The Browns got back on track in 1957.
Then, in the most important game of the season, they were derailed.
The Detroit Lions, victims of a 56-10 crushing by the Browns in the 1954 NFL Championship Game, turned the tables and beat Cleveland 59-14 in the '57 title contest. It still ranks as one of the most lopsided defeats in Browns history.
It was a sour ending to what had been a great season for the Browns. After missing the playoffs in 1956, ending a string of 10 straight years in which they had advanced to the league championship game, the Browns came storming back to finish 9-2-1 and win the Eastern Conference title by a relatively healthy margin over the defending world champion New York Giants (7-5).
The Browns took care of business against the Giants, "bookending," as it were, their arch rivals. They beat New York 6-3 in the season opener and then edged them again 34-28 in the finale.
Cleveland also posted two shutouts on the year, 24-0 over the Pittsburgh Steelers and 31-0 over the Chicago Cardinals.
Ironically, the Eastern foe the Browns had the most trouble with was fourth-place Washington (5-6-1). Cleveland edged the Redskins 21-17 and then had to settle for a 30-30 tie in the rematch.
Once again, the Browns fell to Detroit 20-7, making them 0-3 against the Lions in the regular season since joining the NFL in 1950.
Although they had a rookie running back by the name of Jim Brown, the Browns were by no means an offensive juggernaut overall. The eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer was outstanding, rushing for 942 yards and nine TDs, but he was the only real standout that year.
Tommy O'Connell, who had taken over for retired Hall of Famer Otto Graham in 1956 and was the quarterback during the 5-7 finish that year, had the job for most of the way in '57 as well. He and rookie Milt Plum combined for just 1,873 yards passing 12 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.
The leading receiver was wideout Darrel Brewster with only 30 catches.
The most explosive target in the passing game was Ray Renfro, who averaged 28.0 yards per catch on his 21 receptions.
Rather, then, it was the defense that led the team, surrendering just 172 points all year, or an average of only 14.3 per game. In the first seven contests of the year, the Browns gave up only 63 points (9.0).
Hall of Fame right end Len Ford was in his last year with the Browns. The club had a "head coaching" linebackers corps with Chuck Noll, who went on to a Hall of Fame head coaching career with the Steelers, on the left side, and Walt Michaels, who spent the better part of two decades as a coach with the New York Jets, including six seasons as head coach, on the right side.
|9/29||W 6-3||New York Giants||58,095|
|10/5||W 23-12||at Pittsburgh Steelers||35,570|
|10/13||W 24-7||Philadelphia Eagles||53,493|
|10/20||L 7-17||at Philadelphia Eagles||22,443|
|10/27||W 17-7||at Chicago Cardinals||26,341|
|11/3||W 21-17||Washington Redskins||52,936|
|11/10||W 24-0||Pittsburgh Steelers||53,709|
|11/17||T 30-30||at Washington Redskins||27,722|
|11/24||W 45-31||Los Angeles Rams||65,407|
|12/1||W 31-0||Chicago Cardinals||40,525|
|12/8||L 7-20||at Detroit Lions||55,814|
|12/15||W 34-28||at New York Giants||54,294|
|12/29||L 14-59||at Detroit Lions||55,263|
|Score By Periods|
|Total First Downs||180||164|
|Total Net Yards||3,670||2,802|
|Avg. Per Game||305.8||233.5|
|Avg. Per Play||5.3||4.4|
|Net Yards Rushing||1,958||1,502|
|Avg. Per Game||163.2||125.2|
|Net Yards Passing||1,712||1,300|
|Avg. Per Game||142.7||108.3|
|Net Punting Avg.||61/34.1||72/38.5|