Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The word went out tonight from Municipal Stadium that there is a new power to reckon with in the AFC Central after the Cleveland Browns rallied and rallied again, and finally beat the New England Patriots in a sudden-death period, 30-27.
It was a 35-yard field goal by Don Cockroft with 4 minutes 45 seconds gone in overtime that sent a delirious crowd of 76,418 home at 12:45 a.m. with the belief that the Browns are back on top to stay.
It was running back Greg Pruitt over the long haul that kept the Browns going. He carried the ball 26 times for 151 yards, caught four passes for 51 yards, and threw a pass ont he option play to running black Brian Duncan for five yards and Cleveland's first touchdown.
Brian Sipe showed the leadership at quarterback that kept the Browns challenging and finally did in the Patriots.
In the overtime, Cleveland won the coin toss, elected to receive and Sipe relied on Pruitt to carry the ball for 11 yards in four carries before attempting his first pass.
That went 12 yards to tight end Gary Parris and took the Browns into New England territory at the 44.
Sipe went back to Pruitt with a pitchout for three yards and then, after offsetting penalties, achieved field goal range with a 22-yard throw to wide receiver Dave Logan.
With the ball on the New England 19, Sipe used a one-yard plunge by Cleo Miller to position the ball better and, fearful of handling the ball too much and risking a fumble, decided to go for the field goal attempt by Crockroft on second and nine.
Cleveland called a timeout to get itself properly set up and then New England did, obviously to try to rattle Cockroft. It didn't work and the Browns now are tied for the AFC Central lead with a 2-0 record.
The Patriots were favorites to challenge for the AFC East title. Their schedule was supposed to be the easiest in the whole National Football League, but now they are 1-1.
The score was tied three times tonight before the game was settled.
Cockroft made good on his second of three field goal attempts, from 37 yards, with only 55 seconds remaining in regulation time.
But Steve Grogan brought the Patriots back once more, mostly on a 28-yard pass to tight end Russ Francis that set up the ball on the Cleveland 17 with one second remaining, at the end of an 81-yard drive.
John Smith made his second field goal, from 28 yards, to prove his mettle under pressure and the overtime became necessary.
In delivering the triumph. Sipe connected on 18 of 25 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, 26 yards to tight end Parris and eight yards to Pruitt.
Grogan hit on 15 of 23 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, eight yards to fullback Sam Cunningham and six yards to tight end Francis.
Cunningham was the workhorse for the Patriots, gaining 70 yards in 18 carries and catching seven passes for 52 yards.
The going figures to be a bit easier for the Patriots on Sunday when they play the Jets at New York. But the Browns are hosts to Pittsburgh and the next week they play Oakland.