After losing the last two NFL Championship Games, the Browns entered the 1953 season determined not to let anything get in their way of reaching the very top.
And indeed, they were nearly flawless in their season opener on Sept. 27, dominating the host Green Bay Packers in every aspect of the game en route to a 27-0 victory in the teams’ first meeting.
Just nine months removed from a 17-7 defeat to the Detroit Lions in the 1952 league title game, the Browns began the road back by flexing their muscles and outgaining the Packers by 218 total yards. The Browns had a 366-148 edge, including a whopping 270-55 margin in passing yards.
The only thing Browns Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham did not do was throw a touchdown pass. Otherwise, he was brilliant. He was 20-of-26 passing for 280 yards with one interception. He also ran for two one-yard scores.
Defensively, the Browns forced four turnovers, three of which were interceptions.
Graham’s first TD got the Browns off and running in the first quarter.
Hall of Famer Lou Groza’s 15-yard field goal and Graham’s other scoring run made it 17-0 at halftime.
Groza’s second field goal, from 29 yards, and Ken Carpenter’s five-yard TD run pushed the lead to 27-0 after three quarters, and the Browns coasted the rest of the way.
Groza would enjoy his best season as a kicker in 1953 (he was also a consistent Pro Bowler at left tackle) by making 23-of-26 field-goal tries.
The only negative for Browns coach Paul Brown, who was a real stickler for such things, was the fact the club played a sloppy game in terms of penalties, getting flagged nine times for 58 yards.
The Packers were really struggling during this period. They would lose their first three games and finish 2-9-1, the sixth of what would be 11 consecutive losing seasons. It wasn’t until an assistant coach from the New York Giants named Vince Lombardi arrived in 1959 that things began to change.
As for the Browns, with Graham leading the NFL in passing yards for the first time with 2,722 while compiling a career-best 99.7 quarterback rating, they captured their first 11 games in 1953. They then lost a meaningless finale to finish 11-1, equaling their mark of 1951, their second year in the league.
But they fell just short of their goal of winning the championship, being topped again by the Lions, 17-16.