disappointing crowd of 34,981 saw Detroit defeat the Cleveland
Browns, 17-16, in the first Playoff Bowl. It was the Lions' eighth
win in nine games against the Browns. The game was decided on a
missed Cleveland PAT in the game's final minutes. Detroit's
offense was aided by interceptions from Gary Lowe (3) and Alex
Karras (1), as well as a fine day from Nick Pietrosante, who ran
for 89 yards on 17 carries.
Milt Plum hit Rich Kreitling with a 9 yard touchdown pass and the
Lions trailed 7-0 at the half. But, Detroit went ahead on a
touchdown run by Pietrosante and a field goal by Jim Martin. The
Browns were able to tie it at 10-10 on Sam Baker's 27 yard field
goal before Ken Webb scored Cleveland's decisive touchdown on a
dive in the final quarter.
game's waning moments, Plum hit Bobby Mitchell on an 89 yard
touchdown strike and the Browns were poised to tie the game. But,
Dick “Night Train” Lane burst through the Cleveland
defense to block Baker's extra point attempt and preserve a 17-16
Lions victory in the first ever Playoff Bowl. The win gave the
Lions 3rd place in the NFL, the first time such an
honor had been awarded. As it turned out, Detroit might have
scored again. Gary Lowe's interception (his third interception of
the game) gave Detroit possession at the Cleveland 12, where the
Lions ran out the clock in the final minutes.
Detroit Lions finished second, a game behind the Green Bay Packers
in the NFL West with a 7-5 record. Jim Ninowski threw for 1599
yards. For the '60 season, Nick Pietrosante had established a new
all-time Lions rushing record, rolling for 872 yard on 161
carries, and was voted MVP by his teammates. The Cleveland Browns
finished second in the East at 8-3-1. They were led by Jim
Brown’s league leading 1257 yards rushing (his third
straight 1000+ season) and Milt Plum’s 2297 yards passing.
By TOMMY DEVINE
Sports Editor of the Miami News
A fabulous football dynasty which rose to power on the magic of A
Toe found the once-favored weapon its undoing yesterday in the first
annual Pro Playoff Bowl Game.
The Detroit Lions put on a dazzling second-half offensive show to
come from behind and defeat the Cleveland Browns, 17-16, before
34,981 fans yesterday at the Orange Bowl.
The Lions' thin margin of victory was the result of a missed
conversion attempt by Sam Baker of the Browns in the final five
minutes of play.
Points-after-touchdown are regarded as almost automatic in
professional football. This is particularly true with the Browns.
From the moment of its organization in the old All-America
Conference and then through glory years in the National League, the
Browns had as one of their great stars football's greatest kickers
in burly Lou Groza.
In 10 seasons in the NFL, Groza's unerring toe accounted for 343
point-after-touchdown and kicked 131 field goals.
The Toe was synonymous with success at Cleveland. Groza was on the
Orange Bowl sidelines yesterday as the Browns 'died' by the method
which so often had provided them football life.
Baker, acquired from the Washington Redskins as Groza's replacement,
can't be blamed entirely for the failure, however. The pass from
center John Morrow was low and the holder, Bobby Franklin, had
difficulty in spotting the ball.
By the time he finally placed the ball, Dick Lane, the Lions'
defensive halfback, broke in from the left side and deflected the
Detroit's victory over Cleveland enabled the Lions' to continue
their mastery over the Browns in regular season and playoff
The Lions now have won eight times as against a lone defeat since
While pro football victories generally hinge on the passing
efficiency of the rival quarterbacks, the Lions and the Browns
demonstrated conclusively a powerful running attack still is mighty
The Playoff Bowl game matched two of football's finest power runners
in Jimmy Brown of Cleveland and Nick Pietrosante of Detroit.
Brown, the only player in NFL history ever to win the rushing title
four consecutive years, had the statistical edge over his youthful
rival, but Pietrosante's big plays were so vital in the Lions'
victory that he was voted the game's "Outstanding Player."
Brown, a bruising and tireless-type runner, carried the ball on 22
out of the 32 running plays Cleveland had. He picked up 132 yards.
Pietrosante gained 86 yards in 17 carries. In every tough,
short-yardage situation the Lions faced to keep a drive rolling, the
second-year fullback from Notre Dame came through.
The Lions, who finished the regular season with a rush by winning
seven of their last nine to edge the defending champion Baltimore
Colts and the San Francisco 49ers from the runner-up spot, showed
their fine balance between offense and defense.
In the first half, quarterback Earl Morrall, who had directed
Detroit in victories in the last three games of the schedule,
couldn't get the Lions' offense rolling.
Still, the Lions' defense, led by Joe Schmidt, was solid enough to
keep Detroit within close range of the Browns. They
trailed by a touchdown at the half, 7-0.
Cleveland opened the scoring midway through the second period.
After a pass interception, the Browns marched 81 yards in 12 plays.
The touchdown came on a nine-yard pass from Milt Plum to end Rich
The drive was a combination of Brown's running and Plum's passing.
Jimmy carried five times for 45 yards during the march and Plum
passed for another 32 yards.
Immediately after making the touchdown catch, Kreitling was tackled
hard by Bruce Maher of the Lions. He suffered a dislocated shoulder
and was forced to leave the game.
In the opening half, Detroit never made a serious scoring threat.
The Lions were inside the Cleveland 40 yard line only once over that
stretch. That lone threat died at the Browns' 38 on a pass
The second half was a far different story, however. The Lions
dominated the offense.
Detroit got the tying touchdown immediately alter the third period
opened. The Lions took the kickoff to start the third period and
moved 76 yards in 11 plays for the touchdown. The brilliant
Pietrosante personally accounted for 43 yards in the drive in five
carries. He scored the touchdown from the five-yard line. Jim Martin
kicked the extra point to lie the score.
The tight Detroit defense provided the opportunity for the Lions'
Gary Lowe intercepted a Plum pass on the Lions' 45 and ran it back
43 yards to the Cleveland 12. In three plays, the Lions lost five
yards. Martin came in to kick a field goal and send Detroit into a
Cleveland bounced right back after the kickoff to drive from its own
36 to the Browns 20. When the attack stalled. Baker kicked a field
goal to tie the score at 10-10.
Baker's kick came on the opening play of the fourth quarter and set
the stage for the dramatic stretch battle.
With only five minutes of play remaining, the Lions drove 58 yards
in eight plays, with Ken Webb plunging over from the one. Again
Martin converted and Detroit led 17-19.
Time now became a vital factor . . . only in pro football they are
the masters of the seconds.
Bobby Mitchell and the Browns quickly demonstrated how suddenly the
complexion of a game can be altered.
After the kickoff, the Browns were set back to their own 11-yard
line by a clipping penalty. It was one of two penalties assessed in
On the first play from scrimmage. Mitchell took a short pass over
center from Plum. He veered to his left, picked up a wave of
blockers and then sprinted down the sidelines for 89 yards and the
Now Baker came in for the extra point try.
It was a 1000-to-1 bet he would make it. But, then came the the pass
from center and the miss.
The Browns had possession of the ball for only one more play after
that. It resulted in the alert Detroit defense intercepting another
The Toe . . Lou Groza . . . walked glumly to the Cleveland locker
room. The weapon be helped made famous had come back to haunt the
Browns on a day when he couldn't offer help.