Today in Patriots History: January 1 January 1, 1995: Cleveland Browns 20, New England Patriots 13 Wild Card Playoff Game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium Bill Parcells met Bill Belichick in the first round of the 1994 playoffs. The protege had crafted a superior defense and came out on top, thanks in part to three turnovers. Both clubs were culminating a rebuilding process. The Browns had gone through four straight losing seasons in the aftermath of The Drive and The Fumble playoff losses to Denver. The Patriots had five gone through five consecutive losing seasons, relocation rumors and embarrassing off field distractions. Vinny Testaverde had replaced fan favorite Bernie Kosar at quarterback for the Browns. Leroy Hoard and Eric Metcalf were Pro Bowlers in the backfield. The defense was ferocious, with four more Pro Bowl players. The Cleveland defense led the NFL with a mere 12.8 points allowed per game. This was the second season for Parcells as head coach in New England. 22-year old Drew Bledsoe was named to the Pro Bowl after passing for 4,555 yards and 25 touchdowns. All Pro TE Ben Coates was clutch all season, catching 96 passes for 1,174 yards. Michael Timpson and Vincent Brisby both had over 900 yards receiving as well. The 1994 Patriots had a deficient running game though. Marion Butts rushed for 703 yards and eight touchdowns, but averaged only 2.9 yards per carry. Parcells inexplicably decided to bench Butts and insert practice squad RB Corey Croom into the starting lineup for this game. Croom had the same problems Butts did: no running lanes and being hit in the backfield behind a mediocre offensive line. The Patriot defense led the NFL with 40 takeaways, driving the team to a seven-game winning streak after a 3-6 start. Early in the second quarter Willie McGinest sacked Testaverde for a 10-yard loss. That forced a punt which gave the pats the ball at the 40. 18-yard pass completions to Brisby and Coates put the ball in the red zone. Bledose completed a 13-yard TD pass to Leroy Thompson, and the Pats were up 7-3. Pat O'Neill's ensuing kickoff was short and returned to midfield. Testaverde scrambled twice for 14 yards and eventually threw a 5-yard TD to give Cleveland a 10-7 lead. Matt Bahr kicked a short field goal with 34 seconds left, but on first down Testaverde completed a 36-yard pass to Michael Jackson. Mike Pitts blocked Cleveland's last second field goal attempt, and it was 10-10 at halftime. The Browns took the opening drive deep into New England territory, but the Patriot defense held. Harold Barnett forced an Eric Metcalf fumble and Pitts recovered to prevent any scoring. However the Pats went 3-and-out, and Cleveland then scored on a six-minute drive to take a 17-10 lead. Early in the game a Bledsoe pass for Coates was intercepted by Louis Riddick. After an exchange of punts, Bledsoe was picked off on the first play from scrimmage, this time by Pepper Johnson. In both instances the Patriot defense responded to the challenge, with the Browns missing a 49-yard field goal this time. Two plays later though Bledose threw his third interception of the game. Cleveland ran the ball on all but one play, with Ernest Byner rushing for most of the yardage. Matt Stover kicked a 21-yard field goal and the Browns were up by two scores with only 3:36 to play, 20-10. Bledsoe connected on three straight passes to give the Pats a first down at the Cleveland 43. The drive stalled at the 15 yard line, and Bahr's field goal made it 20-13. The first onside kick attempt went out of bounds for a five-yard penalty. The Patriots were able to recover the second attempt though, as Patriot fans rejoiced. Bledsoe completed passes to Coates and Thompson, and the Pats had a first down at 48-yard line. Belichick's defense was up to the task though, forcing four straight incomplete passes to hang on for the victory. The Browns lost the next game at Pittsburgh to end their season. Belichick and Parcells met again in week one the following season, with Parcells and the Patriots winning 17-14 in Foxboro. Cleveland won their next three games and at that time were considered to be one of, if not the best team in the NFL. Art Modell then announced the Browns were moving to Baltimore, and they won just two more games the rest of the year. Parcells' Patriots dropped to 6-10 in '95, but did make it the Super Bowl a year later.