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1957 Detroit Lions season

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1957 Detroit Lions season
Head coachGeorge Wilson
Home fieldBriggs Stadium
Division place1st NFL Western (playoff)
Playoff finishWon NFL Championship

The 1957 Detroit Lions season was the franchise's 28th season in the National Football League (NFL) and their 24th as the Detroit Lions. The Lions won their fourth and most recent NFL championship.[1][2][3][4]

In the penultimate regular season game with the Cleveland Browns on December 8, hall of fame quarterback Bobby Layne was lost for the season with a broken right ankle. With backup Tobin Rote in at quarterback in the second quarter,[5] the Lions won that game and overcame a ten-point deficit at halftime the following week to defeat the Chicago Bears 21–13, whom they had lost to three weeks earlier at home.[6] They ended the regular season with three consecutive wins and an 8–4 record. All four losses were within the Western Conference, splitting the two games with all but the Green Bay Packers, whom they swept.

Detroit tied with the San Francisco 49ers (8–4) for the conference title, which required a tiebreaker playoff game. Played at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on December 22, the 49ers entered the game as three point favorites.[7] Down by twenty points in the third quarter, Detroit rallied with a 24–0 run to win 31–27.[8]

The Lions were home underdogs for next week the NFL championship game on against Cleveland.[9] Played on December 29 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, the Lions led 17–0 after the first quarter and won in a rout, 59–14.[1][2][3][4] Through the 2019 season, the Lions have yet to return to the NFL title game (including the Super Bowl), an absence of more than sixty years. It is the fourth-longest drought in all four major sports, and the second-longest in the NFL, behind the Arizona Cardinals (1947, when the team was still based in Chicago), although the Cardinals, unlike the Lions, have subsequently appeared in the Super Bowl.


Regular season

Week Date Opponent Result Record Attendance
1 September 29 at Baltimore Colts L 14–34 0–1
2 October 6 at Green Bay Packers W 24–14 1–1
3 October 13 Los Angeles Rams W 10–7 2–1
4 October 20 Baltimore Colts W 31–27 3–1
5 October 27 at Los Angeles Rams L 17–35 3–2
6 November 3 at San Francisco 49ers L 31–35 3–3
7 November 10 at Philadelphia Eagles W 27–16 4–3
8 November 17 San Francisco 49ers W 31–10 5–3
9 November 24 Chicago Bears L 7–27 5–4
10 November 28 Green Bay Packers W 18–6 6–4
11 December 8 Cleveland Browns W 20–7 7–4
12 December 15 at Chicago Bears W 21–13 8–4


Round Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance
Conference December 22 at San Francisco 49ers W, 31–27 Kezar Stadium
Championship December 29 Cleveland Browns W, 59–14 Briggs Stadium


NFL Western Conference
Detroit Lions 8 4 0 .667 6–4 251 231 W3
San Francisco 49ers 8 4 0 .667 7–3 260 264 W3
Baltimore Colts 7 5 0 .583 6–4 303 235 L2
Los Angeles Rams 6 6 0 .500 5–5 307 278 W2
Chicago Bears 5 7 0 .417 4–6 203 211 L1
Green Bay Packers 3 9 0 .250 2–8 218 311 L3

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.


Detroit Lions 1957 roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists

Rookies in italics

Season summary

Between the 1956 and 1957 seasons, the Lions hired George Wilson as their new head coach.


Week 1: at Baltimore

1 234Total
Detroit 7 007 14
Baltimore 7 17100 34

On September 29, 1957, the Lions opened their 1956 with a 34-14 loss to the Baltimore Colts in Baltimore. The Colts were led by Johnny Unitas who threw four touchdown passes and the Baltimore defense that held the Lions to 23 rushing yards and intercepted three of Bobby Layne's passes. Detroit's touchdowns were scored by Howard Cassady (a short run for his first NFL touchdown) and Jerry Reichow on a 32-yard pass from backup quarterback Tobin Rote.[11]

Week 2: at Green Bay Packers

1 2 34Total
Lions 14 3 0724
Packers 0 0 01414

at City Stadium, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Week 3: Los Angeles Rams

1 234Total
Rams 0 700 7
• Lions 0 1000 10


Week 4: Baltimore Colts

1 234Total
Colts 7 1460 27
• Lions 0 3721 31


Playoffs vs. San Francisco

1 234Total
Detroit 0 71410 31
San Francisco 14 1030 27
  • Date: December 22
  • Location: Kezar Stadium, San Francisco
  • Game attendance: 60,118

On December 22, the Lions defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31–27, in a Western Conference playoff game. The two teams had finished the regular season tied in the standings at 8–4, which called for a tiebreaker game.

The 49ers took a 24-7 lead at halftime, as Y. A. Tittle threw three touchdown passes in the first half. A field goal early in the third quarter extended the lead to 27–7, then the Lions responded with 24 unanswered points. Detroit's touchdowns were scored by Steve Junker on a four-yard pass from Tobin Rote, two runs by Tom Tracy (1-yard and 58-yard runs), and Gene Gedman on a two-yard run.[14]

NFL Championship Game

1 234Total
Cleveland 0 770 14
Detroit 17 141414 59

On December 29, the Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns 59–14 in the NFL championship game. The Browns had been favored to win by three points. Tobin Rote, filling in at quarterback after Bobby Layne broke his ankle on December 8,[5] was credited with "a brilliant performance" as he completed 12 of 19 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for a touchdown, leading the Lions to "their greatest point total in history on offense."[15] The Lions capitalized on five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, including a 19-yard interception return for touchdown by Terry Barr, and held Cleveland star rookie Jim Brown to 69 rushing yards on 20 carries.[15][16]

The longest pay of the game was a 78-yard touchdown pass from Rote to Jim Doran. Rookie Steve Junker was the Lions' leading scorer with 12 points on touchdown receptions covering 26 and 23 yards. Jim Martin followed with 11 points on eight extra point conversions and a 31-yard field goal.[16] The victory gave the Lions their third NFL championship in six years. It was also referred to as "the perfect revenge" for the Browns' 56-10 defeat of the Lions in the 1954 NFL Championship Game.[15]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Chuck (December 30, 1957). "Rote's passes, play calling smash Cleveland, 59 to 14". Milwaukee Journal. p. 7, part 2.
  2. ^ a b Sell, Jack (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59 to 14, to win title". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 18.
  3. ^ a b Jones, Eddie T. (December 30, 1957). "Browns show off collapsing defense". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). p. 11.
  4. ^ a b Maule, Tex (January 6, 1958). "All hail the lusty Lions". Sports Illustrated. p. 8.
  5. ^ a b "Lions lose Layne but win, 20-7". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 9, 1957. p. 26.
  6. ^ "Lions uphill fight whips Bears, 21-13". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 16, 1957. p. 31.
  7. ^ "49ers 3-point choice today". Milwaukee Sentinel. INS. December 22, 1957. p. 1C.
  8. ^ "Lions thrilling rally wins playoff, 31-27". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. 20.
  9. ^ Lea, Bud (December 29, 1957). "Lions face Browns for pro title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1C.
  10. ^ Johnson, Chuck (November 29, 1957). "Lion mudders beat Green Bay in rain". Milwaukee Journal. p. 13, part 2.
  11. ^ Bob Latshaw (September 29, 1957). "Colts Kick Lions in the Teeth, 34-14". Detroit Free Press. pp. 37, 41 – via open access
  12. ^ Retrieved 2015-Jan-05.
  13. ^ Retrieved 2015-Jan-05.
  14. ^ Lyall Smith (December 23, 1957). "The Lions' 1957 Fight Song: 'Oh, We Won Because We Won --'". Detroit Free Press. p. 33 – via open access
  15. ^ a b c Bob Latshaw (December 30, 1957). "Lions Win, 59-14! 55,263 See Browns Humbled; It's Third Title in Six Years". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1–2.
  16. ^ a b "Cleveland Browns 14 at Detroit Lions 59". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
This page was last edited on 18 January 2020, at 22:27
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