History

History: 1964


Team Photo

A lot of the players on the Browns' 1965 team said they thought it was better than the '64 squad when they met in 2004 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the latter club winning the NFL championship.

Indeed, the two teams are close - very close - when they're compared. It's just about a dead heat, in fact.

But the one main difference is that the 1964 squad won the league title. It did not fall short of its ultimate goal, unlike the '65 club, which lost to Green Bay 23-12 in the championship game.

Another difference between the two teams is that the 1964 club had some magic about it, whereas the one in '65 did not. And when you're splitting hairs between clubs, that counts for something. It really does.

What magic?

It's evidenced in the fact that the 1964 team, except for one time (a 28-19 road loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the next-to-last game that could have clinched the Eastern Conference crown), won the contests it had to win. And the Browns exorcised some demons in doing so.

They swept the season series from the arch rival New York Giants, the team that split with them the year before en route to edging out Cleveland by a game to win the Eastern crown. And both of the victories were convincing - 42-20 at Cleveland and 52-20 at New York in the regular-season finale to enable the Browns to earn the conference title. Those were just the fourth and fifth wins by the Browns over the Giants in 15 games dating all the way back to 1957.

The Browns put a 37-21 pasting on the Detroit Lions, whose 38-10 upset win in the next-to-last game of the 1963 season all but ruined Cleveland's chances of capturing the conference championship. It also represented the first regular-season triumph - and just the second victory of any kind - by the Browns over the Lions in 10 games dating to 1952.

Though the Pittsburgh Steelers were bad at the time, the Browns' 30-17 victory over them was significant as well. That because the Steelers had stunned the Browns 23-7 at Cleveland just three weeks before, with Pittsburgh's John Henry Johnson rushing for 200 yards, the most ever by an opponent against the Browns at the time.

Then, to cap off that memorable 1964 season, there was the 27-0 victory over the Baltimore Colts in the NFL title game. The Colts, after a 12-2 regular-season mark (much better than the Browns' 10-3-1 record), were double-digit favorites in the game and were stacked with players who would go on to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Plus they had throttled the Browns 36-14 at Cleveland two years earlier in the teams' last meeting. Many of the players from that game were still with their respective teams.

With all that stacked against them, then, nobody thought the Browns could win -- nobody, that is, except the Browns themselves.

Not only did the Browns triumph, they did so with an exclamation point on the end, totally dominating the game after a scoreless first half.

The Browns, who scored 415 points in the regular season, or an average of 26 per game, had an explosive, balanced offense. They could beat teams with the run - Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown was his usual super self, rushing for 1,446 yards and seven touchdowns, while Ernie Green added seven rushing scores. And they could beat teams with the pass - quarterback Frank Ryan threw for 25 TDs with 19 interceptions, rookie Paul Warfield had 52 catches and nine TDs, fellow wide receiver Gary Collins had eight scores among his 35 grabs, and Brown and Green combined for 61 receptions and six TDs.

The defense gave up some yards and points on the year, but it had ability and it made plays when it had to, as evidenced by the way it completely shut down - and shut out - the mighty Colts. In fact, even though Ryan's three TD passes to Collins stole the headlines, the biggest single play of the day was actually turned in by a defensive player, Galen Fiss.

With all of his teammates on the other side of the field after being completely fooled by a screen pass from Johnny Unitas to fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Lenny Moore in the first half, the outside linebacker knifed his way through several blockers to make the tackle. Otherwise, Moore would have easily sped for a 77-yard score, breaking the scoreless tie and possibly jump-starting Baltimore's high-powered offense.

As it was, that's the closest the Colts came to a TD all day. Unitas, Moore, Hall of Fame wide receiver Raymond Berry and the rest never got untracked.

So while the 1965 Browns team, in terms of talent, might have been better, the one in '64 had the better finish and earned its place in NFL history.

And that's what counts.

Steve King,
Staff Writer


YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 4-1
at San Francisco 49ers (27,404) 7-26
at Los Angeles Rams (43,183) 56-31
Pittsburgh Steelers at Akron (27,255) 42-7
at Detroit Lions (36,946) 35-14
Green Bay Packers (83,736) 20-17
 
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 10 3 1 .769 1 0 0 1.000 11 3 1 .786
 
Postseason Results
NFL Championship Game
Date Opponent Result Score
12/27 Baltimore Colts Win 27-0
 

Date Result Opponent Att.
9/13 W 27-13 at Washington Redskins 47,577
9/20 T 33-33 St. Louis Cardinals 76,954
9/27 W 28-20 at Philadelphia Eagles 60,671
10/4 W 27-6 Dallas Cowboys 72,062
10/10 L 7-23 Pittsburgh Steelers 80,530
10/18 W 20-16 at Dallas Cowboys 37,456
10/25 W 42-20 New York Giants 81,050
11/1 W 30-17 at Pittsburgh Steelers 49,568
11/8 W 34-24 Washington Redskins 76,385
11/15 W 37-21 Detroit Lions 83,064
11/22 L 21-28 at Green Bay Packers 48,065
11/29 W 38-24 Philadelphia Eagles 79,289
12/6 L 19-28 at St. Louis Cardinals 31,585
12/12 W 52-20 at New York Giants 63,007
NFL Championship
12/27 W 27-0 Baltimore Colts 79,544

Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 61 123 107 124 0 --- 415
Opponents 57 85 69 82 0 --- 293

Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 255 275
Rushing 119 119
Passing 118 137
Penalty 18 19
Total Net Yards 4,486 4,722
Avg. Per Game 320.4 337.3
Total Plays 807 894
Avg. Per Play 5.6 5.3
Net Yards Rushing 2,163 2,012
Avg. Per Game 154.5 143.7
Total Rushes 435 465
Net Yards Passing 2,323 2,710
Avg. Per Game 165.9 193.6
Sacked/Yards Lost 28/219 28/222
Gross Yards 2,542 2,932
Attempts/Completions 344/181 401/230
Completion Pct. 52.60% 57.40%
Had Intercepted 19 19
Punts/Avg. 49/41.9 57/39.7
Net Punting Avg. 49/38.1 57/34.4
Penalties/Yards Lost 60/611 64/643
Fumbles/Ball Lost 15/7 30/21
Touchdowns 50 36
Rushing 14 18
Passing 28 18
Returns 8 0

Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Groza, Lou 0 0 0 0 49/50 0 0 22/33 0 115
Green, Ernie 6 4 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 60
Brown, Jim 7 2 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 54
Warfield, Paul 0 9 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 54
Collins, Gary 0 8 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 48
Browns 14 28 4 4 49/50 0 0 22/33 0 415
Opponents 18 18 0 0 32/35 0 0 15/23 0 293

Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Brown, Jim 280 1,446 5.2 71 7
Green, Ernie 109 491 4.5 37t 6
Ryan, Frank 37 217 5.9 19 1
Kelly, Leroy 6 12 2 5 0
Scales, Charley 2 5 2.5 3 0
Browns 435 2,163 5 71 14
Opponents 465 2,012 4.3 45t 18

Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Warfield, Paul 52 920 17.7 62t 9
Brown, Jim 36 340 9.4 40t 2
Collins, Gary 35 544 15.5 43 8
Brewer, Johnny 25 338 13.5 41 3
Green, Ernie 25 283 11.3 32 4
Browns 181 2,542 14 62t 28
Opponents 230 2,932 12.7 92t 18

Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Parrish, Bernie 4 98 24.5 54t 1
Beach, Walter 4 81 20.3 65t 1
Benz, Larry 4 67 16.8 45 0
Houston, Jim 2 86 43 44 1
Fichtner, Ross 2 67 33.5 64 0
Browns 19 444 23.4 65t 3
Opponents 19 154 8.1 27 0

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Collins, Gary 48 2,016 42 0 5 58 0
Franklin, Bobby 1 36 36 0 0 36 0
Browns 49 2,052 41.9 0 5 58 0
Opponents 57 2,265 39.7 0 5 60 1

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Kelly, Leroy 9 7 171 19 68t 1
Roberts, Walter 10 6 132 13.2 40 0
Williams, Sidney 1 0 0 0 0 0
Browns 20 13 303 15.1 68t 1
Opponents 20 8 183 9.1 53 0

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Roberts, Walter 24 661 27.5 60 0
Kelly, Leroy 24 582 24.3 45 0
Scales, Charley 5 75 15 24 0
Warfield, Paul 1 4 4 4 0
Franklin, Bobby 1 1 1 1 0
Browns 57 1,323 23.2 60 0
Opponents 75 1,517 20.2 49 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
Ryan, Frank 334 174 2,404 52.1 7.2 25 7.5 19 5.7 62t 27/207 76.7
Ninowski, Jim 9 6 125 66.7 13.89 2 22.2 0 0 41 1/12 149.3
Brown, Jim 1 1 13 100 13 1 100 0 0 13t 0/0 158.3
Browns 344 181 2,542 52.6 7.39 28 8.1 19 5.5 62t 28/219 80.8
Opponents 401 230 2,932 57.4 7.31 18 4.5 19 4.7 92t 28/222 75.6