1957 NFL Championship Game

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

1957 NFL Championship Game
1234 Total
Cleveland Browns 0770 14
Detroit Lions 17141414 59
DateDecember 29, 1957
StadiumBriggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan
Hall of Famers
Browns: Paul Brown (coach/gm), Jim Brown, Len Ford, Lou Groza, Henry Jordan, Mike McCormack
Lions: Jack Christiansen, Lou Creekmur, Frank Gatski, John Henry Johnson, Yale Lary, Bobby Layne, Joe Schmidt
TV in the United States
AnnouncersVan Patrick, Ken Coleman, Red Grange
Radio in the United States
AnnouncersRay Scott, Bill McColgan
Detroit is located in the United States
Detroit  is located in Michigan

The 1957 NFL Championship Game was the 25th annual championship game, held on December 29 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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.[7][8] 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, idle the previous week, were favored by three points,[9][10][11] but the home underdog Lions scored two touchdowns in each quarter and won in a rout, 59–14.[2][3][4][5][6]

Until 2006, this was the last time that major professional teams from Michigan and Ohio met in a postseason game (or series) in any sport. As of 2022, this is the last NFL playoff game played in the city of Detroit other than Super Bowl XL in February 2006. The Lions' other two home playoff games since (1991 and 1993) were at the Silverdome in suburban Pontiac. This also remains as the Lions' fourth and most recent league title and most recent championship appearance (including the Super Bowl) as of the 2022 season, starting a sixty-six year championship drought for the Lions.

Starting lineups[edit]

Hall of Fame‡

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 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[edit]

Of those listed above, Lions' QB Bobby Layne was injured earlier in the month and did not play, and future Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Henry Jordan was a rookie for the Browns.

Game summary[edit]

The home underdog Lions were without starting quarterback Layne due to a broken ankle three weeks earlier against the Browns.[7][8][9] 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.[12] 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,[3][13] and won by 45 points, 59–14.[2][3][4] In their final six quarters of play (including their previous divisional playoff), the Lions outscored their opponents 83-17.

Scoring summary[edit]

Sunday, December 29, 1957
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST[9]

  • First quarter
    • DET – FG Jim Martin, 31 yards, 3–0 DET
    • DET – Tobin Rote 1-yard run (Martin kick), 10–0 DET
    • DET – Gene Gedman 1-yard run (Martin kick), 17–0 DET
  • Second quarter
  • Third quarter
    • CLE – Lew Carpenter 5-yard run (Groza kick), 31–14 DET
    • DET – Jim Doran 78-yard pass from Rote (Martin kick), 38–14 DET
    • DET – Junker 23-yard pass from Rote (Martin kick), 45–14 DET
  • Fourth quarter


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

Players' shares[edit]

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

Lions' last title[edit]

The Lions have not appeared in an NFL championship game (including the Super Bowl) since this title 66 years ago. It was their last postseason appearance until 1970, and their last postseason home game and victory until 1991.

1991 was also the only time the Lions have advanced as far as the Conference Championship game, losing the NFC Championship Game 41–10 to the Washington Redskins, who went on to win Super Bowl XXVI.


  • YouTube – 1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 1
  • YouTube – 1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 2


  1. ^ Berry, Jack (December 30, 1957). "Lions overcome many obstacles on way to title". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). United Press. p. 14.
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, Chuck (December 30, 1957). "Rote's passes, play calling smash Cleveland, 59 to 14". Milwaukee Journal. p. 7, part 2.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sell, Jack (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59 to 14, to win title". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 18.
  4. ^ a b c d Jones, Eddie T. (December 30, 1957). "Browns show off collapsing defense". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 11.
  5. ^ a b Strickler, George (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59-14; win title". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 4.
  6. ^ a b Maule, Tex (January 6, 1958). "All hail the lusty Lions". Sports Illustrated. p. 8.
  7. ^ a b "Lions lose Layne but win, 20-7". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 9, 1957. p. 26.
  8. ^ a b Jones, Eddie T. (December 9, 1957). "Lions roar back into title chase". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). p. 18.
  9. ^ a b c Lea, Bud (December 29, 1957). "Lions face Browns for pro title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1C.
  10. ^ "Browns oppose Detroit today for NFL title". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. December 29, 1957. p. 24.
  11. ^ a b Strickler, George (December 29, 1957). "Browns 3-point favorites in NFL playoff today". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 2.
  12. ^ "Lions thrilling rally wins playoff, 31-27". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. 20.
  13. ^ 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 Archived October 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine

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