The 1964 National Football League Championship Game was the 32nd annual championship game, held on December 27 at Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. With an attendance of 79,544, it was the first NFL title game to be televised by CBS.
The game marked the last championship won by a major-league professional sports team from Cleveland until 2016 when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals. As of 2018 this is the last championship ever won by the Cleveland Browns.
|1964 NFL Championship Game|
|Date||December 27, 1964|
|Stadium||Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Ken Coleman, Chuck Thompson, Frank Gifford|
|Radio in the United States|
|Announcers||Jack Drees, Jim Morse|
The Baltimore Colts finished the 1964 regular season with a record of 12–2 and handily won the Western Conference for the first time since 1959, clinching the title with three games remaining; the runner-up Green Bay Packers were at 8–5–1. The Colts were led by second-year head coach Don Shula and quarterback Johnny Unitas. This was the Colts' third NFL championship game appearance since joining the National Football League in 1953, seeking to win their first since repeating in 1959.
The Cleveland Browns finished the regular season with a record of 10–3–1, winning the Eastern Conference by a half game over the St. Louis Cardinals at 9–3–2. The Browns were led by their head coach Blanton Collier, quarterback Frank Ryan, running back Jim Brown, and receivers Gary Collins and Paul Warfield. This was the Browns' eighth NFL championship game appearance since joining the NFL in 1950, and the first since 1957.
The first half went scoreless, as both teams struggled to move the ball with a light snow and driving wind hampering their efforts. Baltimore drove to midfield but lost the ball on a fumble by fullback Jerry Hill. The Browns then moved to the Colt 35 but Paul Warfield slipped going for a Ryan pass and the ball was intercepted by Colt linebacker Don Shinnick. As the second quarter began, Baltimore had moved deep into Browns territory. The Colts attempted a 27-yard field goal by Lou Michaels, but holder Bob Boyd had to reach for the snap from center and was hauled down behind the line of scrimmage. Near the end of the first half Unitas got another drive going into Cleveland territory. However, from the Brown 46 he threw slightly behind tight end John Mackey, who could only deflect the pass; it was intercepted by Vince Costello. The first half ended after Ryan missed on a long pass to Paul Warfield.
Having held their own with Baltimore in the first half, the Browns changed their offensive and defensive tactics. With the wind at his back Browns kicker Lou Groza booted the second half kickoff well beyond the end zone. The Cleveland rush put pressure on Unitas and the Colts had to punt into the wind. With good field position at the Colt 48 the Browns got a first down on a screen pass to Jim Brown. The Colt defense stiffened and Groza kicked a field goal from the 43. Baltimore could not move and the Browns went on the attack again. From the Cleveland 36 Jim Brown took a pitchout around the left side and nearly went all the way. Safety Jerry Logan finally hauled him down from behind at the Colt 18. Ryan dropped back and fired a pass between the goalposts to the leaping Gary Collins for the game's first touchdown. The momentum had clearly swung to Cleveland.
Baltimore's Tony Lorick made the bad decision to run the kickoff out of the end zone and was tackled at the Baltimore 11. A clipping penalty moved the Colts back further and they soon had to punt again into the stiff wind. The kick went out of bounds on the Baltimore 39 and Ryan went right back to work. The Browns lost yardage on a broken reverse play, but Ryan dropped back from the 42 and found Collins all alone down the middle at the 5. The big flanker waltzed into the end zone and the Browns were up 17-0.
Unitas finally got the Colts across midfield against the aroused Browns defense, but Lenny Moore fumbled a handoff at the Cleveland 47 and the Browns recovered. Jim Brown rumbled 23 yards with another pitchout to the Colt 14 as the third quarter ended. Ryan hit Paul Warfield at the 1 yard line but the Colts then held. Groza hit a short field goal from a sharp angle to the right to make the score 20-0. Baltimore's troubles continued as Unitas threw deep to Jimmy Orr on the sidelines at the Cleveland 15, but Orr could not get the ball under control before he fell out of bounds. The Colts had to punt again. The Browns moved to their 49 and Ryan threw deep to Gary Collins. With Bob Boyd all over him Collins made the catch at the Colt 10, kept his balance, and scored for the third time. As the fourth quarter wound down and with the Browns on the move again, the game was halted with 27 seconds remaining with thousands of fans surging onto the field.
The Browns dominated the statistics over the favored Colts. Unitas completed 12 of 20 passes for only 95 yards with two interceptions. The Colts managed only 92 yards rushing. Frank Ryan hit on 11 of 18 tosses for 206 yards and three TDs. The Browns' Collins set a title game record with three touchdown catches in one game, and grabbed five passes for 130 yards total. Lou Groza kicked field goals of 42 and 10 yards, and Jim Brown carried the ball 27 times for 114 yards.
This was also the last game in which penalty flags in NFL games were white. The league switched to bright yellow flags the next season.
The gate receipts for the game were about $635,000 and the television money was $1.9 million. Each player on the winning Browns team received about $8,000, while Colts players made around $5,000 each. This was about triple the amount for the players' shares in the AFL championship game.
The 1964 American Football League Championship Game was the American Football League's fifth championship game, played at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, December 26.The Buffalo Bills (12–2) of the Eastern Division hosted the defending AFL champion San Diego Chargers (8–5–1) of the Western Division. The two had met twice in the regular season and the Bills won both, most recently by three points in San Diego a month earlier on Thanksgiving Day. Hall of fame wide receiver Lance Alworth of the Chargers was injured in the final regular season game (left knee hyperextension) and did not play. The Chargers had lost three of their last four games to end the regular season, and the Bills were slight favorites to win the title at home; with Alworth out they became strong favorites.1964 Baltimore Colts season
The 1964 Baltimore Colts season was the 12th season for the team in the National Football League. The Colts finished the regular season with a record of 12 wins and 2 losses and finished first in the Western Conference. They clinched with three games remaining for the first title since 1959.Baltimore met the Cleveland Browns (10–3–1) of the Eastern Conference in the NFL Championship Game in Cleveland, won by the underdog Browns, 27–0.1964 Cleveland Browns season
The 1964 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 19th season, and 15th season with the National Football League. The Browns won the NFL Championship, despite having not made the playoffs in six seasons.1965 NFL Championship Game
The 1965 National Football League Championship Game was the 33rd championship game for the National Football League (NFL), played on January 2, 1966, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was the first NFL championship game played in January, televised in color, and the last one played before the Super Bowl era.
The game matched the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Browns (11–3), the defending NFL champions, and the Green Bay Packers (10–3–1) of the Western Conference. A week earlier, the Packers defeated the Baltimore Colts in a tiebreaker Western Conference playoff at County Stadium in Milwaukee, while the Browns were idle. The Packers were making their first appearance in the championship game in three years, since their consecutive wins in 1961 and 1962. Green Bay was relegated to the third place Playoff Bowl the previous two seasons, with a victory over the Browns and a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The home field for the NFL title game alternated between the conferences; in odd-numbered seasons, the Western team was the host. Home field advantage was not implemented in the NFL playoffs until 1975.
With the 23–12 victory, the Packers won their ninth NFL title, sixth in the championship game era.1965 Pro Bowl
The 1965 Pro Bowl was the NFL's fifteenth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1964 season. The game was played on January 10, 1965, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in front of 60,698. The coaches for the game were Don Shula of Baltimore Colts for the West and Blanton Collier of Cleveland Browns for the East. The West team won by a final score was 34–14.The West dominated the East, 411 to 187 in total yards. West quarterback Fran Tarkenton of the Minnesota Vikings was named "Back of the Game" after he completed 8 of 13 passes for 172 yards. At one point during the game, the West backfield was all-Vikings: Tarkenton (No. 10), Tommy Mason (No. 20), and Bill Brown (No. 30).
"Lineman of the Game" honors went to the West’s Terry Barr of the Detroit Lions; Barr had 106 yards receiving on three receptions.Frank Ryan, the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns' who had defeated the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship Game, was knocked out of the Pro Bowl when he was sacked in the third quarter by a group of defenders including the Colts' Gino Marchetti. Some thought that Marchetti, who was playing in his tenth Pro Bowl, was trying to teach Ryan a lesson for considering running up the score against the Colts in the championship game. Marchetti denied this, and he and Ryan remained on good terms.Bobby Boyd
Robert Dean Boyd (December 3, 1937 – August 28, 2017) was a National Football League (NFL) cornerback who played for the Baltimore Colts in a nine-year career from 1960 to 1968.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.Cleveland sports curse
The Cleveland sports curse was a sports superstition involving the city of Cleveland, Ohio, and its major league professional sports teams, centered on the failure to win a championship in any major league sport from 1964 to 2016. During those 52 years, the city's pro teams endured an unprecedented 147-season championship drought.
That drought began after the Browns of the National Football League (NFL) defeated the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship Game, two seasons before the first Super Bowl. Cleveland's other pro teams included the Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA); the Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB); and the short-lived Barons franchise of the National Hockey League (NHL).Cleveland's championship drought finally ended when the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, an event widely interpreted as having broken the curse.Ernie Green
Ernest "Ernie" Green (born October 15, 1938) is a former American football fullback for the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League.Frank Messer
Wallace Frank Messer (August 8, 1925 – November 13, 2001) was an American sportscaster that was best known for his 18 seasons announcing New York Yankees baseball games, and as the recognizable emcee voice of various Yankee Stadium festivities during a three decade span.Fred Miller (defensive lineman)
Fred David Miller (born August 8, 1940) was an American football defensive tackle in the National Football League from 1963 through 1972. During that span, he appeared in 3 world championship games for the Baltimore Colts: the 1964 NFL championship game against the Browns, Super Bowl III against the Jets, and Super Bowl V against the Cowboys. He played college football at Louisiana State University.
Miller was born in Homer, Louisiana on August 8, 1940. His father was a sharecropper.He graduated from Homer High School in his hometown in 1958. A four-year football letterman, he mostly played center and tackle and was a starter in his last three years at the school.
With both the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) competing against each other to acquire the best available talent, Miller was picked in both drafts in 1962. He was selected by the NFL's Baltimore Colts in the 7th round (93rd overall) and the AFL's Oakland Raiders in the 26th round (201st overall). He eventually signed with the Colts.Gary Collins (American football)
Gary James Collins (born August 20, 1940) is a former American football wide receiver and punter who played for the Cleveland Browns from 1962 to 1971.Jim Graner
James R. Graner (February 21, 1919 – January 15, 1976) was the weeknight sports anchor for Cleveland NBC affiliate KYW-TV (later WKYC) beginning in 1957. He also served as color commentator for the Cleveland Browns radio network, most notably alongside Cleveland sportscaster Gib Shanley.
Graner had operated in both capacities for nearly twenty years when brain cancer took his life in 1976.John Morrow (American football)
John Melville Morrow Jr. (April 27, 1933 – October 21, 2017) was an American football player. He played college football at the University of Michigan from 1953 to 1955 and professional football for the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns from 1956 to 1966.John Wooten
John B. Wooten (born December 5, 1936) is a former American football guard who played nine professional seasons in the National Football League (NFL) for the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins. Wooten played college football at the University of Colorado and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1959 NFL Draft.Monte Clark
Monte Dale Clark (January 24, 1937 – September 16, 2009) was an American football player who served as head coach for two National Football League teams: the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions. He played college football at the University of Southern California.Paul Warfield
Paul Dryden Warfield (born November 28, 1942) is a former professional American football wide receiver who played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1964 to 1977 for the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, except for a year in the World Football League (WFL) with the Memphis Southmen. He was known for his speed, fluid moves, grace, and jumping ability. A consistent big-play threat throughout his career, his 20.1 average yards per reception is the highest in NFL history among players with at least 300 receptions.
As a star halfback in college for the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, Warfield was twice named to the All-Big Ten Conference team. He was drafted in the first round of the 1964 NFL Draft by the Browns and converted into a wide receiver. After three Pro Bowl appearances with the Browns, he was traded to the Dolphins, with whom he made another five Pro Bowl appearances. He then spent one season in the WFL with the Southmen before returning to the Browns for his final two seasons of play.
Warfield played in seven championship games in his professional career—four NFL Championship Games with the Browns and three Super Bowls with the Dolphins—and earned victories in the 1964 NFL Championship Game, Super Bowl VII, and Super Bowl VIII. After his playing career, he served as a scout and adviser for the Browns for several years. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983, and is a member of the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor and the Miami Dolphins Honor Roll.Sid Williams
Sidney Williams (born March 3, 1942) is a diplomat and former American football linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Colts, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played college football at Southern University.Steve Stonebreaker
Thornton Steve Stonebreaker (October 28, 1938 – March 28, 1995) was a professional American football linebacker in the National Football League. He played seven seasons for the Minnesota Vikings (1962–1963), the Baltimore Colts (1964–1966), and the New Orleans Saints (1967–1968). Son Mike also played in the NFL.
Stonebreaker played all 14 games throughout his career except for 1966 and 1967 when he played only 4 and 10 games, respectively. He played in the 1964 NFL Championship Game as a member of the 12–2 Colts but lost 27–0 to Cleveland.
Stonebreaker committed suicide on March 28, 1995 by subjecting himself to carbon monoxide poisoning from a car exhaust.
Cleveland Browns 1964 NFL champions
|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
|Division championships (16)|
|Conference championships (7)|
|League championships (5)|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold
National Football League Championship Games (1933–present)
|NFL Championship Game|
|AFL Championship Game|
|AFL-NFL World Championship Games |
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.
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