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The best player to wear No. 10 in Browns history

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On one January afternoon, quarterback Kelly Holcomb almost made dreams come true.

Indianapolis Colts vs Cleveland Browns

Editor’s note: The NFL is currently in a quiet period that is more quiet than usual. To help fill in that space, we are running a series to determine the best player to wear each jersey number in Cleveland Browns history. Today, we select the best player to wear uniform No. 10.

The Cleveland Browns have had more than their share of strange stories at the quarterback position since returning to the NFL in 1999.

But none may be more unbeliavable than that of quarterback Kelly Holcomb, the best player to wear No. 10 in franchise history.

Holcomb entered the NFL in 1995 as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was cut four different times by the Buccaneers before heading to Europe to play for the Barcelona Dragons. He eventually made his way back to the NFL after signing with the Indianapolis Colts, where he appeared in five games (all in 1997) before being released following the 2000 season. (In their defense, the Colts had selected quarterback Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft and needed to “see what they had” so playing time was scarce.)

Holcomb found a lifeline in Cleveland, where Bruce Arians had taken over as offensive coordinator after spending the previous three seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Colts. The Browns signed Holcomb in 2001 as a backup to quarterback Tim Couch, but it wasn’t until the next season that Holcomb established his place in team history.

With Couch out with an injured elbow, Holcomb opened the 2002 season as the starter, throwing for 326 yards and three touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game the Browns would have won if not for linebacker Dwayne Rudd. Holcomb picked up the win the following week against the Cincinnati Bengals before returning to the bench as Couch returned to action.

Couch was knocked out of a Week 5 game against the Baltimore Ravens with a concussion, and Holcomb helped rally the Browns to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns but ultimately came up short in a home loss.

Holcomb came to the rescue again in the season finale against the Atlanta Falcons after Couch broke his leg. Holcomb rallied the Browns for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to secure a playoff spot.

The following week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Holcomb put on one of the most memorable playoff performances as he threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns. If not for a dropped pass by wide receiver Dennis Northcutt with 2:42 left in the game, and head coach Butch Davis’ general incompetence in the second half when he forced the team into a prevent defense, the Browns would have pulled out the win.

That January day in Pittsburgh turned out to be the highpoint of Holcomb’s tenure with the Browns.

Holcomb opened up the 2003 season as the starter, but suffered an infamous “teeny-tiny fracture” of his right fibula during a Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which sidelined him for a month.

Davis would go back and forth between Holcomb and Couch that season with each quarterback starting eight mostly ineffective games, although Holcomb had one last hurrah when he threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-6 victory over the Arizona Cardinals that November.

Holcomb was back on the bench in 2004, making relief appearances in Week 9 and Week 10, and starts in Week 11 and the season-finale against the Houston Texans, which was Holcomb’s last appearance in a Cleveland uniform.

He would play 10 games for the Buffalo Bills in 2005 and three games with the Minnesota Vikings in 2007 before retiring.

Holcomb may never have been able to duplicate the success of that January day against the Steelers, and his overall numbers with the team - 3,438 passing yards (17th all-time), 26 touchdowns (12th all-time) and 21 interceptions — are very pedestrian.

But that one playoff moment alone is enough to elevate him to the position as the best to ever wear uniform No. 10 in franchise history.

Honorable mention: Quarterback David Mays, who played for the Browns from 1976 through 1977. Mays came off the bench on October 10, 1976, to lead the Browns to a comeback victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Any victory over the Steelers is worthy of an honorable mention.

Poll

Who is the best player to wear No. 10 in Browns history?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    John Borton
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Sammie Coates
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Armanti Edwards
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Tom Flick
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Chris Gartner
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Robert Griffin III
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Garrett Hartley
    (0 votes)
  • 64%
    Kelly Holcomb
    (216 votes)
  • 0%
    Dave Jacobs
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Darious Jennings
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Dave Mays
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Jordan Norwood
    (9 votes)
  • 10%
    Mike Pagel
    (34 votes)
  • 9%
    Brady Quinn
    (31 votes)
  • 0%
    Kyle Richardson
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Taywan Taylor
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Eric Zeier
    (13 votes)
336 votes total Vote Now