The 1964 NFL Championship Game — Colts and Browns


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

On Dec. 27, 1964 the Cleveland Browns (10-3-1) coached by Blanton Collier, faced the Baltimore Colts (12-2) coached by Don Shula in Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland in the NFL Championship Game which featured two of the greatest and most popular players of that day in Jim Brown and Johnny Unitas.

Collier, the former coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, had replaced Paul Brown in 1963 after owner Art Modell fired him. In another Brown connection, Don Shula was a former Browns’ player under Paul Brown in the 1950’s.

The Colts were led by quarterback Johnny Unitas (2824 YDS, 19 TDS), running backs Lenny Moore (584 YDS, 16 TDS), Tony Lorick (513 YDS, 4 TDS) and Jerry Hill (384 YDS, 5 TDS), and receivers Jimmy Orr (867 YDS, 6 TDS), Raymond Berry (663 YDS, 6 TDS), Lenny Moore (472 YDS, 3 TDS) and John Mackey (406 YDS, 2 TDS).

Their place kicker was Lou Michaels who made 17 of 35 field goal attempts. They were led on defense by Gino Marchetti, who recovered two fumbles and had 11.5 sacks, Billy Ray Smith with three fumble recoveries and 9.5 sacks, Fred Miller with one fumble recovery and 10 sacks, Bobby Boyd with nine interceptions and Billy Logan with six.

The Browns were led on offense by quarterback Frank Ryan (2404 YDS, 24 TDS), running backs Jim Brown (1446 YDS, 7 TDS) and Ernie Green (491 YDS, 6 TDS), and receivers Paul Warfield (920 YDS, 9 TDS), Gary Collins (544 YDs, 8 TDS), Jim Brown (340 YDS, 2 TDS), Johnny Brewer (338 YDS, 3 TDS) and Ernie Green (283 YDS, 4 TDS).

The place kicker was 40-year old Lou Groza who made 22 of 33 field goal attempts.

They were led on defense by Paul Wiggin with 8.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries, Bill Glass with one fumble recovery and 8.5 sacks and Walter Beach, Larry Benz and Bernie Parrish who each had four interceptions.

They also had 22-year old Leroy Kelly as a kick and punt returner who returned one punt 68 yards for a touchdown, and later in his career would be a star running back for the Browns.

Municipal Stadium was on the lake and it was not unusual for wind and snow to blow in off the lake during a game. In this game, that did happen as the first half was scoreless.

In the second half, the wind favored the Browns and Dr. Frank Ryan (he had a mathematics PhD from Rice) completed touchdown passes of 18, 42 and 51 yards to Gary Collins, Jim Brown rushed for 131 yards and Lou Groza kicked field goals of 10 and 43 yards as the Browns won their last football championship 27-0.

The Browns were back the next year in the NFL Championship Game while Baltimore was back in 1969 against the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.

Statistics for this article are from and

No posts to display