The Browns looked as if they were about finished this afternoon, trailing the Miami Dolphins 16-10 and 80 yards from the endzone with three minutes to go, but Colt McCoy completed nine passes on a final drive that took up all but 43 seconds, hitting Mohamed Massaquoi from 14 yards out for the go-ahed score (after the extra point), and Cleveland held on when Mike Adams intercepted Chad Henne on fourth down with 13 seconds left to win 17-16.
With the victory the Browns moved to 2-1 on the season for their best start since 2002 -- the last season that Cleveland made the playoffs in the NFL.
Cleveland went into this game behind the 8-ball when Peyton Hillis was unable to go with strep throat, and a combination of a faltering Browns’ passing game and less than 100 yards on the ground had Miami in a position to win before the late McCoy heroics.
Miami led 7-0, 10-7, and 16-10, but fell to 0-3 on the season.
The Dolphins scored first when Henne hit Daniel Thomas for a 10-yard score with 8:09 left in the first quarter, but Cleveland answered with 7:16 left in the half on a McCoy to Joshua Cribbs 33-yarder to make it 10-7.
Miami converted on a 23-yard Dan Carpenter field goal just before halftime to head to the locker room with a 10-7 lead.
The Browns tied it again, this time at 10-10, on a 30-yard field goal from Phil Dawson with 10:37 left in the third quarter, but Carpenter hit from 41 yards with 2:29 left in the quarter and again from 38 yards with 3:23 left in the contest to extend the Miami lead to 16-10.
The ensuing kickoff and touchback set the Browns up on their own 20.
McCoy hit Massaquoi for 12 yards, then converted a pair of short passes to Greg Little for another first down. Montario Hardesty had a reception for a yard, then Little gained 10 more for another first down, and the Browns had the ball at the Miami 43.
Things got dicey then when a 6-yard catch by Ben Watson was sandwiched between two incompletions, and the Browns faced 4th-and-4 at the Miami 37.
But McCoy came through, hitting Massaquoi for 10 yards and keeping the drive — and the game — alive.
Two incompletions followed before Miami was penalized five yards for offsides, making it 3rd-and-5 on the 22.
McCoy hit Evan Moore for eight yards to the 14, and then on the next play struck paydirt with the 14-yarder. Dawson’s PAT made it 17-16.
But the Browns were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for excessive celebration after Massaquoi's TD, so Cleveland was forced to kick off from their 20, and the ensuing kick was returned 27 yards, and a 15-yard penalty was tacked on for a horse-collar tackle, and Miami was in business on the Cleveland 47.
But Henne threw three straight incompletions before being picked off by Adams, and all was well that ended well for the Browns’ faithful.
McCoy finished 19-of-39 for 210 yards, but accounted for 75 of those yards on the last drive. Colt ended with two TDs and one interception. Henne, meanwhile, finished 19-of-29 for 255 yards, a TD and that costly last-minute pick.
Hardesty did well in Hillis’s absence, picking up 67 yards on 14 carries, while Thomas tallied 95 yards on 23 carries for Miami.
Seven different receivers got in on the action this afternoon, with Watson leading with five catches for 64 yards.
Miami dominated in time of possession, holding the ball for 37:51, and won the first down battle 21-19 and in total yardage 369-280.
But the only numbers that mattered, when all was said and done, were a 17 and a 16.
The Browns will now entertain the Tennessee Titans next Sunday at 1:00, while the Dolphins head to San Diego.