The Bottlegate game is a game that will live on in Cleveland Browns history long after we're all gone. For those of you unfamiliar with one of the most Cleveland Browns moments of all-time, let's take a walk down memory lane.
The date was December 16, 2001. The 6-6 Browns were hosting the 4-8 Jacksonville Jaguars and had their eye on a playoff spot after six consecutive years of missing out on the postseason.
It was a longshot, but following a 3-13 season fans were hopeful if they won out they would get a taste of life after the regular season. Like many of the plans made by Browns fans over the years this plan failed as well.
The Browns were driving late in the game, trailing 15-10, when controversy struck and ruined any hope of postseason glory. Cleveland had the ball on the Jaguars 12 yard line facing a 4th and 2. The game came down to this play. If they got the first down they were one step closer to a game winning touchdown. If they failed, the game was over.
Browns quarterback Tim Couch hit wide receiver Quincy Morgan for a three yard gain and a first down. The game winning drive was still on and the playoffs could still be seen in the far-off distance. The Browns hurried to the line with 50 seconds left in the game to snap the ball and spike it to kill the clock.
Couch did spike the ball, but appeared to double-pump the ball before doing so. That would be intentional grounding and a penalty. The officials huddled after the play to discuss what had just taken place.
Just Like That Bottlegate Was Born
Instead of penalizing Couch for the double-pump, the officials announced that the replay booth had buzzed them for a review of the 4th down catch by Morgan. He appeared to have bobbled the ball as he went to the ground on the play.
The review took place despite the fact that another play had been run and by rule the 4th down catch was no longer reviewable. Officials say the booth buzzed them for a review prior to the spike play.
The booth review overturned the 4th down catch and turned a Browns first down into a turnover on downs. This did not sit well with Browns fans and that's when the boos and beer bottles started raining down on the field.
After the crowd had settled down referee Terry McAulay handed out an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to the crowd and did something that had never been done before. He declared that the game was over with 48 seconds left on the clock.
A Bottlegate Legend Has Been Found
This led to more bottles being thrown as the teams and officials made their way off of the field. The NFL called the officials and after more than 20 minutes had passed the teams returned to the field for two kneel-down plays by the Jaguars.
The Browns lost the game, finished the season 7-9, and missed out on the playoffs for the seventh straight year. But it wasn't all bad news for the loveable loser franchise.
They have a game nobody will forget and legends like the Cleveland version of Peter Griffin were born as result. More than 20 years later Browns fans have a new chapter to add to the story.
According to the Facebook page Angry Browns Fans, the Bottlegate legend pictured above has been found. The man's son slid into the page's DMs. The legendary fan is still a Browns fan, although he no longer resembles Peter Griffin.