The Detroit Lions (9–3) were the National Conference champions and met the Cleveland Browns (8–4), champions of the American Conference. It was the first of three consecutive matchups in the title game between the Lions and Browns.
The Lions were led by quarterback Bobby Layne, running back Doak Walker, and head coach Buddy Parker, and the Browns were led by head coach Paul Brown and quarterback Otto Graham. It was the Browns' third consecutive NFL championship game appearance since joining the NFL in 1950. The Lions returned to the title game after 17 years, since their win in 1935.
The Lions finished the 1952 regular season tied with the Los Angeles Rams (9–3) for top of the National Conference. Even though the Lions won both meetings, the rules of the day called for a tiebreaker playoff game. The teams' third game was held at Briggs Stadium in Detroit on December 21, which the Lions also won, 31–21.
|1952 NFL Championship Game|
|Date||December 28, 1952|
|Stadium||Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio|
|TV in the United States|
|Radio in the United States|
Detroit took the opening kickoff, failed to gain, and punted, with Renfro getting back 11 yards to the Browns' 41. A couple of offside penalties were costly, but the Browns still managed to reach the 18, as Graham was then tossed for an 11-yard loss and the threat ended with Lou Groza missing a field goal from the 25. Detroit then moved upfield, getting to the Cleveland 30, but also failed to score when Pat Harder was short and wide with a field goal bid from 37 yards out.
Punter Horace Gillom punted a short kick, which rolled out at midfield, with the Lions going 50 yards in seven plays. Layne started it with a pass to Cloyce Box for 10 yards to the 40 and then ran for 13 and another first down on the 27. Layne added nine more before Walker made a first down on the 16, from where Layne passed to Bill Swiacki for 14 yards to the three. After an offsides penalty, Layne would run the ball in for a touchdown and led at halftime, 7-0.
The second half started with the Browns moving steadily, until checked by David's interception. Detroit was halted on this chance with the ball, but clicked the next time when Walker broke away for the touchdown that boosted the lead to 14 points. A Cleveland third quarter touchdown narrowed the lead to 7, but a defensive stand from the Lions from their own 5 along with a late Pat Harder field goal sealed the victory and the Lions' first championship since 1935.
Sunday, December 28, 1952
Kickoff: 1 p.m. EST
The gross receipts for the game, including radio and television rights, were just over US$314,000. Each player on the winning Lions team received $2,274, while Browns players made $1,712 each, the highest to date.
 Harold Sauerbrie, "Lions Beat Browns, 17–7, For Title", Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 28, 1952, Browns history database retrieved December 12, 20071952 Detroit Lions season
The 1952 Detroit Lions season resulted in the Lions winning their second National Football League (NFL) championship, having won their first championship 17 years earlier in 1935. The team's co-captains were halfback Bob Hoernschemeyer and defensive tackle John Prchlik, and defensive end Jim Doran was selected as the team's most valuable player. In their third year under head coach Buddy Parker, the 1952 Lions compiled a 9–3 record during the regular season, finished in a tie with the Los Angeles Rams for first place in the NFL's National Conference, defeated the Rams in a tiebreaker game, and defeated the Cleveland Browns, 17–7, in the 1952 NFL Championship Game at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.
The 1952 Lions outscored opponents 354 to 192 in 12 regular season games and ranked first in the NFL with an average of 29.5 points scored per game. The offense was led by quarterback Bobby Layne who ranked second in the NFL with 2,410 yards of total offense – 1,999 passing and 411 rushing. End Cloyce Box led the NFL with 15 touchdowns, including nine touchdown catches in the final three games of the regular season. For the third consecutive year, Bob Hoernschemeyer was the team's leading rusher with 457 yards and an average of 4.3 yards per carry. Jack Christiansen led the NFL with an average of 21.5 yards per punt return, returned two punts for touchdowns, and ranked fourth in the NFL with 731 punt and kick return yards.
The Lions' defense ranked first in the NFL in points allowed, allowing 16 points per game during the regular season. Defensive back Bob Smith ranked among the NFL leaders with a 90-yard interception return (2nd), nine interceptions (3rd), and 184 interception return yards (3rd). Smith was also the team's punter and ranked second in the NFL with an average of 44.7 yards per punt. Six players from the 1952 Lions team, Layne, Christiansen, halfback Doak Walker, defensive back Yale Lary, and offensive linemen Lou Creekmur and Dick Stanfel, were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.1952 Philadelphia Eagles season
The 1952 Philadelphia Eagles season was their 20th in the league. The team improved on their previous output of 4–8, winning seven games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the third consecutive season.1952 in Michigan
Events from the year 1952 in Michigan.1953 NFL Championship Game
The 1953 National Football League championship game was the 21st annual championship game, held on December 27 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.The defending NFL champion Detroit Lions (10–2) of the Western Conference were led by quarterback Bobby Layne and running back Doak Walker, and the Cleveland Browns (11–1) of the Eastern Conference were led by head coach Paul Brown and quarterback Otto Graham. The game was a rematch of the previous year, which was won by the Lions, 17–7.
This was the Browns' fourth consecutive NFL championship game appearance since joining the league in 1950, and they were favored by three points.The Lions were attempting to become the third team in the championship game era (since 1933) to win two titles in a row, following the Chicago Bears (1940, 1941) and Philadelphia Eagles (1948, 1949).The home underdog Lions rallied in the fourth quarter with a late touchdown and conversion to win by a single point, 17–16. The two teams met the following year for a third consecutive title match-up.Browns–Steelers rivalry
The Browns–Steelers rivalry is a National Football League rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. With 134 meetings, it is the oldest rivalry and the most storied in the American Football Conference. The two divisional foes have a natural rivalry due to the commonalities between the cities, proximity, etc. It is sometimes called the Turnpike Rivalry or Turnpike War because the majority of the driving route between the two cities are via the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes.Byron Bailey
Byron Ledare"By" Bailey (October 12, 1930 – January 18, 1998) born to Rollin Edward and Cora Helen (Bruner). Bailey, was a professional American and Canadian football player, primarily as a fullback and defensive back with the Canadian Football League BC Lions. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Bailey is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the BC Sports Hall of Fame, the B.C. Lions Wall of Fame, and the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Bailey's #38 jersey is one of eight numbers retired by the B.C. Lions. In 2006, Bailey was voted to the Honour Roll of the CFL's top 50 players of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.Bailey is perhaps best remembered for scoring the first touchdown in the history of the B.C. Lions' franchise in an August 28, 1954 game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.Cleveland Stadium
Cleveland Stadium, commonly known as Municipal Stadium or Lakefront Stadium, was a multi-purpose stadium located in Cleveland, Ohio. It was one of the early multi-purpose stadiums, built to accommodate both baseball and football. The stadium opened in 1931 and is best known as the long-time home of the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball, from 1932 to 1993, and the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL), from 1946 to 1995, in addition to hosting other teams, sports, and being a regular concert venue. The stadium was a four-time host of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, one of the host venues of the 1948 and 1954 World Series, and the site of the original Dawg Pound, Red Right 88, and The Drive.
Through most of its tenure as a baseball facility, the stadium was the largest in Major League Baseball by seating capacity, seating over 78,000 initially and over 74,000 in its final years. It was superseded only by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1958 to 1961, while it was the temporary home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and by Mile High Stadium in 1993, the temporary home of the expansion Colorado Rockies. For football, the stadium seated approximately 80,000 people, ranking as one of the larger seating capacities in the NFL.
Former Browns owner Art Modell took over control of the stadium from the city in the 1970s and while his organization made improvements to the facility, it continued to decline. The Indians played their final game at the stadium in October 1993 and moved to Jacobs Field the following season. Although plans were announced to renovate the stadium for use by the Browns, in 1995 Modell announced his intentions to move the team to Baltimore citing the state of Cleveland Stadium as a major factor. The Browns played their final game at the stadium in December 1995. As part of an agreement between Modell, the city of Cleveland, and the NFL, the Browns were officially deactivated for three seasons and the city was required to construct a new stadium on the Cleveland Stadium site. Cleveland Stadium was demolished in 1996 to make way for FirstEnergy Stadium, which opened in 1999. Much of the debris from the demolition was placed in Lake Erie to create an artificial reef.Cloyce Box
Cloyce Kennedy Box (August 24, 1923 – October 24, 1993) was an American football player and businessman. He played five years in the National Football League (NFL) with the Detroit Lions, was a member of NFL championship teams in 1952 and 1953, was selected as a second-team All-Pro in 1950 and a first-team All-Pro in 1952, and played in the 1951 and 1953 Pro Bowl games. On December 3, 1950, he set Detroit team records with 12 catches, four touchdown receptions, 24 points, and 302 receiving yards. He later became a successful businessman in the oil and gas business in Texas.Dick Stanfel
Richard Anthony Stanfel (July 20, 1927 – June 22, 2015) was an American football player and coach with a college and professional career spanning more than 50 years from 1948 to 1999. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 2016. He was also named to the National Football League (NFL) 1950s All-Decade Team.
A native of San Francisco, Stanfel served in the United States Army and later played college football on both offense and defense at the University of San Francisco from 1948 to 1950. He was selected as a first-team All-Coast defensive guard in 1950.
Stanfel was selected by the Detroit Lions with the 19th pick in the 1951 NFL Draft, missed the 1951 season due to injury, and then played seven seasons as an offensive guard for the Detroit Lions from 1952 to 1955 and Washington Redskins from 1956 to 1958. He was a key offensive player on the Lions' 1952 and 1953 NFL championship teams and was named the Most Valuable Player on the 1953 team. He was selected by the Associated Press as a first-team All-NFL player in five of his seven NFL seasons and played in five Pro Bowls.
Stanfel also spent more than 35 years as a football coach, principally as an offensive line coach. His coaching career included stints with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1959–1962), California Golden Bears (1963), Philadelphia Eagles (1964–1970), San Francisco 49ers (1971–1975), New Orleans Saints (1976–1980, 1997-1998), and Chicago Bears (1981–1992). Bears head coach Mike Ditka called Stanfel the best offensive line coach in football after the Bears led the NFL in rushing three straight years and won Super Bowl XX.Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker II (January 1, 1927 – September 27, 1998) was an American football player. He played college football as a halfback at Southern Methodist University (SMU), where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1948. Walker then played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Detroit Lions for six seasons, from 1950 to 1955.
Walker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. The Doak Walker Award, awarded annually since 1990 to the top running back in college football, is named after him.Jim Doran
James Robert Doran (August 11, 1927 – June 29, 1994) was a National Football League (NFL) wide receiver for the Detroit Lions (1951–1959) and the Dallas Cowboys (1960–1961). He played college football at Iowa State University. He was a two-way player, playing both on offense and defense. He played 94 games as a defensive lineman, usually defensive end, and 115 games as a tight end.Len Ford
Leonard Guy Ford Jr. (February 18, 1926 – March 14, 1972) was an American football player from 1944 to 1958. He played college football for the University of Michigan and professional football for the Los Angeles Dons, Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976 and the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1996.
Ford was an all-city athlete at his high school in Washington, D.C., and attended Morgan State University after graduating in 1944. After a brief stint in the U.S. Navy the following year, he transferred to Michigan, where he played on the Michigan Wolverines football team as an offensive and defensive end. He played for Michigan from 1945 to 1947 and was a member of the undefeated 1947 team that has been selected as the best team in the history of Michigan football.
Ford was passed over in all 32 rounds of the 1948 NFL Draft, but was selected by the Los Angeles Dons of the rival All-America Football Conference (AAFC), where he played for two seasons as an offensive and defensive end. After the AAFC dissolved in 1949, Ford played eight seasons as a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns. During those eight seasons, the Browns advanced to the NFL championship game seven times, won three championships, and allowed the fewest points in the NFL six times. Ford was one of the dominant defensive players of his era, having a rare combination of size and speed that helped him disrupt opposing offenses and force fumbles. He was selected as a first-team All-NFL player five times and played in four Pro Bowls.
Ford was traded to the Packers in 1958, but played there just one season before retiring. He worked for the Detroit recreation department from 1963 to 1972. He suffered a heart attack and died in 1972 at age 46.Louisiana Tech Bulldogs football
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs represent Louisiana Tech University in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) level. After 12 seasons in the Western Athletic Conference, Louisiana Tech began competing as a member of Conference USA in 2013. Since then, the Bulldogs have been coached by Skip Holtz and have won their last 5 consecutive bowl games. Since 1968, the Bulldogs have played their home games at Joe Aillet Stadium. Since the Bulldogs first season in 1901, Louisiana Tech has compiled an all-time record of 620 wins, 462 losses, and 39 ties. In 116 football seasons, the Bulldogs have won 3 Division II national championships, won 25 conference championships, and played in 27 postseason games including 12 major college bowl games.Yale Lary
Robert Yale Lary Sr. (November 24, 1930 – May 11, 2017) was an American football player, businessman, and politician.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979 and was also selected for the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team. He has also been inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
Lary played 11 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), all with the Detroit Lions, from 1952 to 1953 and from 1956 to 1964, missing the 1954 and 1955 seasons due to military service as an Army second lieutenant in Korea. He played at the safety, punter, and return specialist positions, appeared in nine Pro Bowl games, and was a first-team All-NFL player five times. He led the NFL in punting three times, and at the time of his retirement in 1964, his 44.3 yard punting average ranked second in NFL history, trailing only Sammy Baugh. He also totaled 50 NFL interceptions for 787 return yards, both of which ranked fifth in NFL history at the time of his retirement.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Lary played college football at Texas A&M University from 1949 to 1951 and was selected as a first-team defensive back on the 1951 All-Southwest Conference football team. He also played baseball at Texas A&M, led his team to the 1951 College World Series, and set a Southwest Conference record for doubles.
Detroit Lions 1952 NFL champions
|Division championships (4)|
|Conference championships (4)|
|League championships (4)|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold
|Culture and lore|
|Playoff appearances (28)|
|Division championships (12)|
|Conference championships (11)|
|League championships (8)|
|Hall of Fame inductees|
|Current league affiliations|
|Former league affiliation|
Championship seasons in bold
National Football League Championship Games (1933–present)
|NFL Championship Game|
|AFL Championship Game|
|AFL-NFL World Championship Game|
1 – From 1966 to 1969, the first four Super Bowls were "World Championship" games played between two independent professional football leagues, AFL and NFL, and when the league merged in 1970 the Super Bowl became the NFL Championship Game.
2 – Dates in the list denote the season, not the calendar year in which the championship game was played. For instance, Super Bowl XLI was played in 2007, but was the championship for the 2006 season.