1968 Cleveland Browns season
|1968 Cleveland Browns season|
|Head coach||Blanton Collier|
|Home field||Cleveland Stadium|
|Division place||1st NFL Century|
|Playoff finish||Won Eastern Conference Championship Game (Cowboys) 31-20
Lost NFL Championship Game (Colts) 0-34
The 1968 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 19th season with the National Football League. The Browns made it to the playoffs for the 2nd straight year thanks to an 8-game winning streak and the brilliant play of quarterback Bill Nelsen who replaced Frank Ryan as the starting quarterback prior to week 4 of their season.
In a relative sense Browns hadn't done much since 1965, when they lost to the Green Bay Packers 23–12 in the NFL Championship Game. They finished 9–5 in 1966 and '67, but made the playoffs only in the second year. However, it was a short stay, as the Dallas Cowboys blew them out 52–14 in the Eastern Conference Championship Game. So with a retooled roster the Browns headed into the 1968 season, hoping to get back into serious title contention. It worked. After a slow start in which they lost two of their first three games and three of their first five, the re-tooled Browns won eight in a row before falling 27–16 to the St. Louis Cardinals in a meaningless game in the regular-season finale. The result was a 10–4 mark, the Century Division crown (by the slimmest of margins over the 9–4–1 Cardinals) and a spot in the conference title game again opposite those same Cowboys.
Only this time, the Browns advanced, beating Dallas 31–20 to get to the league title game against the Baltimore Colts. The Colts, returning to Cleveland Stadium, where they were stunned by the Browns 27–0 in the championship contest four years before, got revenge with a shutout victory of their own, 34–0.
So it was the Colts and not the Browns who headed to Super Bowl III, where they were stunned once more, this time by the New York Jets, 16–7.
The key to the Browns' turnaround in 1968 was the insertion of Bill Nelsen at quarterback early in the season. Nelsen replaced Frank Ryan, the architect of that victory over the Colts in 1964. By '68, though, he was really banged up, battling shoulder problems. Nelsen had been acquired in an offseason trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was inspired by going to a team that had a chance to win. At the time, the Steelers were in the midst of a 6-year run without a playoff appearance.
Nelsen made an impact right away, helping to beat the Colts 30–20 to hand Baltimore its only loss in a 13–1 season.
The following were selected in the 1968 NFL Draft.
|1||21||Marvin Upshaw||Defensive end||Trinity|
|3||66||Reece Morrison||Running back||Texas State|
|5||134||Jackie Jackson||Running back||Clemson|
|6||152||Nate James||Defensive back||Florida A&M|
|7||186||Dale Brady||Running back||Memphis|
|8||212||Tom Schoen||Defensive back||Notre Dame|
|9||238||David Porter||Defensive tackle||Michigan|
|10||255||James Greer||Defensive end||Stephen F. Austin|
|10||267||Alvin Mitchell||Defensive back||Morgan State|
|13||348||Terry Sellers||Defensive back||Georgia|
|14||374||Edgar Whipps||Running back||Jackson State|
|16||429||Dick Sievert||Defensive end||Wisconsin-River Falls|
|17||455||Wayne McDuffie||Center||Florida State|
|1968 Cleveland Browns roster|
Rookies in italics
|1||August 9, 1968||at Los Angeles Rams||L 23–21||
|2||August 18, 1968||at San Francisco 49ers||W 31–17||
|3||August 24, 1968||at New Orleans Saints||L 40–27||
|4||August 30, 1968||at Buffalo Bills||W 22–12||
|5||September 7, 1968||Green Bay Packers||L 31–9||
Regular season schedule
|1||September 15, 1968||at New Orleans Saints||W 24–10||
|2||September 22, 1968||at Dallas Cowboys||L 28–7||
|3||September 29, 1968||Los Angeles Rams||L 24–6||
|4||October 5, 1968||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 31–24||
|5||October 13, 1968||St. Louis Cardinals||L 27–21||
|6||October 20, 1968||at Baltimore Colts||W 30–20||
|7||October 27, 1968||Atlanta Falcons||W 30–7||
|8||November 3, 1968||at San Francisco 49ers||W 33–21||
|9||November 10, 1968||New Orleans Saints||W 35–17||
|10||November 17, 1968||at Pittsburgh Steelers||W 45–24||
|11||November 24, 1968||Philadelphia Eagles||W 47–13||
|12||December 1, 1968||New York Giants||W 45–10||
|13||December 8, 1968||at Washington Redskins||W 24–21||
|14||December 14, 1968||at St. Louis Cardinals||L 27–16||
|Eastern Conference||December 21, 1968||Dallas Cowboys||W 31–20||
|NFL Championship||December 29, 1968||Baltimore Colts||L 34–0||
|St. Louis Cardinals||9||4||1||.692||5–0–1||8–1–1||325||289||W4|
|New Orleans Saints||4||9||1||.308||2–4||3–7||246||327||W1|
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.