1955 NFL Championship Game
The 1955 National Football League Championship Game was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum between the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Browns and the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Rams. The 23rd NFL title game was played on Monday, December 26, 1955 before 87,695, the largest crowd to see an NFL title game to that time. This was the first NFL championship game televised by NBC and the first NFL championship game played on a Monday.
Browns veteran Lou Groza kicked off; Rams rookie halfback Ron Waller returned the kick, and Groza himself made the tackle. A subsequent Rams drive was stopped at the Cleveland 12 when Kenny Konz intercepted a Norm Van Brocklin pass. Browns quarterback Otto Graham, who had announced his retirement at the end of the season, drove Cleveland to the L.A. 26 where Groza's FG gave the Browns a 3–0 first quarter lead. The Browns scored again when DB Don Paul intercepted Van Brocklin's pass on the Browns 35 and raced 65 yards for a touchdown, making the score 10–0. The Rams answered back when Van Brocklin connected with halfback Volney "Skeet" Quinlan for a 67-yard touchdown, pulling the Rams to within 3 points, 10–7, and giving the large crowd hopes of an upset. But late in the second period, Van Brocklin threw his third interception of the half; defensive back Tom James, who had been beaten on the Rams' Tom Fears' title-winning touchdown on the same field four years earlier, grabbed the errant pass and took the ball back to midfield with time running out. The next play turned a close game into a rout; Otto Graham found Dante Lavelli with a 50-yard TD pass along the sideline and the Rams, who moments earlier were driving to take the lead, went to the locker room down 17–7.
Graham earned his place as the star of the game. After moving the Browns from the L.A. 46, Graham kept the ball and ran around right end from the 19 and scored to put the Browns ahead 24–7. On Los Angeles's next possession, Sam Palumbo intercepted Van Brocklin at the Ram 36. Graham drove the Browns to the 4, then scored himself on a sneak. Groza's conversion increased Cleveland's lead to 31–7 with two minutes left in the third quarter. In the final period, Graham tossed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Ray Renfro and Groza's kick gave the Browns a 38–7 lead. Late in the game, Waller ran four yards for a touchdown and Les Richter's conversion finished the scoring. In the final minutes coach Brown sent in reserve quarterback George Ratterman and allowed Graham to leave the field to an ovation from the Los Angeles crowd. Cleveland, winning three titles in the first half of the decade and representing the Eastern Conference in the championship game every year since its admission to the NFL, celebrated Graham's farewell, while the Rams' Van Brocklin, who threw six interceptions, would often be quoted that the game was the worst of his Hall of Fame career.
- CLE – FG, Groza 26 3–0 CLE
- CLE – Paul 65 interception (Groza kick) 10–0 CLE
- LA – Quinlan 67 pass from Van brocklin (Richter kick) 10–7 CLE
- CLE – Lavelli 50 pass from Graham (Groza kick) 17–7 CLE
- CLE – Graham 15 run (Groza kick) 24–7 CLE
- CLE – Graham 1 run (Groza kick) 31–7 CLE
- CLE – Renfro 35 pass from Graham (Groza kick) 38–7 CLE
- LA – Waller 4 run (Richter kick) 38–14 CLE
Heaton, Chuck (December 26, 1955). "87,695 See Browns Keep Title". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved December 12, 2007.