Lions beat Browns in '52 Championship game

General Published on : 6/30/2009

The Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns faced each other in the National Football League championship game four times during the 1950s. In 1952, in the first of three straight league title games to feature the two clubs, the Browns hosted their counterparts from the Motor City. 

Rule 7, Section 5, Article 2, Item 1

A forward pass from behind line may be touched or caught only by an eligible player.

Team A players who are on either end of line (other than a center, guard, or tackle) or who are at least (legally) one yard behind line at snap are eligible unless they go out of bounds (prior to or during pass) or unless and until one of them is the first player to touch pass, in which case, he only, continues to be eligible for A. However, if a B player touches pass first, or simultaneously with or subsequent to its having been touched by only one eligible A player, then all A players become and remain eligible included any who may have been out of bounds.

Cleveland was making its third consecutive appearance in the championship looking to avenge a loss to the Los Angeles Rams a year earlier. Meanwhile, the Lions made it to the title game for just second time in franchise history and the first time since winning the 1935 NFL title.
{GALLERY}The Browns’ potent offensive attack managed to outgain the Lions in total yards, 384-258. But, Detroit’s defense saved the day. Five times the Lions stopped Cleveland inside their 25-yard-line. The most spectacular stand came in the fourth quarter. After Marion Motley ran 43 yards to the five-yard-line, the Lions defense tackled him five yards behind the line of scrimmage on the next play. The unit followed that play by sacking quarterback Otto Graham for a 12-yard loss. The Browns gained a yard on third down but its fourth down pass aempt fell incomplete.

On Cleveland’s final drive, Graham found Ray Renfro in the end zone but the receiver deflected the ball to teammate Pete Brewster. The catch was ruled to be illegal because two offensive players made contact with the football before a defensive player (see 1952 Rule at right). The ball was turned over to the Lions who ran out the clock to preserve the win.

Hall of Fame halfback Doak Walker led Detroit’s attack on offense by rushing for 97 yards and one TD. His 67-yard TD run in the third quarter proved to be the game-winner. The Lions victory was its third over the Browns that season. Detroit beat Cleveland 28-21 in preseason and 17-6 during the regular season.

Detroit 0 7 7 3 - 17
Cleveland 0 0 7 0 - 7
Det— Layne 2 run (Harder kick)
Det— Walker 67 run (Harder kick)
Cle— Jagarde 7 run (Groza kick)
Det— FG Harder 36
Lions – Jack Christiansen, Lou Creekmur, Yale Lary, Bobby Layne, Doak Walker
Browns – Paul Brown, Len Ford, Frank Gatski, Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Dante Lavelli, Marion Motley, Bill Willis

*Note: Don Shula, enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach, was a player for the Browns.

Statistic Detroit Lions Cleveland Browns
First Downs- Rushing 8 15
First Downs- Passing 2 7
First Downs- Penalties 0 0
Total First Downs 10 22
Net Yards Gained- Rushing 199 227
Net Yards Gained- Passing 59 157
Yards Gained Passing 68 191
Yards Lost Att. Passing 9 34
Total Net Yards Gained 258 384
Passes Attempted 10 36
Passes Completed 7 20
Passes Intercepted By 1 0
Number of Punts 6 3
Average Distance Punts 40.8 43.3
Yards Punt Returns 18 18
Fumbles 0 1
Opponents Fumbles Recovered 1 0
Penalties 3 7
Yards Lost Penalties 25 65
Finance Amount
Paid Attendance 50,934
Gross Receipts (including radio and TV) $314,318.50
Taxes and Rentals $50,174.79
Operating Expenses $15,507.83
Net Receipts $248,635.88
Player's Pool (70% of Net) $174,045.12
Winning Players' Pool (Detroit Lions) $93,984.37
Losing Players' Pool (Cleveland Browns) $62,656.24
Each Winning Player's Share (Detroit Lions) $2,274.77
Each Losing Player's Share (Cleveland Browns) $1,712.49
Pool for Sectional Second Place Clubs (Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York) $17,404.51
Detroit Club Received $18,647.69
Cleveland Club Received $18,647.69
League Received $37,199.67