EDITORS NOTE: The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team broke the record for the longest winning streak in NCAA history earlier this week when they passed UCLA’s mark of 88 consecutive victories. While the UCONN women are today’s standard-bearer for winning streaks, the Browns built a pretty impressive legacy during the 1940s.
History provides us a window into the past, but when the past gets to be too past, that window gets dusty and faded and the images we look to see become hard to make out.
And so it is with the Browns of six decades ago, the best team you might not have ever heard about.
The glory of what they did in the late 1940s in the All-America Football Conference -- and their legacy -- came into clear focus for those who have taken the time to look and see, when the University of Connecticut women set the Division I record for men’s and women’s basketball teams by winning its 89th consecutive game. The 88th in a row, which tied the mark set by John Wooden’s UCLA men, came in a victory over Ohio State a few days before.
The Huskies are being applauded for their knock-your-socks-off accomplishment; as well they should be, just as the Bruins drew the plaudits of everyone when they pulled off their feat.
A quarter-century before the Bruins stepped into history; the Browns etched their place with some deeds that still defy logic all these years later.
The 1948 Browns went 15-0, including a resounding 49-7 win over the Buffalo Bills in the AAFC Championship Game. To this day, they are one of only two pro football teams to finish a season with a totally perfect record -- no losses and no ties -- the other being the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who capped their 17-0 year by edging the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
But that’s not the Browns’ entire streak. From midway through the 1947 season to the midway point of 1949, they went undefeated over a 29-game span, going 27-0-2. It started with a 31-28 triumph over the Chicago Rockets on October 19, 1947 and ended with a 42-7 win over the Los Angeles Dons on October 2, 1949.
The two ties both came by 28-28 scores on the road, in the third-to-last game in 1947 against the New York Yankees after the Browns rallied from a 28-0 halftime deficit, and in the 1949 opener against the Bills.
And just as the Huskies and Bruins ran roughshod over most of their foes during their runs, so did the Browns.
Down the stretch in 1947, the Browns defeated their arch rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, 37-14, and then, shut out the Baltimore Colts 42-0 in the regular-season finale.
In 1948, aside from the aforementioned title game victory, they beat the Bills 42-13, the Yankees 35-7 and the Colts and Rockets both by 28-7 counts.
In three straight weeks in 1948, the Browns allowed only one touchdown.
Also, the 1948 Browns won three games in an eight-day span, on opposite coasts, against their biggest rivals. On November 21, they beat the Yankees 34-21, then played the Dons in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, and triumphed 31-14. Finally, they traveled up the West Coast to edge the 49ers 31-28 on November 28.
So next time you hear talk about streaks, pay homage to the Huskies and Bruins, to be sure, but also do so to the Browns, whose feats of so long ago have become a glow that can be seen even today.