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Top 75 Moments: No. 59 - Jim Brown scores 5 touchdowns in 1st game vs. Johnny Unitas

The Browns won 38-31 in one of Jim Brown’s best games of his career


To continue our celebration of the franchise's 75th anniversary, we're launching "Browns Countdown: Top 75 Moments" presented by Bridgestone. Over the next month, through videos, articles and more, we'll be highlighting the top 75 moments in Browns history. Our video tributes, which will be available at, the Browns' mobile app and the Browns' official YouTube Channel, will dive deep into the top 20 while our articles will put the spotlight on a number of different moments that are sprinkled throughout the top 75.

We're moving down to No. 59, which highlights one of Jim Brown's all-time greatest games against one of the sport's all-time greatest players.

On Nov. 1, 1959, the best running back in NFL history played his first game against one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

The battle was between Jim Brown, the third-year running back who led the league in rushing his first two seasons, and Johnny Unitas, the quarterback of the reigning NFL champion Baltimore Colts. Both players had already begun to establish themselves among the greatest legends of the sport, and their results from that afternoon at Memorial Stadium affirmed that notion.

The Browns won 38-31 in a slugfest between the two stars. Brown pushed Cleveland to the win with five touchdowns and 178 rushing yards, but Unitas kept the Colts close with four touchdowns and 397 passing yards.

"I guess this is my most satisfying day," Brown said. "There's nothing like beating the champs. I do my best all the time, but I just may have been hitting with a little something extra out there today."

Brown's five touchdowns were the most he ever scored in his legendary nine-year career, and the first one was his most impressive — a 70-yard run that gave the Browns a 10-3 lead in the second quarter.

From there, Brown completed the rest of his damage in the red zone, scoring a 17-yard touchdown near the end of the second quarter, a 3-yard touchdown in the third quarter and two 1-yard scores to give the Browns their final points for the win.

Earlier this year, the Browns commissioned a panel of historians, alumni and journalists to rank the top 75 moments in Browns history. The group met multiple times to discuss the moments and each member submitted their own final rankings, which were averaged against each other to create the ultimate list.

Building the Top 75 from the bottom up

59. In the first meeting of Jim Brown vs. Johnny Unitas, the Cleveland Browns prevail in a 38-31 shootout against the Baltimore Colts on Nov. 1, 1959. The game also pits Weeb Ewbank against his mentor Paul Brown. Brown rushed for 178 yards and scored five touchdowns while Unitas threw for 397 yards in defeat.

60. Browns clinch a wildcard playoff berth on Dec. 18, 1988, behind backup quarterback Don Strock, who threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-23 victory over the Houston Oilers

61. Blanton Collier replaces Paul Brown as head coach. Collier coached the Browns when they won the 1964 championship.

62. Paul Brown debuts first radio helmet 1956 with QB George Ratterman.

63. Josh Gordon becomes first wide receiver in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard games on Dec. 1, 2013.

65. Phil Dawson retires from the NFL as a Cleveland Brown. Dawson signed with the Browns in 1999 and kicked for the Browns for 14 years.

67. Bobby Mitchell rushes for 232 yards on 14 carries for an incredible 16.6-yard average in a Cleveland Browns 31-17 win against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 15, 1959.

68. Browns' fans create numerous music ballads that are played on Cleveland radio to celebrate the teams resurgence in the late 1980s. Songs include "Oh Bernie Bernie," "Super Bowl Browns" and "Born and Raised on the Browns."

69. Browns defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 21-20, on Dec. 8, 2002 with a 50-yard Hail Mary from Tim Couch to Quincy Morgan with no time left. Couch becomes the only quarterback to have two game-winning passes of 50 yards or more with no time left on the clock.

72. Browns clinch an Eastern Conference title by crushing the New York Giants 52-20 on Dec. 12, 1964.

73. Browns move into first place of the AFC Central Division after defeating the Houston Oilers on Dec. 15, 1985. The Browns would go on to win the AFC Central for the first time since 1980

74. Jeff Garcia and Andre Davis combine to tie the NFL record for the longest pass in NFL history of 99 yards in a Cleveland Browns 34-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 17, 2004.

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