1945 NFL Championship Game
The Rams try to stay warm on the sideline at Cleveland Municipal Stadium during the 1945 NFL Championship Game.
|Date||December 16, 1945|
|Stadium||Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio|
|Radio in the United States|
The 1945 National Football League Championship Game was the 13th NFL championship game. The Cleveland Rams defeated the Washington Redskins, 15–14, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 16.
This was the last game before the Rams moved west to Los Angeles, California. One play which provided the Rams' margin of victory led to a significant rule change in professional football. Additionally, It was the coldest NFL championship game up to that time, with a temperature of −8 °F (−22 °C).
In the first quarter, the Redskins had the ball at their own 5-yard line. Dropping back into the end zone, quarterback Sammy Baugh threw, but the ball hit the goal post (which at the time were on the goal line instead of at the back of the end zone) and bounced back to the ground in the end zone. Under the rules at the time, this was ruled as a safety and thus gave the Rams a 2–0 lead.
In the second quarter, Baugh suffered bruised ribs and was replaced by Frank Filchock. Filchock threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Steve Bagarus to give the Redskins a 7–2 lead. But the Rams scored just before halftime when rookie quarterback Bob Waterfield threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jim Benton. Waterfield's ensuing extra point was partially blocked, with the ball teetering on the crossbar, but it dropped over to give Cleveland a 9–7 lead.
In the third quarter, the Rams increased their lead when Jim Gillette scored on a 44-yard touchdown reception, but this time the extra point was missed. The Redskins then came back to cut their deficit to 15–14 with Bob Seymour's 8-yard touchdown catch from Filchock. In the fourth quarter, Washington kicker Joe Aguirre missed two field goals attempts, of 46 and 31 yards, that could have won the game.
But it was the safety that proved to be the margin of victory. Redskins owner George Preston Marshall was so mad at the outcome that he became a major force in passing the following major rule change after the season: A forward pass that strikes the goal posts is automatically ruled incomplete. This later became known as the "Baugh/Marshall Rule".
- Referee: Ronald Gibbs
- Umpire: Harry Robb
- Head Linesman: Charlie Berry
- Field Judge: Bill Downes
Total revenue generated by the championship game totaled $164,542, which included $15,081 for radio broadcast rights, a new record. Of this total, $95,261 was allotted to the players, resulting of winners' shares of about $1,409 per player for the victorious Rams and $902 per man for the losing Redskins.
|CLE – Safety, Baugh's pass from end zone hit goal post||CLE 2–0|
|WAS – Bagarus 38 pass from Filchock (Aguirre kick)||WAS 7–2|
|CLE – Benton 37 pass from Waterfield (Waterfield kick)||CLE 9–7|
|CLE – Gillette 44 pass from Waterfield (kick failed)||CLE 15–7|
|WAS – Seymour 8 pass from Filchock (Aguirre kick)||CLE 15–14|
|no scoring||CLE 15–14|
First downs: Rams 14, Redskins 8
Yards rushing: Rams 44 carries for 180 yards, Redskins 34 carries for 35 yards
Passing: Rams 11-for-27 for 192 yards (2 TDs), Redskins 9-for-20 for 179 yards (2 TDs)
Return yardage: Rams 131, Redskins 155
Fumbles-Lost: Rams 1-1, Redskins 1-0
Penalties: Rams 6 for 60 yards, Redskins 4 for 29 yards
- Prell, Edward (December 17, 1945). "Rams beat Redskins, 15-14, for pro title". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 21.
- "32,178 fans see Cleveland win pro grid crown by downing Washington, 15-14". Youngstown Vindicator. Ohio. Associated Press. December 17, 1945. p. 10.
- Hughes, Carl (December 17, 1945). "Freak breaks win Rams pro title". Pittsburgh Press. p. 20.
- Kuechle, Oliver E. (December 17, 1945). "Cleveland Rams squeak out 15-14 victory over Redskins". Milwaukee Journal. p. 6, part 2.
- Feder, Sam (December 17, 1945). "Freak play brings pro grid crown to Rams". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. p. 22.
- "Rams transfer to Los Angeles". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. January 13, 1946. p. 1, sports.
- Howard Roberts (1953). "Cleveland Before Brown". The Story of Pro Football. Rand McNally & Company. pp. 95–96. LCN 53-9336.
- "NFL Championship Games: 1945: Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Rams," Golden Football Magazine, http://goldenrankings.com/
- "Money records set in pro title game". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. December 17, 1945. p. 20.
- Bruce Nash and Allen Zullo, The Football Hall of Shame. New York: Pocket Books, 1986; pp. 68–69.
- The Sporting News Complete Super Bowl Book 1995. St. Louis, MO: Sporting News Publishing Co., 1995; pp. 395–396.