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Lions Knock Browns Out of Contention

Dec. 9, 1963 - The Detroit Lions knocked Cleveland out of contention for the NFL’s Eastern Conference title yesterday by routing the favored Browns, 38-10, before 51,283 snow-pelted spectators at Tiger Stadium. The end came for the Browns in a decisive third period that saw the Lions, already in front by 14-10, score 2 touchdowns and a field goal. It was no contest after this outburst. The fact is it was not much of a contest at any stage. Cleveland, which had gone into action tied with the Giants for first place in the East, turned up flat for this key game and was thoroughly outplayed in all departments. Detroit’s formidable rush line, superbly backed by Joe Schmidt, contained Jimmy Brown in the early going. Later, trailing by so large a margin, the Browns made little use of their great fullback. Big Jim, who needed 83 yards to bring his season’s rushing yardage to a mile, wound up with a modest 61 yards in 13 attempts. “They said they would hold him under 100 yards,” said Lion coach George Wilson of his defense, “and they did. All week we stressed pursuit. They knew that Brown could hit for a hole and then veer off. They were warned of that. He had to be contained” Aside from its stout defenders, the chief hero for Detroit was Earl Morrall. In one of the peak performances of a checkered 8-year pro career, Morrall completed 13 of 25 passes for 271 yards. He thereby set a Detroit season record of 2,499 yards by passing, topping Bobby Layne’s 1951 mark of 2,403 yards. “We got behind and had to play catch-up,” said Cleveland coach Blanton Collier in the Browns’ quiet dressing room. “When you have to do that, you just don’t let a fullback do much carrying. We just got beat by a good football team. We didn’t seem to be able to stop them. We couldn’t put ourselves together for a drive. But I’m not trying to detract from what the Lions did. This is the first time this Detroit team has been together this season. The Lion team we saw today is as good as any I’ve seen in the league.” Coach Wilson didn’t dispute that he would have liked to have this same Lion team all season. But he highlighted two big plays. “Dick LeBeau ran down Ernie Green short of a touchdown on that 73-yard run in the first half. That was our big saver. Instead of seven points, they settle for three. Then we got a lift on that great play by Gail Cogdill where he caught the pass, got away from two men, and scored the touchdown. That made it 21-10 early in the second half, and it meant they had to score twice to beat us.”

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