History

History: 1970


Team Photo

The 1970 season was one of great change for all teams in the NFL, especially the Browns.

The merger between the NFL and AFL was complete, with the leagues now playing each other in the regular season for the first time. This was the last step in a four-year process that began in January 1967 with the champions from both leagues playing in Super Bowl I.

To finish the merger, the Browns, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Colts, agreed to move in 1970 from the NFL to the old AFL, renamed the AFC, to balance the leagues, now called conferences (NFC and AFC), at 13 clubs each. The merger had hit a stalemate when none of the NFL teams initially wanted to jump to what many of the old-line NFL people felt was an inferior league overall.

Concerning just the Browns themselves, there was the situation involving Blanton Collier. Although no one except maybe the man himself knew it at the start of the season, this was going to be the last year for the venerable head coach. Collier, who had been on the job since 1963 and had guided the Browns to the NFL championship a year later, would announce his retirement shortly before the 1970 season ended.

Collier and the Browns went into the year with high hopes. After having made three straight playoff appearances, including trips to the NFL Championship Game in the previous two years, they Browns seemed primed -- for both the present and future.

Realizing quarterback Bill Nelsen's aching knees were on borrowed time, the Browns had made a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins on the eve of the 1970 NFL Draft to get the rights to select the man they felt would be their passer of the future, Mike Phipps. But it came at a steep price, for they had to give up Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Paul Warfield in the process.

That loss, coupled with Nelsen's physical condition and the unfamiliarity with the personnel on the former AFL clubs they were playing for the first time, took the starch out of what had been a good offense going all the way back to 1963. The result was the Browns scored 65 less points than they had the year before, and 108 less than two seasons before.

Along with that, the defense, though it gave up 35 fewer points than it had in 1969, just couldn't make up the difference.

It all led to the Browns finishing 7-7, only the second non-winning mark in club history.

Despite that, the season started well for the Browns, as they opened 3-1 and then were 4-2.

The Browns beat Joe Namath and the New York Jets 31-21 at Cleveland Stadium in the opener in the first Monday Night Football game in history, and, three games later, edged Cincinnati 30-27 in Bengals head coach Paul Brown's first official visit to Cleveland since being fired by the Browns eight years before.

Those two events alone speak volumes about the newsworthiness of the 1970 season.

The Browns' first loss came by three points (34-31) to a good San Francisco 49ers team, so there was no shame there, especially since it occurred just six days after the Monday night win over the Jets, and included a trip across the country to boot. Want to know when the term "Monday Night Football hangover" originated? On Sept. 27, 1970 at Kezar Stadium.

The Browns' next game, Oct. 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home, also made history and follows along with the theme of the season: change. The 15-7 victory marked the last of the traditional Saturday night games at Cleveland against Pittsburgh.

Following their most complete game of the year -- a 28-0 Week 6 triumph over Warfield and the up-and-coming Dolphins at the Orange Bowl, one of the few blemishes on Miami's 10-4 record that year -- the Browns suffered three straight losses to the San Diego Chargers (27-10), Oakland Raiders (23-20) and Cincinnati (14-10) to fall to 4-5.

However, since no one was running away from the pack in the newly-created AFC Central, the Browns were still in the race at the time. They were essentially knocked out of contention, however, in the next-to-last game of the year with a baseball score-like 6-2 loss to Dallas in Collier's final home game.

Fortunately, the Browns were able to send him off on a good note the next week with a season-ending 27-13 win at Denver.

Steve King,
Staff Writer


YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 2-4
at Los Angeles Rams (71,559) 17-30
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa (41,851) 17-10
Kansas City Chiefs at Memphis (31,532) 13-16
at Cincinnati Bengals (57,112) 24-31
Minnesota Vikings (83,043) 21-24
at New York Giants (62,461) 30-29
 
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 7 7 0 .500 0 0 0 .000 7 7 0 .500
 

Date Result Opponent Att.
9/21 W 31-21 New York Jets 85,703
9/27 L 31-34 at San Francisco 49ers 37,502
10/3 W 15-7 Pittsburgh Steelers 84,349
10/11 W 30-27 Cincinnati Bengals 83,520
10/18 L 24-41 Detroit Lions 83,577
10/25 W 28-0 at Miami Dolphins 75,313
11/1 L 10-27 San Diego Chargers 80,047
11/8 L 20-23 at Oakland Raiders 54,463
11/15 L 10-14 at Cincinnati Bengals 60,007
11/22 W 28-14 Houston Oilers 74,723
11/29 L 9-28 at Pittsburgh Steelers 50,214
12/7 W 21-10 at Houston Oilers 50,582
12/12 L 2-6 Dallas Cowboys 75,458
12/20 W 27-13 at Denver Broncos 51,001

Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 54 92 85 55 0 --- 286
Opponents 54 100 37 74 0 --- 265

Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 239 236
Rushing 84 104
Passing 134 120
Penalty 21 12
Total Net Yards 4,161 4,244
Avg. Per Game 297.2 303.1
Total Plays 870 844
Avg. Per Play 4.8 5
Net Yards Rushing 1,579 2,006
Avg. Per Game 112.8 143.3
Total Rushes 462 451
Net Yards Passing 2,582 2,238
Avg. Per Game 184.4 159.9
Sacked/Yards Lost 16/170 35/290
Gross Yards 2,752 2,528
Attempts/Completions 392/190 357/186
Completion Pct. 48.50% 52.10%
Had Intercepted 24 19
Punts/Avg. 71/42.6 66/42.4
Net Punting Avg. 71/41.4 66/38.9
Penalties/Yards Lost 65/634 88/871
Fumbles/Ball Lost 24/14 28/12
Touchdowns 35 32
Rushing 14 10
Passing 17 16
Returns 4 6

Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Cockroft, Don 0 0 0 0 34/35 0 0 12/22 0 70
Scott, Bo 7 4 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 66
Kelly, Leroy 6 2 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 48
Collins, Gary 0 4 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 24
Jones, Homer 0 1 1 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 12
Browns 14 17 1 3 34/35 0 0 12/22 3 286
Opponents 10 16 6 0 31/32 0 0 14/26 0 265

Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Kelly, Leroy 206 656 3.2 33t 6
Scott, Bo 151 625 4.1 63t 7
Morrison, Reece 73 175 2.4 18 0
Minniear, Randy 12 39 3.3 9 1
Phipps, Mike 11 94 8.5 26 0
Browns 462 1,579 3.4 63t 14
Opponents 451 2,006 4.4 73 11

Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Scott, Bo 40 351 8.8 24 4
Morin, Milt 37 611 16.5 36 1
Hooker, Fair 28 490 17.5 69 2
Collins, Gary 26 351 13.5 28 4
Kelly, Leroy 24 311 13 55 2
Browns 190 2,752 14.5 78t 17
Opponents 186 2,528 13.6 81t 16

Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Barnes, Erich 5 85 17 38t 1
Sumner, Walt 4 85 21.3 34 0
Lindsey, Dale 2 65 32.5 56t 1
Houston, Jim 1 25 25 25 0
Andrews, Billy 1 25 25 25t 1
Browns 19 324 17.1 56t 3
Opponents 24 399 16.6 62t 4

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Cockroft, Don 71 3,023 42.6 0 7 71 1
Browns 71 3,023 42.6 0 7 71 1
Opponents 66 2,801 42.4 0 3 65 0

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Morrison, Reece 15 2 133 8.9 34 0
Sumner, Walt 8 11 70 8.8 38 0
Schoen, Tom 8 1 18 2.3 7 0
Kelly, Leroy 2 0 15 7.5 12 0
Jenkins, Al 1 0 0 0 0 0
Browns 34 16 236 6.9 38 0
Opponents 23 28 83 3.6 33 0

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Jones, Homer 29 739 25.5 94t 1
Morrison, Reece 7 153 21.9 36 0
Brown, Ken 2 44 22 32 0
Matheson, Bob 2 21 10.5 14 0
Schoen, Tom 1 27 27 27 0
Browns 44 1,001 22.8 94t 1
Opponents 39 956 24.5 91 0

Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
Cockroft, Don 3/4 2/3 4/7 3/7 0/1 12/22
Browns 3/4 2/3 4/7 3/7 0/1 12/22
Opponents 2/2 1/4 5/7 3/7 3/6 14/26

Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At TD TD% Int Int% LG Tkld Ratng
Nelsen, Bill 313 159 2,156 50.8 6.89 16 5.1 16 5.1 78t 8/79 68.9
Phipps, Mike 60 29 529 48.3 8.82 1 1.7 5 8.3 53t 7/86 49.9
Gault, Don 19 2 67 10.5 3.53 0 0 3 15.8 44 1/5 2.2
Browns 392 190 2,752 48.5 7.02 17 4.3 24 6.1 78t 16/170 60.7
Opponents 357 186 2,528 52.1 7.08 16 4.5 19 5.3 81t 35/290 67.8