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Browns Top Steelers, Gain First Place in Eastern Conference of NFL

Oct. 5, 1963 - Frank Ryan passed for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth tonight as the Cleveland Browns gained undisputed possession of first place in the Eastern Conference of the NFL with a 35-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The grueling contest was played before a Brown all-time record home crowd of 84,684 and sent the Steelers crashing to the first defeat of their season. Ryan, who was cold in the first half, hit Gary Collins twice with scoring heaves of 15 and 20 yards. Then, late in the final period, he broke the game open by finding Rich Kreitling in the end zone for another tally. Earlier in the second half, with the Browns trailing, 20-14, Ryan blasted 13 yards to score the touchdown that put the Browns ahead, 21-20. The lone Pittsburgh tally in the second half came when Lou Michaels booted his third field goal of the game after the Browns had staged a heroic goal line stand, their second of the contest. Fullback Jim Brown, the league’s top ground-gainer, churned out 179 yards in 21 carries. It was a close game until Jim Shorter took a Steeler punt and returned it 52 yards to set up Collins’ second touchdown, which moved Cleveland ahead, 28-23. The Steelers’ ground game was held to 33 yards, but quarterback Ed Brown found the aerial range as he led Pittsburgh to a 20-14 halftime bulge. Afterward, Pittsburgh coach Buddy Parker was asked about his club’s inability to cross the goal line. “I never like to alibi about injuries because all times have them,” Buddy said. “However, if John Henry Johnson had been available, I’m sure we would have had two scores. He’s the only back we have who can jump over the defense on the goal line.” The Steeler coach offered high praise for his quarterback and also for the Cleveland signal caller. “Brown’s passing was the equal to any I have seen in my pro career,” he insisted. “We had set up the offense all week against their defense, but Ed called a perfect game. And that Ryan should be a halfback. He’s the best runner in the league. I’m not including the fullbacks, of course, who are a different type.” Despite the setback, Parker looked ahead with optimism. “We’ll win it all if we can get our injured boys well,” Buddy declared. “Bob Schmitz is one of the best linebackers in the NFL, and he hasn’t played the last two games. Of course, we need Johnson. John Reger is going to take some more tests this week, and he might be back to help the linebackers for the Redskin game.”

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