1968 NFL Championship Game

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1968 NFL Championship Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Baltimore Colts 0 17 7 10 34
Cleveland Browns 0 0 0 0 0
Date December 29, 1968
Stadium Cleveland Municipal Stadium
City Cleveland, OH
Referee Bud Brubaker
Attendance 78,410
TV/Radio in the United States
TV Network CBS
TV Announcers Jack Buck, Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier
Radio Network CBS
Radio Announcers Bob Reynolds
Timeline
Previous game Next game
1967 1969

The 1968 National Football League championship game was the 36th annual championship game. The winner of the game would represent the NFL in the 3rd AFL-NFL World Championship Game also called the Super Bowl. The NFL title game was held December 29, 1968 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio.

Background[edit]

Baltimore Colts had finished the regular season with a record of 13–1 and won the Coastal Division. They defeated the Minnesota Vikings 24–14 in the Western Conference championship game. The Colts were led by their head coach Don Shula. This was the Colts 4th championship game appearance since joining the NFL in 1953.

Cleveland Browns had finished the regular season with a record of 10–4, were the only team to defeat Baltimore during the regular season, and won the Century Division. The Browns defeated the Dallas Cowboys 31–20 in the Eastern Conference championship game. The Browns were led by their head coach Blanton Collier and RB Leroy Kelly. This was the Browns 10th NFL championship game appearance since joining the NFL in 1950.

The 1968 game was a rematch of the 1964 title game.

Game summary[edit]

Baltimore Colts 34, Cleveland Browns 0

Baltimore held Cleveland to just 173 total yards as they avenge their only regular season loss of the year against the Browns with a dominating shutout win. Cleveland crossed midfield only twice, just once in each half, and kicker Don Cockroft missed three field goal attempts.

Things actually started out promising for Cleveland. Browns defensive back Ben Davis wiped out a scoring change for Baltimore on their opening drive when he intercepted a pass from Earl Morrall on the Cleveland 14-yard line. The Browns then drove to the Colts 35-yard line, with Bill Nelson completing passes to Paul Warfield and Milt Morin for gains of 16 and 22 yards. However, Nelson was dropped for a 7-yard loss on first down by Fred Miller and Ordell Braase. He managed to lead the team back to the 35 by the time they got to 4th down, but Cockroft 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked by defensive tackle Bubba Smith. The Colts then took over and drove to a 3-0 lead on a 28-yard field goal by Lou Michaels.

In the second quarter, Baltimore completely took over the game. Colts running back Tom Matte scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Colts a 10-0 lead. Later on, the Colts seemed to blow a scoring chance when tight end John Mackey lost a fumble that was recovered by Erich Barnes and returned 9 yards to the Browns 23. But on the next play, linebacker Mike Curtis intercepted a pass from Nelson on the 33, leading to Matte's 12-yard touchdown run that gave Baltimore a 17-0 lead going into halftime.

After halftime, Cleveland forced a punt and got the ball on their own 40, where they proceeded to drive to the Colts 38. But once again their drive stalled and Cockroft missed a 50-yard field goal attempt. He got another chance as a result of a penalty on the play, but missed again from 45 yards on his next attempt. After an exchange of punts, Baltimore got the ball on the Cleveland 48 and drove to a 24-0 lead on Matte's third touchdown of the day. Meanwhile, Nelson was benched and replaced by Frank Ryan, but this did nothing to improve Cleveland's misfortunes. On his first play, he fumbled the snap, and linebacker Don Shinnick recovered the ball on the Browns 20-yard line, leading to Michaels' second field goal, giving Baltimore a 27-0 lead on the second play of the 4th quarter. Ryan completed just 2 of 6 pass attempts for the rest of the game, while Colts running back Timmy Brown scored the final points on a 4-yard touchdown run.

Matte, an Ohio native, was the sole offensive star of the game, rushing for 88 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also catching 2 passes for 15 yards.[1] Scoring

  • BAL – FG Michaels 28 3–0 BAL
  • BAL – Matte 1 run (Michaels kick) 10–0 BAL
  • BAL – Matte 12 run (Michaels kick) 17–0 BAL
  • BAL – Matte 2 run (Michaels kick) 24–0 BAL
  • BAL – FG Michaels 10 27–0 BAL
  • BAL – Brown 4 run (Michaels kick) 34–0 BAL

References[edit]

[1] Chuck Heaton, "Browns Title Bid Ends, 34–0", Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 29, 1968, Browns history database retrieved December 12, 2007