The 1968 NFL Championship Game — Browns and Colts


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

On Dec. 29, 1968 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium the Cleveland Browns (11-4) coached by Blanton Collier with assistant Nick Skorich met the Baltimore Colts (14-1) coached by Don Shula who had as his assistants Bill Arnsparger, Don McCafferty and Chuck Noll.

The Browns were led on offense by quarterback Bill Nelsen (2366 yds, 19 tds) and running backs Leroy Kelley ((1239, 16 tds) and Charlie Harroway (334 yds), and receivers Paul Warfield (1067 yds, 12 tds), Milt Morin (792 yds, 5 tds) and Leroy Kelley ( 297 yds, 4 tds).

Their place kicker was Don Cockroft who made 18 of 24 field goal attempts, and they were led on defense by Walter Johnson and Ron Snidow with 5.5 sacks each, and Ben Davis with 8 interceptions and Ernie Kellerman and Mike Howell with 6 each.

The Colts were led by Earl Morrall (2909 yds, 26 tds) and running backs former Ohio State star Tom Matte (662 yds, 9 tds), Terry Cole (418 yds, 3 tds) and Jerry Hill (360 tds, 1 tds), and receivers Jimmy Orr (743 yds, 6 tds), Willie Richardson (698 yds, 8 tds) and John Mackey (644 yds, 5 tds).

Even though the game was played in Municipal Stadium, it was not Cleveland’s day. The first quarter was scoreless. But in the second quarter, the Colts took a 17-0 lead on a Lou Michaels field goal and two rushing touchdowns by Tom Matte, one from one yard out and the other from 12 yards out, and the score at halftime was 17-0 in favor of Baltimore.

In the third quarter, Matte scored another rushing touchdown this time from 2 yards out as Baltimore increased their lead to 24-0. The fourth quarter was no better for the Browns as Lou Michaels kicked a 10-yard field goal and Tommy Brown scored on a four-yard rushing touchdown while the Browns could not muster a scoring drive. The final score was 34-0 Colts.

The snow covered field had turned to mud and that limited the running ability of Leroy Kelley, who was the Browns leading rusher.

The Colts went on to the Super Bowl against the New York Jets. The Browns were back the following year in the NFL title game while the Colts were in Super Bowl V two years later.

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