The Detroit Lions had finished the 1953 season with a record of 10–2 and the Western Conference title. The Lions were led by quarterback Bobby Layne and running back Doak Walker.
The Cleveland Browns had finished the regular season with a record of 11–1 and won the Eastern Conference. The Browns were led by their head coach Paul Brown and quarterback Otto Graham. This was the Browns' fourth NFL championship game appearance since joining the NFL in 1950.
The Lions, considered the underdog team, put all their strength and agility into one final effort to become the third team in National League history to win two championships in a row. The Lions struck first with a Doak Walker touchdown, as the Lions and Browns would both score field goals before half time. But the Browns would score thirteen straight points in the second half to take the lead.
Trailing by six points with four minutes and 10 seconds of play remaining, the Lions started from their own 20-yard line and fought their way 80 yards in eight plays, the touchdown coming on a 33-yard pass from Bobby Layne to Jim Doran in the end zone, with Walker's ensuing extra point giving the Lions the lead.
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.