Belichick's team was monstrous on defense, surrendering the fewest points in the league (204) behind four Pro-Bowlers: Pepper Johnson, Michael Dean Perry, Rob Burnett, and Eric Turner, who passed away in 2000.
But in three games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it wasn't enough.
The Browns managed to hold their divisional rivals to 17 points in each of their regular season meetings, but Cleveland lost both times, scoring 10 points in Week 2 and seven points in Week 16. Then when the teams met in the second round of the playoffs, the wheels fell off Belichick's defensive juggernaut.
Aided by two Vinny Testaverde interceptions in the second quarter—one in the red zone—the Steelers crushed the Browns 29-9.
Belichick was so incensed that he was among several Browns players and coaches that refused to shake hands with their opponents after the loss.
Peep the 0:49 mark of this video.
"You know those guys, man, I don't understand why they wouldn't shake our hands," said Steelers tight end Eric Green, who caught the game's first touchdown. "You know, some of them did. And, you know, some of them just didn't show any class. I didn't think that was very sportsmanlike of them."
The Browns haven't had an 11-win season since. Maybe it's a curse.