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On This Date in Sports December 26, 1954: When the Browns Dominated

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Cleveland Browns crush the Detroit Lions 56-10 in the NFL Championship Game. It was the third straight season the teams met in the title game with Detroit winning in 1952 and 1953. Bobby Layne had a disastrous game, throwing six interceptions, while Otto Graham had three touchdown passes and three touchdown runs for Cleveland. The teams met in four NFL Championship Games in the 50s. This was the only win by the Browns.

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The two NFL powers of the 1950s were the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. Coached by Paul Brown, the Browns carried over their success from the AAFC into the NFL. After winning the AAFC all four seasons, the Browns won the 1950 NFL Championship in their first season. The Browns would reach the NFL Championship Game again the following three seasons but lost to the Los Angeles Rams 24-17 in 1951. The Browns lost the 1952 Championship Game to the Detroit Lions 17-7 the teams met again in 1953, with the Lions winning again 17-16. The Browns again won the NFL’s Eastern Conference in 1954 with a record of 9-3.

Seeking a third straight NFL Championship, the Lions again won the West, posting a record of 9-2-1. The teams met just one week earlier as their Week 2 match up rescheduled due to the World Series in Cleveland as played on December 19th. The Lions won the game 14-10, ending Cleveland’s eight-game winning streak. Both teams knew there were playing each other again a week later as they had their clinched the Conference titles.

The Lions went into the NFL Championship at Cleveland Municipal Stadium as a slight favorite. Setting the tone early, Bill Bowman had a 50-yard run for Detroit but fumbled; it was the first of seven turnovers for Lions. The Browns did not take advantage of the turnover as Otto Graham was picked off, with the Lions getting on the scoreboard firth a with a field goal by Doak Walker. The Browns would take the lead on the next possession as Ray Renfro caught a 35-yard pass from Graham. The Browns would quickly make it 14-3 as Bobby Layne was picked off by Don Paul. setting up Otto Graham to connect with Darrell Brewster on an eight-yard score.

The Browns continued to roll in the second quarter as Otto Graham made it 21-3 on a one-yard sneak. Bill Bowman got a five-yard run for Detroit to get the Lions back in the game. However, when Bobby Layne fumbled on the next possession, the Browns began to pull away as Graham had a five-yard touchdown run. A Walt Michaels interception set up another Browns’ score, as Renfro’s 35-yard reception gave Cleveland a 35-10 at the half.

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The Browns went down the field at the start of the third quarter to make it 42-10 as Graham had his third rushing touchdown with a one-yard sneak. The Browns would then turn an interception by Kenny Konz into more points as Curly Morrison had a 12-yard run to make it 49-10. Chet Hanulak would score in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring as the Browns won 56-10.

The Browns would win the NFL Championship again in 1955, beating the Los Angeles Rams 38-14 as they played in their league’s championship in ten straight seasons.