Note: This was this year’s April Fools post.
A few weeks ago, the NFL offered complimentary access to NFL Game Rewind through the end of May 2020 to help pass the time with the ongoing world situation. The access includes watching games over the past 15 years, special features, interviews, etc. It has given many fans the opportunity to re-live favorite moments; but this past week, something new came to light regarding the Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens game on November 18, 2007.
First, let’s remind everyone about that famous moment, when K Phil Dawson’s field goal to tie the game was ruled “no good,” before it was reversed by officials:
The 33-30 overtime win gave the Browns a much-needed victory to improve their record to 6-4 and stay in playoff contention. Cleveland finished the season with a 10-6 record — the same as the Steelers, but Pittsburgh swept the season series to capture the AFC North. The Browns were hoping for for the Titans to lose to the Colts in the final game of the season, because it would have given Cleveland the final wildcard spot. However, the Colts rested their starters, allowing Tennessee to secure the final playoff spot.
Here is the new wrinkle to the story, per an interview with NFL Films following the season: former Ravens owner Art Modell was so incensed with the unprecedented way in which Cleveland’s field goal was overturned over his team, that had Cleveland “won” the final wildcard spot, he was going to petition the NFL to overturn the midseason result. Although Modell had sold the team by then, he still maintained a 1% share in ownership after 2004.
“The Ravens were never happy about the result of that game,” said Alex Turner of NFL Films. “With Baltimore out of playoff contention [they finished with a 5-11 record], Modell was prepared to drop it. When he saw that outcome could have helped his former franchise make the playoffs, though, he was ready to leverage every technicality in the rulebook to get the win overturned, due to the players leaving the field and what he feels was illegal use of replay review.”
I imagine if social media was as big back then as it was now, that attempt would have leaked in the media. I can’t fathom the NFL ever overturning a win after the fact — to compare, we just got over a baseball scandal with the Houston Astros, and neither their victories nor their World Series title were stripped away from them. Still, I imagine this adds to Browns fans’ disdain for Modell all-the-more.
You can watch the NFL Films segment on their site, which is about 5 minutes in length, including interviews from players on each team and whether they thought the game should've stood as is.