Now that we know the Detroit Lions aren’t going to be the first 0-17 team in NFL history, it’s time to talk about their matchup with the only other team to go 0-16. What’s interesting is that the Lions may be going 0-16 again this season and the last team to go 0-16 could contribute to the first team to go 0-16 going 0-16 again. Did I mention 0-16?
Alright, all fun and game aside. We have a lot to discuss here. There’s a boat load of history. Let’s jump right into it.
The first time
The first meeting between the two teams that used to be the class of the NFL was on November 2, 1952. The Lions welcomed the Browns to Tiger Stadium and treated them to a 17-6 beating. Normally we would talk about the top song or movie at this time, but we're doing things differently again.
Fifty-six days later the Lions played the Browns again. This time for the NFL Championship. The Browns would put up a higher point total in this game with seven points, but it wouldn’t be enough. The Lions cruised to a 17-7 win for their second league championship in franchise history. Then they went out and danced to the hit song that was sweeping the nation.
Good god, what a jam!
The Lions and Browns used to be the face of the NFL. The Browns were in the championship game seven times in the 1950s. They faced the Lions in four of those games. The Lions beat them in three of them, including Detroit’s final championship win in 1957.
The Lions have played the Browns 24 times in all. The Lions have won 19 of those games. The Browns are one of just six teams in the NFL that the Lions hold an all-time winning record over. In case you were wondering, the other five are The Atlanta Falcons, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New York Giants, the Arizona Cardinals and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here’s one you don’t hear often, the Browns haven't beaten the Lions in 20 years. The last time the Browns beat the Lions was the first week the NFL returned after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
That was also the last time the Lions lost in Cleveland. The Lions are 7-4 all time in Cleveland.
It’s very easily that post 9/11 game. There were two special things about that game. The first one was positive. It was the first week on football games after the attacks and it was the first semblance of getting ourselves back into normal life.
The second special thing is that Lions quarterback Ty Detmer threw the second most interceptions in a single game in NFL history. He threw an incredible seven picks. Only Jim Hardy, who threw eight in 1950, has thrown more. Somehow the Lions only lost 24-14. Enjoy reliving it.
I’m only 36. The Lions have only played the Browns nine times in my life and I was barely a year old for one of those times. So I think the best memory has to be the 2013 win in Cleveland.
The Lions went to Cleveland and stomped the Browns in a 31-17. Stafford threw four touchdowns. Joe Fauria caught three of them. Man, we really thought that guy was going to be the best.
Perhaps the best part was Brandon Weeden’s legendary interception that he’s probably hoping Aaron Glenn has space in that hole for.
Let’s dive into a really old game. Let’s look at the Lions 1952 championship game against the Browns. The game was held in Cleveland at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Browns played at this stadium until 1995 when they moved the team to Baltimore and became the Ravens.
You want to know how different football was in 1952? Bobby Layne went 7-9 for 68 yards in a championship game and his team won. He did run for 47 yards and a touchdown, though. Doak Walker had a big game for the Lions. He ran for 97 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
For the Browns, Otto Graham threw 35 passes for 191 yards and an interception. Chick Jagade... wait, hold on. Chick Jagade? Is that not the most 1952 name you’ve ever seen in your life? Why is there nobody named Chick anymore? I digress. Chick ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
The Browns actually controlled most of the game, earning 22 first downs to the Lions’ 10. Everything in the stat sheet says the Browns should have won this game. The two turnovers is probably why they didn’t.
Here’s something cool for the people who have time: someone on YouTube uploaded this entire game. It looks weird and slow, but here’s the Lions 1952 championship win.