History

History: 1969


Team Photo

The 1969 season was the last for the Browns in the old NFL, now NFC, before they went to the AFC, the re-made AFL, when the merger was completed the following year.

And they went out with a bang -- pretty much so, at least.

They won the title in the Century Division of the Eastern Conference for the third straight season by finishing 10-3-1, their best record since 1965 (11-3). For the second year in a row, they beat the Dallas Cowboys in the conference title game - this time much more decisively, 38-14. They had defeated Dallas in the 1968 conference championship contest 31-20.

But despite the lopsided win over the Cowboys and all the confidence it gave them, the Browns followed suit by being crushed 27-7 by the Minnesota Vikings in the final NFL Championship Game.

So for the second straight time, the Browns got to the doorstep of the Super Bowl, only to be turned away. The Vikings went there instead and got blasted themselves by the Kansas City Chiefs 23-7.

The 1969 Browns were consistent. They scored in the 20s 10 times, they tallied 27 points on four occasions, including three times in the first four games, and they totaled 28 points in back-to-back contests near the end of the season.

Is it any wonder, then, that they averaged just over 25 points per contest on the year?

Ironically, their two biggest games - one with an extremely good outcome and the other with an extremely bad one -- came in consecutive weeks in the middle of the season. In addition to that, the contests were against the two teams they would face in the playoffs - in the exact order they would meet them, and also in the place they would meet them.

They manhandled Dallas 42-10 at Cleveland, beating the Cowboys for the first time in the regular season since 1966 and providing the Browns with their most lopsided win of the year. The Cowboys had been to the NFL Championship Game the previous two seasons.

Then the Browns were summarily dumped 51-3 by the host Vikings. The Minnesota loss occurred at the end of a three-game stretch that represented the only rough spot the Browns hit all year. Before beating Dallas, the Browns settled for a 21-21 tie with a bad (4-9-1) St. Louis Cardinals team.

The Browns played the last three games merely for exercise and to keep sharp, as they clinched the Century crown with a 28-24 road win over the Chicago Bears on Nov. 30. Down the stretch, they lost to the New York Giants in the finale 27-14, but they also beat Green Bay 20-7 and ended an eight-game losing streak to the Packers, and edged the Cardinals 27-21 in the rematch.

Quarterback Bill Nelsen, one of the best leaders the Browns have ever had, enjoyed his second straight good season since coming in a trade with Pittsburgh in 1968. He threw for 2,743 yards and 23 touchdowns, with 19 interceptions, for a quarterback rating of 78.8.

Wide receivers Gary Collins and Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Warfield combined for 96 catches, nearly 1,700 yards and 21 TDs.

Another Hall of Famer, running back Leroy Kelly, missed 1,000 yards rushing for the first time since taking over as a starter in 1966, but he still finished with 817 yards and nine TDs.

The defense was solid all year despite giving up 300 points. A total of 81 points came in two games, the loss to the Vikings and a 42-31 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Otherwise, the Browns held their foes to 18.3 points per contest and limited three teams to 10 points or less.

Feisty safety Mike Howell, who also played some at cornerback during his eight seasons with the Browns, led the way with six interceptions. Cornerback Walt Sumner (four) and safety Ernie Kellerman (three) were next on the interceptions list, and both returned one for a TD.

The Browns had three interception returns for TDs overall, the other one coming from veteran cornerback Erich Barnes.

Steve King,
Staff Writer


YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 3-2-1
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle (32,219) 21-16
at Los Angeles Rams (54,937) 10-7
at San Diego Chargers (36,005) 19-19
Green Bay Packers (85,532) 17-27
at Washington Redskins (45,994) 20-10
Minnesota Vikings at Akron (28,561) 16-23
 
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 1 0 .500 11 4 1 .733
 
Postseason Results
Conference Championship Game
Date Opponent Result Score
12/28 at Dallas Cowboys Win 38-14
NFL Championship Game
Date Opponent Result Score
1/4 at Minnesota Vikings Loss 7-27
 

Date Result Opponent Att.
9/21 W 27-20 at Philadelphia Eagles 60,658
9/28 W 27-23 Washington Redskins 82,581
10/5 L 21-28 Detroit Lions 82,933
10/12 W 27-17 at New Orleans Saints 71,274
10/18 W 42-31 Pittsburgh Steelers 84,078
10/26 T 21-21 St. Louis Cardinals 81,186
11/2 W 42-10 Dallas Cowboys 84,850
11/9 L 3-51 at Minnesota Vikings 47,700
11/16 W 24-3 at Pittsburgh Steelers 47,670
11/23 W 28-17 New York Giants 80,595
11/30 W 28-24 at Chicago Bears 45,050
12/7 W 20-7 Green Bay Packers 82,137
12/14 W 27-21 at St. Louis Cardinals 44,924
12/21 L 14-27 at New York Giants 62,966
Playoff
12/28 W 38-14 at Dallas Cowboys 69,321
NFL Championship
1/4 L 7-27 at Minnesota Vikings 47,900

Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 77 117 70 87 0 --- 351
Opponents 41 91 38 130 0 --- 300

Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 250 257
Rushing 97 120
Passing 138 121
Penalty 15 16
Total Net Yards 4,428 4,420
Avg. Per Game 316.3 315.7
Total Plays 845 841
Avg. Per Play 5.2 5.3
Net Yards Rushing 1,788 1,956
Avg. Per Game 127.7 139.7
Total Rushes 447 417
Net Yards Passing 2,640 2,464
Avg. Per Game 188.6 176
Sacked/Yards Lost 20/190 37/323
Gross Yards 2,830 2,787
Attempts/Completions 378/199 387/202
Completion Pct. 52.60% 52.20%
Had Intercepted 21 19
Punts/Avg. 60/37.5 64/40.5
Net Punting Avg. 60/36.3 64/37.9
Penalties/Yards Lost 58/603 72/746
Fumbles/Ball Lost 25/14 32/22
Touchdowns 45 38
Rushing 17 18
Passing 24 19
Returns 4 1

Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Cockroft, Don 0 0 0 0 45/45 0 0 12/23 0 81
Collins, Gary 0 11 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 66
Kelly, Leroy 9 1 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 60
Warfield, Paul 0 10 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 60
Johnson, Ron 7 0 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 42
Browns 17 24 0 4 45/45 0 0 12/23 0 351
Opponents 18 19 1 0 36/37 0 0 12/22 0 300

Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Kelly, Leroy 196 817 4.2 31 9
Johnson, Ron 138 472 3.4 48t 7
Morrison, Reece 59 300 5.1 54 1
Scott, Bo 44 157 3.6 20 0
Nelsen, Bill 5 -11 -2.2 3 0
Browns 447 1,788 4 54 17
Opponents 417 1,956 4.7 57 18

Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Collins, Gary 54 786 14.6 48t 11
Warfield, Paul 42 886 21.1 82t 10
Morin, Milt 37 495 13.4 35 0
Johnson, Ron 24 164 6.8 18 0
Kelly, Leroy 20 267 13.4 36 1
Browns 199 2,830 14.2 82t 24
Opponents 202 2,787 13.8 84t 19

Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Howell, Mike 6 21 3.5 11 0
Sumner, Walt 4 82 20.5 40t 1
Kellermann, Ernie 3 40 13.3 40t 1
Garlington, John 2 4 2 4 0
Barnes, Erich 1 55 55 55t 1
Browns 19 217 11.4 55t 3
Opponents 21 275 13.1 56 1

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Cockroft, Don 57 2,138 37.5 0 6 55 1
Collins, Gary 3 112 37.3 0 1 59 0
Browns 60 2,250 37.5 0 7 59 1
Opponents 64 2,593 40.5 0 0 58 0

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Sumner, Walt 9 11 72 8 21 0
Morrison, Reece 11 3 49 4.5 15 0
Kelly, Leroy 7 0 28 4 13 0
Leigh, Charles 5 1 18 3.6 14 0
Browns 32 15 167 5.2 21 0
Opponents 20 21 72 3.6 55 0

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Scott, Bo 25 722 28.9 65 0
Morrison, Reece 9 155 17.2 31 0
Brown, Dean 2 45 22.5 24 0
Kelly, Leroy 2 26 13 14 0
Leigh, Charles 2 6 3 6 0
Browns 46 985 21.4 65 0
Opponents 56 1,166 20.8 48 0

Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
Cockroft, Don 0/0 7/8 3/8 2/6 0/1 12/23
Browns 0/0 7/8 3/8 2/6 0/1 12/23
Opponents 2/3 4/5 5/6 1/6 0/2 12/22

Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At TD TD% Int Int% LG Tkld Ratng
Nelsen, Bill 352 190 2,743 54 7.79 23 6.5 19 5.4 82t 17/164 78.8
Kelly, Leroy 5 1 36 20 7.2 1 20 0 0 36t 0/0 96.7
Rhome, Jerry 19 7 35 36.8 1.84 0 0 2 10.5 22 3/26 5.7
Morrison, Reece 1 1 16 100 16 0 0 0 0 16 0/0 118.8
Johnson, Ron 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 39.6
Browns 378 199 2,830 52.6 7.49 24 6.3 21 5.6 82t 20/190 75.2
Opponents 387 202 2,787 52.2 7.2 19 4.9 19 4.9 84t 37/323 71.5