History

History: 1950


Team Photo

It was crucial for the Browns, in that inaugural season of 1946 in the All-America Football Conference, to get started off on the right foot.

And they did. The title they won that year paved the way for all the success that would follow.

The same could be said for the 1950 Browns, who captured the NFL championship in their first year in the league. They had to do all the things the 1946 squad had to do, and more.

The 1950 team not only had to get the franchise going in a positive direction in terms of the NFL, but it also had to validate all of the things the Browns had done in the AAFC. It wasn't enough just to win in their new league. The Browns also had to win impressively, and even with a little flair.

The stodgy, old-guard NFL people scoffed at the Browns' domination of the AAFC, saying it was a vastly inferior league to theirs. Thus, they thought the Browns were phonies whose cover would be blown once they began playing in the "big leagues."

To hasten the Browns' rude awakening, the NFL pitted them against the two-time defending league champion Philadelphia Eagles -- in Shibe Park, no less -- in the season opener. The Eagles, who had also appeared in three straight NFL title games (losing in 1947 to the Chicago Cardinals), had posted a league-best 11-1 regular-season record in '49.

This was the best the NFL had at the time. Surely they would teach these upstarts from Cleveland a lesson.

But the Browns, fresh off four straight titles in the AAFC, were up to the challenge - and then some. They blew out the Eagles 35-10, and it wasn't even that close. The Browns had prepared for this game for months, and it showed with their thorough domination from beginning to end.

The following week, the Browns won again in a rout, blanking their old foes from the AAFC, the Baltimore Colts, 21-0. They crushed another former AAFC opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, 34-14 late in the year.

But they also recorded some one-sided wins over established NFL clubs, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-7 and the Washington Redskins 45-21 in the regular-season finale.

The Browns didn't set out just to win these games, but also to prove a point - that is, that they truly belonged in the NFL.

For instance, after their victory in the opener, Eagles head coach Buck Shaw lamented that the Browns, who had passed his team silly, had used finesse to win the game. He claimed the Browns couldn't muscle up and beat Philadelphia in the trenches by using the running game.

So when the teams met again 2.5 months later in Cleveland, Browns head coach Paul Brown ordered his club not to throw a pass all day -- not one. The Browns still triumphed, though, 13-7.

The only team that was able to beat the Browns during the 1950 regular season was the New York Giants, who did it twice in the span of four games, 6-0 and 17-13. Fortunately for the Browns, the Giants lost to Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cardinals, so Cleveland and New York ended the regular season tied for first place in the American Conference at 10-2.

The clubs then met in a special playoff game at Cleveland to decide the conference's representative in the league title contest, and the Browns finally figured out the Giants' "umbrella" defense and came away with a hard-earned 8-3 win.

A week later at Cleveland, on Christmas Eve, the Browns met the Los Angeles Rams, who, when the Browns were formed in 1946, had bolted their former home of Cleveland despite having won the NFL crown in '45. Like the Browns, the Rams also had to capture a special playoff game the previous week to make it to the title contest, defeating the Chicago Bears 24-14 after those teams had finished tied atop the National Conference at 9-3.

The Rams led the Browns 28-20 after three quarters in the championship game before the hosts rallied for a 30-28 triumph, achieved when Lou Groza booted a 16-yard field goal with 28 seconds left.

Indeed, this was a Browns team that, all year long, rose to the occasion.

Quarterback Otto Graham didn't have a great season statistically, throwing just 14 touchdown passes while having 20 interceptions, but just like the club overall, he made plays when they were needed to be made. Graham really helped himself with his running ability, rushing for six TDs, tying him for the team lead with Dub Jones.

Jones gained just 384 yards but averaged 4.6 yards per carry, the same as the team. Marion Motley averaged 5.8 yards per rush en route to gaining 810 yards.

Mac Speedie topped the club in receptions with 43, but it was Dante Lavelli and Jones who did the most damage receiving-wise, both catching five TD passes. It was people like the versatile Jones who really made this offense go.

Defensively, the Browns gave up 144 points, or an average of just 12 per contest. They allowed only 16 points in their first three games combined, then, in the first five contests of a season-ending six-game winning streak, they permitted but 49 points.

The Browns intercepted 31 passes, with cornerback Tommy James leading the way with nine. Fellow cornerback Warren Lahr had eight (two of which were returned for scores), with safety Ken Gorgal adding six.

Every member of this squad - on both sides of the ball -- contributed in some way. The same goes for special teams. Don Phelps averaged 13.4 yards per punt return with a TD, and averaged 27.1 yards per kickoff return. Groza made 13-of-19 field-goal tries and led the club in scoring with 74 points.

When it was all said and done, they did as they had hoped and got started off in the NFL on the right foot, something they had also accomplished four years previously in the AAFC.

Steve King,
Staff Writer


YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 5-0
Green Bay Packers at Toledo (10,000) 38-7
Baltimore Colts at Cincinnati (21,000) 34-7
Detroit Lions at Akron (23,670) 35-14
Chicago Bears (51,076) 27-23
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo (15,259) 41-31
 
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 10 2 0 .833 2 0 0 1.000 12 2 0 .857
 
Postseason Results
Conference Championship Game
Date Opponent Result Score
12/17 New York Giants Win 8-3
NFL Championship Game
Date Opponent Result Score
12/24 Los Angeles Rams Win 30-28
 

Date Results Opponent
9/16 W 35-10 at Philadelphia Eagles
9/24 W 31-0 at Baltimore Colts
10/1 L 0-6 New York Giants
10/7 W 30-17 at Pittsburgh Steelers
10/15 W 34-24 Chicago Cardinals
10/22 L 13-17 at New York Giants
10/29 W 45-7 Pittsburgh Steelers
11/5 W 7-Oct at Chicago Cardinals
11/12 W 34-14 San Francisco 49ers
11/19 W 20-14 Washington Redskins
12/3 W 13-7 Philadelphia Eagles
12/10 W 45-21 at Washington Redskins
Playoff
12/17 W 3-Aug New York Giants
Championship
12/24 W 30-28 Los Angeles Rams

Score by Periods
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 69 84 57 100 0 --- 310
Opponents 39 35 35 35 0 --- 144

Team Statistics
  Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 199 184
Passing 86 71
Penalty 9 17
Total Net Yards 3,937 2,963
Avg. Per Game 328.1 246.9
Total Plays 717 743
Avg. Per Play 5.5 4
Net Yards Rushing 2,089 1,573
Avg. Per Game 174.1 131.1
Total Rushes 457 451
Net Yards Passing 1,679 1,390
Avg. Per Game 139.9 115.8
Sacked/Yards Lost 0/305 0/191
Gross Yards 1,984 1,581
Attempts/Completions 260/139 292/121
Completion Pct. 53.50% 41.40%
Had Intercepted 21 31
Punts/Avg. 66/43.2 69/41.5
Net Punting Avg. 66/40.0 69/34.7
Penalties/Yards Lost 104/968 62/554
Fumbles/Ball Lost 26/12 37/24
Touchdowns 38 19
Rushing 20 10
Passing 15 8
Returns 3 1

Scoring
  Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Groza, Lou 0 1 0 0 29/29 0 0 13/19 0 74
Jones, Dub 6 5 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 66
Graham, Otto 6 0 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 36
Lavelli, Dante 0 5 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 30
Motley, Marion 3 1 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 24
Browns 20 15 1 2 38/38 0 0 14/21 1 310
Opponents 10 8 1 0 18/19 0 0 4/11 0 144

Rushing
  No Yds Avg LG TD
Motley, Marion 140 810 5.8 69t 3
Jones, Dub 83 384 4.6 61t 6
Bumgardner, Rex 67 231 3.4 26 2
Graham, Otto 55 145 2.6 20 6
Phelps, Don 39 198 5.1 33 2
Browns 457 2,089 4.6 69t 20
Opponents 451 1,573 3.5 48 10

Receiving
  No Yds Avg LG TD
Speedie, Mac 42 548 13 45 1
Lavelli, Dante 37 565 15.3 43 5
Jones, Dub 31 458 14.8 80t 5
Motley, Marion 11 151 13.7 41 1
Bumgardner, Rex 9 112 198 12.4 25t 1
Browns 139 1,984 14.3 80t 15
Opponents 121 1,581 13.1 64 8

Interceptions
  No Yds Avg LG TD
James, Tommy 9 69 7.7 34 0
Lahr, Warren 8 99 12.4 30t 2
Gorgal, Ken 6 23 3.8 13 0
Martin, Jim 2 15 7.5 14 0
Herring, Hal 2 12 6 9 0
Browns 31 262 8.5 34 2
Opponents 21 262 12.5    

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Gillom, Horace 66 2,849 43.2 0 5 75 1
Browns 66 2,849 43.2 0 5 75 1
Opponents 69 2,864 41.5 0 6 65 0

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Phelps, Don 13 0 174 13.4 54t 1
Moselle, Dom 7 0 126 18 48 0
Gorgal, Ken 4 0 83 20.8 33 0
Carpenter, Ken 4 0 58 14.5 27 0
James, Tommy 0 0 15 0 0 0
Browns 30 0 469 15.6 54t 1
Opponents 32 0 210 6.6 32 0

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Phelps, Don 12 325 27.1 61 0
Moselle, Dom 5 107 21.4 29 0
Carpenter, Ken 5 98 19.6 25 0
Adamle, Tony 4 53 13.3 22 0
Gillom, Horace 3 51 17 23 0
Browns 32 670 20.9 61 0
Opponents 43 988 23 71 0

Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
 

Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At TD Td% Int Int% LG Tkld Rating
Graham, Otto 253 137 1,943 54.2 7.68 14 5.5 20 7.9 80t 0/291 64.7
Lewis, Cliff 4 1 38 25 9.5 1 25 0 0 38t 0/14 106.3
Gillom, Horace 1 1 3 100 3 0 0 0 0 3 0/0 79.2
Carpenter, Ken 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100 0 0/0 0
Groza, Lou 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 39.6
Browns 260 139 1,984 53.5 7.63 15 5.8 21 8.1 80t 0/305 64
Opponents 292 121 1,581 41.4 5.41 8 2.7 31 10.6 64 0/191 28.7