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On This Date in Sports December 24, 1950: Undisputed

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 The Cleveland Browns, who dominated the AAFC, winning four straight titles, become the undisputed World Champions of professional football by beating the Los Angeles Rams 30-28 in a thrilling NFL Championship Game at Municipal Stadium. The Browns fought back all day, winning the game on a 16-yard field goal by Lou Groza with 28 seconds left as Otto Graham passed for 298 yards with four touchdowns. 

 Coached by Paul Brown, the Cleveland Browns dominated the All-American Conference. The AAFC was founded in 1946 as a rival to the NFL. The Browns were without rival in the rival league, winning four championships. After the 1949 season, the AAFC folded with the Browns moving on to the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts. The Browns were doubted upon their entry into the NFL as the AAFC was viewed as a minor league. The Browns erased those doubts by beating the two-time defending NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles 35-10 in the season opener. The Browns would post a record of 10-2 and beat the New York Giants 8-3 in the American Conference Playoff. 

 After losing to the Eagles in the mud in 1949, the Los Angeles Rams looked to win their first NFL Championship since moving to Hollywood. The Rams lit up the scoreboard in 1950, averaging 38.8 points per game to set an NFL record under coach Joe Stydahar. This included a pair of games against the Colts and Lions in which they scored 60 points in back-to-back games. Los Angeles posted a record of 9-3 and beat the Chicago Bears 24-14 in the National Conference Playoff.

On a blustery day in Cleveland, the Rams started the game with a bang as Bob Watefield connected with Glenn Davis on an 82-yard pass for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The Browns responded by scoring on their first drive as Dub Jones caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Otto Graham. The Rams again took the lead with a drive that ended with a three-yard run by Dick Hoerner. The Browns would answer in the second quarter as Dante Lavelli caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Graham. However, at the break, the Rams led 14-13 as Lou Groza missed the PAT. Waterfield had a chance to extend the lead but missed a field goal at the end of the second quarter. 

The Browns took the lead for the first time in the third quarter as Lavelli reeled in his second touchdown of the game, this time from 39 yards. Cleveland was doing a great job reining in the Rams high-scoring with five interceptions, including four thrown by Bob Waterfield. The Rams quickly regained the lead on Dick Hoerner’s second touchdown of the game. Marion Motley fumbled a short time later, with Larry Brink scooping the ball up and running six yards for a touchdown that gave Los Angeles a 28-20 lead after three quarters. 

 The Browns answered with a long drive that featured three fourth-down conversions. The drive ended with an Otto Graham connecting with Rex Bumgardner on a 14-yard touchdown pass. Things looked bleak for Cleveland when Graham fumbled with three minutes left with the Browns down 28-27. The Browns defense made a great stand, giving their offense one last shot to win the game. Getting the ball back with 1:49 left, Graham drove the ball down to the Los Angeles 16-yard line, setting up Lou Groza to kick the go-ahead field goal with 28 seconds left. 

The Browns appeared to have the game clinched when the Rams fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but the fumble was wiped out by a penalty. The Rams, down 30-28 now, were the desperate team. The Rams got the ball on their own 46, but Warren Lahr had his second interception of the game to finish off Los Angeles. After the game, NFL Commissioner Bert Bell declared the Browns the best team in the history of professional football.