On Dec. 16, 2001, the Cleveland Browns were at 6-6, with an outside shot at making the playoffs. They were still such a new franchise following the old Browns leaving for Baltimore that Tim Couch, their first-ever draft pick, was still their starting quarterback. Down 15-10 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Couch was leading one last drive to try and score a touchdown to preserve Cleveland’s dwindling postseason hopes.
On fourth down, wide receiver Quincy Morgan made what appeared to be a juggling catch — or at least, it was called a catch on the field. Knowing the play was suspect, the Browns rushed to the line and successfully spiked the ball, ensuring the play wouldn’t be reviewed. Except this is the Browns, so inconceivably bad things are destined to happen.
The referees, led by crew chief Terry McAulay, still blew the whistle to review, and eventually overturn, Morgan’s reception. It was an egregious screw-up, and it set off the frustrated fans in attendance, who proceeded to hurl bottles and cups onto the field for minutes. It prompted total chaos, with players and officials milling about in the middle of the field to step out of range of the projectiles. Eventually, everyone fled the field, and McAulay declared the game over with 48 seconds remaining on the clock.