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Throwback Thursday: 1948 Browns cap grueling Thanksgiving week with pivotal win


Imagine if, say, the Lions, after today's game against the Eagles, had to turn around and play the Bears on Sunday.

Ludicrous, right?

Well, that's exactly what the Browns did 67 years ago during a pivotal junction in what would become a historically great season.

The 1948 Browns played on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day and the Sunday after Thanksgiving -- all away from Cleveland -- and won all three games to maintain their perfect record. They ultimately finished 15-0 with a rout of the Buffalo Bills in the AAFC Championship, making them one of just two football teams in the modern era to finish with a perfect record.

As the grind of that Thanksgiving week proved, it wasn't easy, particularly in that daunting third game of the eight-day stretch.

The Browns began it with a relatively smooth, 34-21 victory over the New York Yankees in front of 52,518 fans -- the most to see a football game in New York all season. Cleveland hit the Yankees with a quick 14 points in the first quarter and never trailed in a game that included a 78-yard Marion Motley touchdown catch.

Four days later on Thanksgiving, Cleveland was on the other side of the country to face the Los Angeles Dons at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Browns trailed by a touchdown on two occasions during the first half but were able to pull away with 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win, 31-14.

The Browns' chances of winning three days later in San Francisco looked bleak. The wear and tear had taken a toll on the players, and star quarterback Otto Graham was considered doubtful to play because of a knee injury he suffered near the end of the previous game.

Graham, though, wouldn't have any of that. He played through the pain and did so at a high level, throwing four touchdown passes, three of which coming in Cleveland's 21-point third quarter, to bring the Browns back from an 11-point deficit and win, 31-28.

By beating the 49ers, the Browns not only capped the grueling stretch on a high note, but also clinched a spot in the AAFC Championship.

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