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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

PRO FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

PRO FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

PRO FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES have been played in Cleveland 9 times, 6 times for the Natl. Football League crown (1945, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1964, and 1968), and 3 times for the All-America Football Conference championship (1946, 1948, and 1949). Of the 9 title games Cleveland has hosted, the Cleveland team has triumphed in 7: 1945, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1954, and 1964. The CLEVELAND BULLDOGS brought the first NFL title to Cleveland in 1924, but that was before the league began to play a championship game. Cleveland first hosted an NFL title game in Cleveland Stadium on 16 Dec. 1945; the CLEVELAND RAMS, led by quarterback BOB WATERFIELD, defeated the Washington Redskins 15-14 before 32,178 spectators in zero-degree weather. The victory earned $1,468 for each Cleveland player. The CLEVELAND BROWNS earned their first professional title on 22 Dec. 1946; 40,469 fans watched the Browns defeat the New York Yankees to win the AAFC championship. Cleveland hosted 2 more AAFC title games. On 19 Dec. 1948, the Browns, with 3 touchdowns and 133 yards rushing from Marion Motley, dominated the Buffalo Bills, 49-7, in front of 22,981 fans; and on 11 Dec. 1949, 22,550 fans watched the Browns beat the San Francisco 49ers, 21-7.

The NFL title game returned to Cleveland Stadium on 24 Dec. 1950. The Los Angeles Rams, who had moved from Cleveland in 1946 (see CLEVELAND RAMS), returned to the Stadium to play the Browns for the title. More than 33,000 fans saw one of the greatest games in Browns history, as Lou Groza gave the Browns a dramatic 30-28 victory with a 16-yard field goal with 28 seconds remaining in the game. The Browns won the title at home again on 26 Dec. 1954; 43,827 fans watched Otto Graham score 3 touchdowns and pass for 3 others as the Browns avenged 2 previous title losses to the Detroit Lions with a 56-10 victory. Ten years later, on 27 Dec. 1964, the Browns played excellent defense to shut out the Baltimore Colts, 27-0, and won the championship in front of 79,544 spectators. Each Browns player received $8,052 for that victory. Only twice have Cleveland teams lost championship games in Cleveland. On 28 Dec. 1952, 50,934 fans watched the Detroit Lions beat the Browns 17-7; and on 29 Dec. 1968, 78,410 spectators saw the Baltimore Colts avenge their 1964 loss to the Browns by blanking the Browns 34-0.


Eckhouse, Morris. Day by Day in Cleveland Browns History (1984).

Levy, Bill. Sam, Sipe and Co. (1980).