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1953 NFL season


1953 NFL season

The 1953 NFL season was the 34th regular season of the National Football League. The names of the American and National conferences were changed to the Eastern and Western conferences.

Meanwhile, a Colts after the previous team that folded after the 1950 NFL season. The 12 teams that made up the NFL this season would continue to do so for the rest of the 1950s, these teams becoming known as "old-line" teams as they predated the 1960 launch of the American Football League.

The season ended when the Detroit Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship Game for the second year in a row.


  • Major rule changes 1
  • Conference races 2
  • Final standings 3
  • NFL Championship Game 4
  • League leaders 5
  • References 6

Major rule changes

  • The definition of illegal motion is clarified. A player must be moving directly forward at the snap to be considered illegally in motion.

Conference races

For 1953, the former American and National Conferences were renamed the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively. The Western race saw the Rams beat the Lions twice, in Detroit (October 18) and in L.A. (November 1), and at the midway point in Week Six, the Rams were a full game ahead in the race. In Week Seven (November 8), the 49ers beat the Rams 31–27, and the Lions won their game, to put all three teams at 5–2–0. In Week Eight, the Lions beat Green Bay 14–7, while the Rams were tied 24–24 by the Cards, and the 49ers lost 23–21 to the Browns. As both teams won their remaining games, San Francisco was always a game behind Detroit.

In the Eastern, the Cleveland Browns won their first eleven games and led wire-to-wire, clinching a playoff spot by week 10. The Browns' shot at a 12–0–0 season was spoiled by a 42–27 loss on the last day, December 13, and spoiled even more by the championship game against the Lions.

Week Western Eastern
1 4 teams (Bal., Det, LA, SF) 1–0–0 Tie (Cle, Was) 1–0–0
2 Tie (Det, SF) 2–0–0 Cleveland Browns 2–0–0
3 Detroit Lions 3–0–0 Cleveland Browns 3–0–0
4 3 teams (Det, LA, SF) 3–1–0 Cleveland Browns 4–0–0
5 Tie (Det, LA) 4–1–0 Cleveland Browns 5–0–0
6 Los Angeles Rams 5–1–0 Cleveland Browns 6–0–0
7 3 teams (Det, LA, SF) 5–2–0 Cleveland Browns 7–0–0
8 Detroit Lions 6–2–0 Cleveland Browns 8–0–0
9 Detroit Lions 7–2–0 Cleveland Browns 9–0–0
10 Detroit Lions 8–2–0 Cleveland Browns 10–0–0
11 Detroit Lions 9–2–0 Cleveland Browns 11–0–0
12 Detroit Lions 10–2–0 Cleveland Browns 11–1–0

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Note: The NFL did not officially count tie games in the standings until 1972

Eastern Conference
Cleveland Browns 11 1 0 .917 348 162
Philadelphia Eagles 7 4 1 .636 352 215
Washington Redskins 6 5 1 .545 208 215
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 6 0 .500 211 263
New York Giants 3 9 0 .250 179 277
Chicago Cardinals 1 10 1 .091 190 337
Western Conference
Detroit Lions 10 2 0 .833 271 205
San Francisco 49ers 9 3 0 .750 372 237
Los Angeles Rams 8 3 1 .727 366 236
Chicago Bears 3 8 1 .273 218 262
Baltimore Colts 3 9 0 .250 182 350
Green Bay Packers 2 9 1 .182 200 338

NFL Championship Game

Detroit 17, Cleveland 16 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan, December 27, 1953

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Otto Graham Cleveland 2722
Rushing Joe Perry San Francisco 1018
Receiving Pete Pihos Philadelphia 1049


  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1951–1960 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)

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