The Browns played their last game of the season in Cleveland.
And running back Jim Brown played his last game in Cleveland -- ever.
That all happened on Dec. 5, 1965 as the Browns rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat the Washington Redskins, 24-16, in front of a crowd of 77,765 at Cleveland Stadium.
The defending NFL-champion Browns captured their fifth straight victory and improved to 10-2 with two games left as they rolled toward their second straight Eastern Conference title. They would finish 11-3, getting their most regular-season wins since 1953.
The Redskins, who had won five of their previous six games, fell to 5-7 en route to a 6-8 finish in the last of their five seasons under coach Bill McPeek. He would be replaced in the offseason by Browns Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham.
But the bigger story that day was the swan song of the great Brown, though no one knew it then. A Hall of Famer as well and arguably the greatest player of all-time, Brown appeared to be at the top of his game and seemingly still had a lot left since he was only 29 years old.
He was on his way to leading the NFL in rushing yards for the eighth time in his nine-year career, getting 1,544 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also finished second on the team with 34 receptions, four of which went for scores.
Only two years previous, in 1963, he had set an NFL record with a staggering 1,863 rushing yards.
Brown was indeed the heart and soul of the Browns, and had become the face of the franchise following Graham’s retirement after the 1955 season and founding coach Paul Brown’s dismissal just three years before. It was impossible to think of the team without him.
Brown rushed for 141 yards on 27 carries against the Redskins, averaging 5.22 yards a carry, which was also his career average.
In addition, he scored the clinching touchdown on a five-yard run in the fourth quarter to make the final score 24-16.
The Redskins led, 6-0, after the first quarter (they missed the extra point) on Charley Taylor’s two-yard run.
Quarterback Frank Ryan and Gary Collins, the heroes of the 27-0 upset victory over the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship Game by combining for three touchdown passes, hooked up for a seven-yard score at the start of the second quarter and Cleveland led 7-6 after Hall of Famer Lou Groza booted the conversion.
But Sonny Jurgensen’s six-yard pass to Pat Richter and Bob Jenck’s 20-yard field goal gave the lead back to the Redskins at halftime, 16-7.
Groza’s 42-yard field goal in the third quarter cut the deficit to 16-10, then wide receiver Tom Hutchinson caught a 17-yard TD pass from Ryan in the fourth quarter to put Cleveland in front for good, 17-16.