1957 NFL Championship Game

1957 NFL Championship Game
1234 Total
Cleveland Browns 0770 14
Detroit Lions 17141414 59
Date December 29, 1957
Stadium Briggs Stadium, Detroit
Referee Ron Gibbs
Attendance 55,263
TV in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Van Patrick, Ken Coleman,
and Red Grange
Radio in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Ray Scott, Bill McColgan
Location in the United States

The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game, held on December 29 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.[1][2][3][4]

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.[5][6] 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 were favored by three points,[7][8] but the home underdog Lions scored two touchdowns in each quarter and won in a rout, 59–14.[1][2][3][4]

Starting lineups

Detroit Position Cleveland
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

Eleven individuals (including coaches and administration) who were involved in this game are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[9] Another Lions Hall-of-Famer, QB Bobby Layne, was injured and did not play in the game.

Detroit Lions

Cleveland Browns

Game summary

The home underdog Lions were without starting quarterback Layne due to a broken ankle three weeks earlier against the Browns.[5][6][8] 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.[10] 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,[2][11] and won by 45 points, 59–14.[1][2][3]

Scoring summary

Sunday, December 29, 1957
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST[8]


  • Referee: Ron Gibbs
  • Umpire: Joe Connell
  • Head Linesman: Dan Tehan
  • Back Judge: Cleo Diehl
  • Field Judge: Don Looney

The NFL had five game officials in 1957; the line judge was added in 1965 and the side judge in 1978.

Players' shares

The gross receipts for the game, including radio and television rights, were just under US$594,000, the highest to date. Each player on the winning Lions team received $4,295, while Browns players made $2,750 each.[2][3]

Lions' last title

The Lions have not appeared in an NFL championship game (including the Super Bowl) since this title 59 years ago; the closest was the 1991 team, which lost the NFC Championship Game 41–10 to the Washington Redskins, who went on to win Super Bowl XXVI.


  1. 1 2 3 Johnson, Chuck (December 30, 1957). "Rote's passes, play calling smash Cleveland, 59 to 14". Milwaukee Journal. p. 7, part 2.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Sell, Jack (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59 to 14, to win title". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 18.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Jones, Eddie T. (December 30, 1957). "Browns show off collapsing defense". Toldeo Blade. Ohio. p. 11.
  4. 1 2 Strickler, George (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59-14; win title". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 4.
  5. 1 2 "Lions lose Layne but win, 20-7". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 9, 1957. p. 26.
  6. 1 2 Jones, Eddie T. (December 9, 1957). "Lions roar back into title chase". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 18.
  7. 1 2 Strickler, George (December 29, 1957). "Browns 3-point favorites in NFL playoff today". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 2.
  8. 1 2 3 Lea, Bud (December 29, 1957). "Lions face Browns for pro title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1C.
  9. Ted Maher, Bob Gill (1997). The Pro Football Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan Inc. ISBN 0-02-861989-7.
  10. "Lions thrilling rally wins playoff, 31-27". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. 20.
  11. 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

Coordinates: 42°19′55″N 83°04′08″W / 42.332°N 83.069°W / 42.332; -83.069

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