004 and 2005, and $8 million in cash. The Raiders faced Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl the next year, and lost 21–48. Gruden would return to the Raiders as head coach 16 years later in 2018.2001 Outback Bowl
The 2001 edition to the Outback Bowl featured the South Carolina Gamecocks, and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
After a scoreless first quarter, South Carolina's kicker Jason Corse put the Gamecocks on the board with a 23-yard field goal, giving USC an early three to nothing lead. That score would hold until halftime, with both teams playing terrific defense.
In the third quarter, South Carolina's Ryan Brewer rushed seven yards for a touchdown, increasing the margin to ten to nothing. South Carolina's defense held again and got the ball back. South Carolina fumbled on that drive, and Ohio State's Mike Gurr recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, pulling OSU to within three points.
Early in the fourth quarter, quarterback Phil Petty found Ryan Brewer for a 28-yard touchdown pass, increasing the lead to seventeen to seven. With seven minutes left in the game, Brewer again scored from two yards out, making the final 24 to seven.
Ohio State's head coach, John Cooper, was fired following the game.2009 Liberty Bowl
The 2009 AutoZone Liberty Bowl is the fiftieth annual college football bowl game, and was played at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee on January 2, 2009 as part of the 2008-09 bowl season. The East Carolina Pirates accepted their invitation after their victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the 2008 Conference USA Championship Game. The Kentucky Wildcats of the Southeastern Conference also accepted their invitation.East Carolina entered the game with a record of 9-4 and had been ranked as high as #15 in the AP poll during the season; Kentucky was 6-6 and unranked.
The Kentucky Wildcats defeated the East Carolina Pirates by a score of 25-19.
East Carolina led through much of the game; late in the fourth quarter Kentucky defensive tackle Ventrell Jenkins picked up a fumble and returned it 56 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Jenkins was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 Liberty Bowl. The fumble recovery and return, marked by a vicious stiff arm Jenkins put on the opposing quarterback, received generous replay during bowl game broadcasts.Butt fumble
The butt fumble was a notable American football play from a National Football League (NFL) game played on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012, between the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
In front of the home crowd of 79,000 at MetLife Stadium and a primetime television audience of 20 million, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez collided with the rear end of his teammate Brandon Moore and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Patriots' Steve Gregory and returned for a touchdown. The play was the centerpiece of a disastrous sequence in the second quarter, as the Jets lost three fumbles and the Patriots scored three touchdowns—one each on offense, defense, and special teams—all in the span of 52 seconds of game time; in that quarter, the Jets held the ball for over 12 minutes (out of 15), but were outscored 35–3. The game and the so-called "butt fumble" in particular are remembered as the low point of the Jets' 2012 season. The butt fumble was ranked as the most embarrassing moment in Jets history by ESPN.Eric Ball (American football)
Eric Ball (born July 1, 1966) is a former professional American football player who played running back for seven seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders.Erik Howard
Erik Matthew Howard (born November 12, 1964 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts) is a former professional American football defensive tackle who played eleven seasons in the National Football League. He played nine seasons with the Giants, and was a member of the 1986 Giants team that won Super Bowl XXI and the 1990 Giants team that won Super Bowl XXV.
In the 1990 NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, Howard came up with one of the biggest plays of the 1990 season and arguably the biggest play in Giants history. With just under three minutes left in the game, the Giants trailed 13-12, and the 49ers had the game nearly wrapped up when Howard fought through a double-team block by 49ers' Guard Guy McIntyre and Center Jesse Sapolu to force running back Roger Craig to fumble the football after getting his helmet on the ball. Teammate Lawrence Taylor fought through two blocks by 49ers' TE Brent Jones and RB Tom Rathman to get to the spot along the line of scrimmage where Craig was located to recover the fumble as the ball was forced out of Craig's grasp. The Giants went on to win the game on Matt Bahr's field goal, kicked with 4 seconds remaining on the game clock. The Giant went on to win Super Bowl XXV over the Buffalo Bills seven days later.
Howard signed with the New York Jets as a free agent in 1994, and played with them for two years before deciding to retire. He currently resides in Marshall, Texas, with his wife Jennifer Howard and three children Jackson Howard, Katelynn Howard, and Keaton Howard.Fumble
A fumble in American and Canadian football occurs when a player who has possession and control of the ball loses it before being downed (tackled), scoring, or going out of bounds. By rule, it is any act other than passing, kicking, punting, or successful handing that results in loss of player possession. A fumble may be forced by a defensive player who either grabs or punches the ball or butts the ball with his helmet (a move called "tackling the ball"). A fumbled ball may be recovered and advanced by either team (except, in American football, after the two-minute warning in either half or 4th down, when the fumbling player is the only offensive player allowed to advance the ball, otherwise the ball is ruled dead at the spot of recovery if the ball bounces backwards or spotted at the point of the fumble if the ball travels forward). It is one of three events that can cause a turnover (the other two being an interception or on downs, though the latter does not count toward the team's total turnovers), where possession of the ball can change during play.
Under American rules a fumble may be confused with a muff. A muff occurs where a player drops a ball that he does not have possession of, such as while attempting to catch a lateral pass or improperly fielding a kicking play such as a punt (you cannot "fumble" a loose ball). Ball security is the ability of a player to maintain control over the football during play and thus avoid a fumble. Thus, losing possession of the ball via a fumble includes not only dropping the ball before being downed; but, also having a ball taken away, or “stripped” from the runner’s possession before being downed.Holy Roller (American football)
In American football, "the Holy Roller" (also known as The Immaculate Deception by San Diego Chargers fans) was a controversial game-winning play by the Oakland Raiders against the San Diego Chargers on September 10, 1978, at San Diego Stadium (now SDCCU Stadium) in San Diego, California. It was officially ruled as a forward fumble that was recovered by Raiders tight end Dave Casper in the end zone for a touchdown, ultimately giving Oakland the 21–20 win. However, there have been differing interpretations of how this play should have actually been ruled, and it has remained a controversial play for fans of both teams involved. The NFL amended its rules after the 1978 season in order to prevent a recurrence of the play.
Had the Chargers won this game, and had all other games that season remained with the same outcome, they would have made the playoffs taking the fifth seed over the Houston Oilers, by virtue of a tiebreaker. Both the Chargers and Oilers would have finished with a 10-6 record, but the Chargers' final game of the season was a victory over the Oilers, so the Chargers would have won the tiebreaker on a head-to-head matchup and clinched the fifth seed in the postseason. The final Houston-San Diego game therefore would have had direct playoff consequence, with the winner advancing to the playoffs and the loser being eliminated.Jeremiah Castille
Jeremiah Castille (born January 15, 1961 in Columbus, Georgia) is a former American professional football cornerback from the University of Alabama, Castille was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 1983 NFL Draft. He played in six seasons in the NFL from 1983–1988 for the Buccaneers and Denver Broncos. Castille's best season as a pro was in 1985, when he recorded 7 interceptions. He finished his career with 14 interceptions, which he returned for 207 yards. He also had 3 fumble recoveries.
Castille played college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide and was on the last team coached by Bear Bryant. Castille was a pallbearer at Bryant's funeral on January 28, 1983. Castille played for Alabama from 1979–1982, recording a school record 16 interceptions and making the College Football All-America Team in 1982. In the 1982 Liberty Bowl at the end of the season, Castille intercepted three passes in a 21–15 win and was selected as the game's MVP.
While playing for the Broncos during the 1987 AFC Championship Game versus the Cleveland Browns, Castille will forever be remembered for stripping the ball from Browns' running back Earnest Byner in a play called "The Fumble". He also recorded an interception in Super Bowl XXII, although this is not as widely remembered because his team ended up losing 42–10.
Two of Castille's sons, Tim and Simeon, also played in the NFL after playing college football at Alabama. His third son Caleb walked on at Alabama before quitting football to chase his dream of becoming a professional actor and starring as Jeremiah's teammate at Alabama, Tony Nathan in the movie Woodlawn.Jim Clack
James Thomas Clack (October 26, 1947 – April 7, 2006) was an American football guard in the National Football League. He played for 11 seasons between 1971 and 1981. He died of heart failure in 2006 after suffering from cancer for four years.
Clack graduated from Wake Forest University. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he was part of two Super Bowl championship teams in 1974 and 1975.
In April 1978, the Steelers traded Clack (along with wide receiver Ernie Pough) to the New York Giants in exchange for offensive lineman John Hicks. Clack spent four seasons with the Giants.
It was his snap that Joe Pisarcik fumbled away to Herman Edwards at the end of the November 19, 1978 game between the Giants and Edwards' Philadelphia Eagles at Giants Stadium, costing the team a certain victory in a play since known as "The Miracle at the Meadowlands" to Eagles' fans and "The Fumble" to Giants' fans (Clack had snapped it earlier than Pisarcik, still trying to get his team on board a controversial play call, expected due to the imminent expiration of the play clock).
Clack was inducted into the Wake Forest's hall of fame in 1981, and into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.Joe Pisarcik
Joseph Anthony Pisarcik (born July 2, 1952) is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League for eight seasons, from 1977 through 1984 after playing high school football at West Side Central Catholic H. S. (later Bishop O'Reilly, now closed), and college football at New Mexico State University. His first professional team was the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, where he played from 1974 to 1976.
He began his NFL career with the New York Giants and is best remembered for his role in the November 19, 1978, game where the Giants, ahead 17–12 with only seconds to play and their opponent out of time-outs, lost after his handoff (a play called by offensive coordinator Bob Gibson over Pisarcik's objections) to Larry Csonka was fumbled and returned for a touchdown by Herman Edwards of the Philadelphia Eagles. The play has since been referred to as "The Fumble" by Giants fans and "The Miracle at the Meadowlands" by Eagles fans, and it was instrumental in making the Quarterback kneel (also known as "taking a knee") a routine play for running down the clock at the end of a game.
Pisarcik signed with the Eagles in 1980 after the Giants had released him, primarily serving as the backup to QB Ron Jaworski. He stayed with the Eagles until retiring after the 1984 season.
A resident of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, Pisarcik has five children: Kristin, Lindsey, Jake, Joseph and Katie. Jake is an offensive lineman for the University of Oregon.
Pisarcik served as the CEO of the NFL Alumni Association in Newark but retired in April 2017 following accusations of sexual harassment "Miracle at the Meadowlands
The Miracle at the Meadowlands was a fumble recovery by cornerback Herman Edwards that he returned for a touchdown at the end of a November 19, 1978, National Football League (NFL) game against the New York Giants in Giants Stadium. It is considered miraculous because the Giants were ahead and could easily have run out the final seconds; they had the ball and the Eagles had no timeouts left. Everyone watching expected quarterback Joe Pisarcik to take one more snap and kneel with the ball, thus running out the clock and preserving a 17–12 Giants upset. Instead, he botched an attempt to hand off the football to fullback Larry Csonka. Edwards picked up the dropped ball and ran 26 yards for the winning score.
The term is primarily used by Eagles fans and sportscasters. Giants fans refer to the play simply as "The Fumble", though that name is generally used outside of New York for a play in the 1987 AFC Championship Game between the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos.
For the Eagles, the victory snatched from the jaws of certain defeat served as a morale boost, leading that season to a playoff berth and, two seasons later, the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance. To Giants fans, it was the nadir of a long era of mediocrity, but the aftermath would lead to major changes that proved beneficial for the franchise in the long run.Red Right 88
Red Right 88 was the Cleveland Browns passing play that was called during the January 4, 1981 American Football Conference divisional playoff game against the Oakland Raiders; in the years since, the term has been used to refer to the game itself and its ending.The Block (basketball)
In basketball, The Block refers to a defensive play in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. With less than two minutes remaining in the deciding game of the championship series, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James chased down Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala and blocked Iguodala's layup attempt, ensuring the game remained tied. It is considered to be one of James' greatest clutch moments, and his performances across the series is considered to be the best in NBA history.The name echoes a series of bitter disappointments during Cleveland's 52-year championship drought, including The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The Catch, and James' own 2010 televised special, The Decision. Unlike these other events, however, "The Block" was in Cleveland's favor, and helped the Cavaliers win the city's first major sports title since 1964.Golden State arrived to the NBA Finals as the 1st seed in the Western Conference, having broken the record for most wins ever in a regular season. Cleveland, meanwhile, had a 57–25 regular season record, and finished atop the Eastern Conference. However, their record was only the third-best in the league. Furthermore, the Warriors initially took a 3–1 series lead, before the Cavaliers managed to win the next two games to arrive at a decisive Game 7. Given these factors, the Cavaliers' victory is considered one of the most exciting in NBA history, and in retrospect, it is considered one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.The Shot
The Shot is the series-winning basket hit by Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round on May 7 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Richfield Coliseum. It is considered to be one of Jordan's greatest clutch moments, and in the game itself, a classic. The Cavaliers swept the regular season games against the Bulls 6–0, including a 90–84 victory in the final regular season game, in which they rested their four best players (Ron Harper, Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance).
Cleveland was the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference and Chicago was the 6th. Cleveland had a 57–25 regular season record, tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the second-best record in the league behind the Detroit Pistons. Chicago's regular season record that year was 47–35, which although it placed them fifth in their division, was good enough for the sixth playoff seed in the conference. Given both these factors, the Bulls' playoff victory was considered a major upset. In retrospect, it symbolized the beginning of a dynasty of Michael Jordan's Bulls. It was the first of many game-winning shots that Jordan made in his playoff career. In Game 4 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Jordan made another series-winning buzzer-beater on the same end of the court in the same building, to give the Bulls their 4th playoff series win over the Cavaliers, that time a 4-game sweep.
The Shot is one of many dramatic sports moments to come at a Cleveland team's expense—Red Right 88, The Catch, Off Nagy's Glove, The Drive, The Fumble, The Decision, The Move, and the Curse of Rocky Colavito.
|Culture and lore|
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Championship seasons in bold
|Division championships (15)|
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|Current league affiliations|
|Former league affiliation|
Championship seasons in bold
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