Monday, December 30, 2013

1957 NFL Championship


It's time to finish the Christmas cards, so I'm going to watch the Dec. 29, 1957, NFL championship as I do so. I don't know who wins. 

Comments flow!

31 comments:

  1. Here's hoping Matthew will fix the video width. I didn't grab it from YouTube, so I don't know how to adjust it.

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  2. Oh, man, and now the daughter is tired of doing what she was doing, so now we're off to do something else. I'll have to watch this later.

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    1. I read Jerry Izenberg's epic "Championship: The History of the NFL Title Game," which is one of the five greatest non-fiction books of all time, so I knew how this comes out.

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  3. Matthew almost immediately emailed me the corrected code--mad props to "The Mighty Oak." Meanwhile, apologies for the delay in correcting; I was busy watching Oh, God, which my wife and daughter gave me on VHS for Christmas!

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    1. It's very good, especially when you consider that neither George Burns nor John Denver are really actors in the normal sense of that term.

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  5. The Lions and Browns had played for the 1952, '53 and '54 NFL championships, with Detroit winning the first two and Cleveland the third. Here these teams are again.

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    1. And they're right across Lake Erie from each other. Jerry Izenberg makes a big deal of the rivalry between these two towns and teams.

      The Lions were the first team to have any success against Paul Brown.

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    2. I take that back. The Rams beat Cleveland in 1951.

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  6. Cleveland's quarterback in this game is a former Big Ten passing champion from Illinois, Tommy O'Connell (O'Donnell?), and not Otto Graham. I didn't have it that Graham had already retired by 1957.

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    1. OK, here's what happened.

      The Browns joined the league in 1950, coming over from the All-American Football Conference. In their very first game, they beat the Eagles, who were the two-time defending NFL Champions. Then they won the NFL championship themselves, beating the Rams 30-28 in the title game.

      In 1951, the Rams got their revenge, beating Cleveland 24-17 for the title.

      In 1952, the Lions came to Cleveland and beat the Browns 17-7 for the title.

      In 1953, Cleveland played for the title for the fourth year in a row, but lost at Detroit by the score of 17-16. So the Browns had now lost the title game three times in a row.

      In 1954, Graham (who turned 33 in December) announced his plans to retire after the season. The Browns went 9-3 to return to the title game -- but lost to Detroit in the last game of the regular season. The next week, however, Cleveland finally got its revenge -- destroying the Lions 56-10.

      The next year, Paul Brown convinced Graham to play one more year. Sure enough, the Browns returned to the NFL title game for the sixth year in a row -- a feat that has never been matched. Graham went out a winner with a 38-14 thumping of the Los Angeles Rams in his final game. The L.A. crowd gave Graham a standing ovation when he left the field for the last time.

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    2. The retirement of Graham paved the way for the Giants to become the great powers in the East. They would play for the title in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, and 1963. Their success, combined with the departure of the Dodgers and the baseball Giants from New York, would play a major role in the rise of the NFL during this period.

      So this Browns/Lions showdown in 1957 would be the last of its kind -- the last of the old Detroit/Cleveland battles, the last title game played before the Giants/Colts overtime game of 1958 would really put the NFL on the map. It would be the last time Paul Brown coached in the title game, and the last time Detroit played for the title. The whole NFL world is about to change.

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  7. OK, Detroit takes the first lead at 3-0 in this game. I like how Ray Scott says that Jim Martin is on to "apparently kick a field goal."

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    1. Back then, there usually were no "playoffs" in the NFL. The two conference champions simply met for the title. But in 1957, the Lions and 49ers tied for the Western Conference title with identical records of 8-4. So Detroit went to San Francisco for a playoff. At halftime, the 49ers led 24-7 and appeared certain to host the title game the next week. But the Lions made an amazing comeback and won the game 31-27. So they got to host Cleveland instead.

      The 49ers would not play for the NFL championship until Super Bowl XVI, 24 seasons later.

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  8. Well, there you go ... O'Connell/O'Donnell throws an interception in Cleveland's own territory on the Browns' second possession, and now the Lions are ahead, 10-0.

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  9. Oh, my gosh, now Cleveland has fumbled the kickoff, and Detroit is about to score again.

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  10. There's a minute to go in the first period, and Detroit leads, 17-0, at Briggs Stadium.

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  11. Jim Brown runs around left end and through the Detroit defense for a lengthy touchdown run, and Cleveland is back to within 17-7 early in the second quarter.

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    1. Jim Brown was the MVP of the NFL in 1957.

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  12. OK, Ray Scott knew of which he spoke. The Lions run a fake field goal in which Tobin Rote, the holder and the regular starting quarterback, rolls out and throws behind the Cleveland defense for a score. It's now 24-7, Lions.

    On the sidelines, the Detroit players are wearing those giant, long ponchos with "DETROIT LIONS" printed in all-caps on the back. I love those ponchos.

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  13. Wow ... what a sequence. Cleveland tries a halfback pass that's intercepted. Then Detroit completes a pass to a tight end, but he fumbles and the ball bounds to within the Cleveland 10 where a Brown recovers. But then O'Connell/O'Donnell/not Otto Graham attempts a cross-field pass, and that's intercepted and returned for a score. Following an ad for Pontiac, we get the Detroit extra point, and the Lions' lead is up to 31-7 with just a couple of minutes to go before halftime.

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    1. Final numbers for Tommy O'Connell on the day: 4-8 for 61 yards. No touchdowns. 2 interceptions.

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  14. Cleveland has thrown 12 passes and completed four. Four Browns passes have been intercepted--but only two of the throws were by O'Connell/O'Donnell. Two other quarterbacks have thrown one quarterback each.

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  15. Paul Brown has switched to Milt Plum as his quarterback, and he has Cleveland on the move at the outset of the second half. Most of the handoffs are going to Preston Carpenter, so maybe Jim Brown got hurt?

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    1. Brown was not effective in this game: 20 carries for 69 yards.

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  16. No, Brown is still playing--but it is Carpenter (who now Ray Scott is calling Lew) who runs in for a score to cut the Detroit advantage to 31-14.

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    1. The Browns had Preston Carpenter (a receiver) and Lew Carpenter (a running back). Lew carried 14 times for 82 yards in this game.

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  17. Detroit follows Cleveland's 10-play scoring drive with a single-pass, 78-yard possession, and now the Lions' lead is 38-14.

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  18. Well, that never let up ... 59-14 is the final.

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    1. George Wilson was the coach of the Lions, and he was the NFL's coach of the year for 1957. He would stay at Detroit until 1964, but would never return to the NFL title game. He would then become the first coach of the Miami Dolphins, but would be replaced after four losing seasons. His all-time record as a coach was 68-84.

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