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Browns' top plays: Groza's kick

7/3/2014
AP Photo

This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Cleveland Browns history. In the next two days, we’ll feature Gary Collins' touchdown reception from Frank Ryan in the 1964 championship game win against Baltimore and "The Fumble"(enough said). Please vote for your choice as the Browns’ most memorable play.

Score: Cleveland 30, Los Angeles 28

Date: Dec. 24, 1950 Site: Cleveland Municipal Stadium

It might surprise some, but Browns history goes back earlier than the Bernie Kosar days. Those who remember Kosar probably also remember the Kardiac Kids. But the team’s true history, the tradition that became the Browns, was established by the greatest NFL coach in the '50s -- when Paul Brown and Otto Graham controlled the league. While there have certainly been many negative plays in team history that were more than memorable, there have also been some positive ones.

In 1950, the Browns were the object of smirks and derision when they entered the National Football League. Paul Brown’s teams had done well in the All-America Football Conference, but it was, well, the AAFC, not the NFL. Never mind that Brown had perhaps his finest team in 1950 with Hall of Famers all over the field -- including Graham, Marion Motley, Dante Lavelli and Lou "The Toe" Groza. The Browns were not supposed to just walk in and own the league.

But they did just that, going 10-2 and reaching the title game against the Los Angeles Rams, who coincidentally started as the Cleveland Rams before moving West in 1945 (the AAFC started play in '46). Playing in hallowed old Municipal Stadium (moment of silence, please), the Browns were down eight heading into the fourth quarter, but Graham threw a touchdown pass and Groza made the extra point to cut the deficit to one. Graham moved the ball inside the Rams’ 30 but fumbled with minutes left -- a turnover that seemed to doom the Browns.

Graham did not give up. The Browns got the ball back and moved to the 9, where Groza -- perhaps the greatest straight-on kicker in NFL history -- started a Cleveland celebration by making the 16-yard kick with less than 28 seconds left. Fans stormed the field and carried the goalposts out of the stadium. Even Brown was emotional, with tears in his eyes as he discussed the win.

In 1950, at least there was justice -- the Browns won the NFL title in their first year in the league by beating the team that had abandoned Cleveland five years before.

And Groza was the guy who provided the winning points.