On This Date in Sports November 15, 1970: Brown Beats Browns

The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Cleveland Browns 14-10 at Riverfront Stadium. After the game, Paul Brown, the Bengals owner and coach, declared his greatest career victory. As the Browns' coach, Paul Brown won three NFL Championships and four AAFC titles. Cleveland dismissed Brown after a falling out with owner Art Modell in 1963; he went on to found the Bengals in the AFL five years later. 

Paul Brown was the king of football in the state of Ohio. He was born on September 7, 1908, in Norwalk, Ohio. Born and raised in Ohio, Brown became a coach in local high schools after graduating from Miami of Ohio. Paul Brown was a highly respected coach at Massillon Washington High School. He showed his innovative side, creating the playbook and formations to revolutionize football on every level. After five state championships, Paul Brown got his dream job when he was named coach at Ohio State in 1941. Brown spent three seasons leading the Buckeyes before being drafted into the Navy. 

While in the Navy, Paul Brown was the Great Lakes Naval Training Station coach. When the war ended, Paul Brown did not return to Ohio State. He was offered a record $17,500 more than any coach had ever made at that point to become the coach for a new professional team in Cleveland, in the upstart All-American Football Conference. The team would be named Browns in his honor. The Browns dominated the AAFC, winning the league championship four consecutive seasons. 

The Browns' domination led to the demise of the AAFC, but the Cleveland Browns moved on to the NFL in 1950 and showed their championships were legitimate by winning the NFL Championship. The Browns added two more titles in 1954 and 1955 and played in the NFL Championship in their first six seasons. Along the way, Paul Brown reinvented the sport of football. He embraced the integration of football and mentored many future coaches who would shape the NFL for the next 50 years. 

The Cleveland Browns remained one of the NFL's premier franchises as the 1960s began. In 1961, the Browns were purchased by Art Modell, a New York advertising executive interested in lucrative television contracts with star running back Jim Brown becoming the face of the NFL. Paul Brown and Modell developed an uneasy relationship that fell apart after the 1962 season, leading to the legendary coach's departure. 

The Browns succeeded after Paul Brown's departure, winning an NFL Championship with Blanton Collier in 1964. After Cleveland fired him, Brown looked to get his own team. He helped organize an ownership group looking for an expansion team in Cincinnati. Those plans would lead to the birth of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968. The name was chosen to honor Massillon, where Paul Brown first made his name. After two seasons in the AFL, the Bengals joined the NFL with the merger, as the Browns were placed in the same division, setting up an instant rivalry in the AFC Central Division.

In the early days, the Bengals were clones of the Browns, with similar plain uniforms and orange helmets. They had a great start to the 1970 season, beating the Oakland Raiders 31-21 in the first game at Riverfront Stadium. However, the Bengals lost their next six games and stood at 1-6 before a 43-14 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 8. During the six-game losing streak, the Bengals lost to the Browns 30-27 in Cleveland on October 11th. The Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, who moved from the NFL to AFC, entered Week 9 in a tie for first, holding a record of 4-4, while the Houston Oilers were floundering 2-5-1. The Browns played well early in the season, starting 4-2 as quarterback Bill Nelsen dealt with a knee injury. 

The Week 9 game in Cincinnati would see the Browns' first-round pick, Mike Phipps, get his first career start. Phipps got off to a strong start, leading the Browns on a six-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Leroy Kelly. Late in the first quarter, the Browns were able to take control following a botched lateral by Cincinnati. The Bengals disputed the call, but the Browns would take a 10-0 lead with a field goal by Don Cockroft early in the second quarter. 


The turnover seemed to awaken the Bengals as they quickly went down the field and scored a touchdown as Jess Phillips caught a 13-yard pass from Virgil Carter. The Bengals had a chance to take the lead before the half, but Carter fumbled deep in Cleveland territory. Down 10-7 at the half, the Bengals took the lead with a long 85-yard drive that ended with a one-yard run by Paul Robinson capped. 

Neither team scored the rest of the way, as Browns receiver Fair Hooker was held to one catch for eight yards. Following their 14-10 win, Paul Brown acted like a schoolboy jumping up and down, calling it the greatest win of his career. The Bengals would win the final seven games of the 1970 season to finish 8-6, as they won the AFC Central. They are the only team to start 1-6 and make the postseason.