1957 NFL Championship Game
|Date||December 29, 1957|
|Stadium||Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan|
|Favorite||Cleveland by 3 points|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Van Patrick, Ken Coleman, Red Grange|
|Radio in the United States|
|Network||NBC, WGAR, WWJ|
|Announcers||Ray Scott, Bill McColgan|
The Detroit Lions (8–4), winners of the Western Conference, hosted the Cleveland Browns (9–2–1), champions of the Eastern Conference. Detroit had won the regular season game 20–7 three weeks earlier on December 8, also at Briggs Stadium, but lost quarterback Bobby Layne with a broken right ankle late in the first half. Reserve quarterback Tobin Rote, a starter the previous year with Green Bay, filled in for Layne and won that game with Cleveland, the next week at Chicago, and the tiebreaker playoff game at San Francisco.
It was the fourth pairing of the two teams in the championship game; they met previously in 1952, 1953, and 1954. The Browns, idle the previous week, were favored by three points, but the home underdog Lions scored two touchdowns in each quarter and won in a rout, 59–14.
Until 2006, this was the last time that major professional teams from Michigan and Ohio met in a postseason game (or series). As of 2018, this was the last playoff game played in the city of Detroit other than Super Bowl XL in February 2006. The Lions' other two home playoff games since 1957 (1991 and 1993) were at the Pontiac Silverdome in suburban Pontiac.
|Jim Doran||LE||Pete Brewster|
|Lou Creekmur||LT||Lou Groza|
|Harley Sewell||LG||Herschel Forester|
|Frank Gatski||C||Art Hunter|
|Stan Campbell||RG||Fred Robinson|
|Ken Russell||RT||Mike McCormack|
|Steve Junker||RE||Preston Carpenter|
|Tobin Rote||QB||Tommy O'Connell|
|Gene Gedman||LHB||Ray Renfro|
|Hopalong Cassady||RHB||Lew Carpenter|
|John Henry Johnson||FB||Jim Brown|
|Darris McCord||LDE||Bill Quinlan|
|Ray Krouse||LDT||Bob Gain|
|Gil Mains||RDT||Don Colo|
|Gene Cronin||RDE||Len Ford|
|Bob Long (linebacker)||LLB||Galen Fiss|
|Joe Schmidt||MLB||Vince Costello|
|Roger Zatkoff||RLB||Walt Michaels|
|Carl Karilivacz||DB||Junior Wren|
|Jack Christiansen||DB||Ken Konz|
|Yale Lary||DB||Warren Lahr|
|Jim David||DB||Don Paul|
Players in the Hall of Fame
Twelve individuals (including coaches and administration) who were involved in this game are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lions' QB Bobby Layne was injured earlier in the month and did not play.
The home underdog Lions were without starting quarterback Layne due to a broken ankle three weeks earlier against the Browns. Backup quarterback Tobin Rote filled in admirably following Layne's injury, winning every game, including a 24-point rally in the tiebreaker playoff over the 49ers the previous week. In his eighth season, Rote threw four touchdown passes in the title game, completing 12 of 19 passes for 280 yards, and also ran for a touchdown. Browns quarterbacks Tommy O'Connell and Milt Plum, on the other hand hit on a combined total of 9 of 22 passes for 112 yards. Taking full advantage of a pass interception and a fumble, Detroit ran up a 17–0 lead in the first quarter. Rookie running back Jim Brown gave the Cleveland rooters some hope with a 29-yard touchdown run at the start of the second period.
Things went from bad to worse for the Browns, hampered by injuries to quarterbacks O'Connell and Plum. The Lions romped for 14 points in each of the last three quarters, and won by 45 points, 59–14. In their final six quarters of play (including their previous divisional playoff), the Lions outscored their opponents 83-17.
- First quarter
- Second quarter
- Third quarter
- Fourth quarter
The gross receipts for the game, including radio and television rights, were just under $594,000, the highest to date. Each player on the winning Lions team received $4,295, while Browns players made $2,750 each.
Lions' last title
The Lions have not appeared in an NFL championship game (including the Super Bowl) since this title 62 years ago. It was their last postseason appearance until 1970 and their last postseason home game and victory until 1991. That was also the only time the Lions have advanced as far as the Conference Championship game -- losing the NFC Championship Game 41–10 to the Washington Redskins, who went on to win Super Bowl XXVI.
- YouTube – 1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 1
- YouTube – 1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 2
- Lea, Bud (December 29, 1957). "Lions face Browns for pro title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1C.
- "Browns oppose Detroit today for NFL title". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. December 29, 1957. p. 24.
- Berry, Jack (December 30, 1957). "Lions overcome many obstacles on way to title". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). United Press. p. 14.
- Johnson, Chuck (December 30, 1957). "Rote's passes, play calling smash Cleveland, 59 to 14". Milwaukee Journal. p. 7, part 2.
- Sell, Jack (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59 to 14, to win title". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 18.
- Jones, Eddie T. (December 30, 1957). "Browns show off collapsing defense". Toledo Blade. 9Ohio). p. 11.
- Strickler, George (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59-14; win title". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 4.
- Maule, Tex (January 6, 1958). "All hail the lusty Lions". Sports Illustrated. p. 8.
- "Lions lose Layne but win, 20-7". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 9, 1957. p. 26.
- Jones, Eddie T. (December 9, 1957). "Lions roar back into title chase". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). p. 18.
- Strickler, George (December 29, 1957). "Browns 3-point favorites in NFL playoff today". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 2.
- Ted Maher, Bob Gill (1997). The Pro Football Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan Inc. ISBN 0-02-861989-7.
- "Lions thrilling rally wins playoff, 31-27". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. 20.
- Chuck Heaton, Lions Crush Browns, 59–14, Cleveland Plain Dealer December 29, 1957, Plain Dealer Browns' History Database Accessed December 12, 2007, http://www.cleveland.com/brownshistory/plaindealer/index.ssf?/browns/more/history/19571229BROWNS.html Archived June 17, 2012, at WebCite