1952 NFL season

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1952 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 28 – December 14, 1952
American Conf. Champions Cleveland Browns
National Conf. Champions Detroit Lions
Championship Game
Champions Detroit Lions

The 1952 NFL season was the 33rd regular season of the National Football League. Prior to the season, New York Yanks owner Ted Collins sold his team back to the NFL. A few days later, a new team was then awarded to an ownership group in Dallas, Texas after it purchased the assets of the Yanks.

However, the new Dallas Texans went 1–11, and was sold back to the league midway through the season. For the team's last five games, the league operated the Texans as a road team, using Hershey, Pennsylvania as a home base. One of their final two "home" games were held at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio the other one played at the opposing team's (Detroit) stadium. After the season ended, the league folded the Texans, the last time an NFL team failed. This left Dallas without a professional football franchise until the births of the Dallas Cowboys and the AFL version of the Dallas Texans in 1960.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship Game.

Major rule changes

  • Offensive players will not be called for illegal motion as long as they do not move forward prior to the snap.
  • The penalty for offensive pass interference is 15 yards from the previous spot, unless the result on a fourth down play is a touchback.
  • A player who commits a palpably (obviously) unfair act is ejected from the game.

Regular season highlights

  • In Week One September 28, the Cleveland Browns hosted a rematch of their 1951 title game loss to the Rams, which had taken place in Los Angeles. That 24–17 loss was avenged with a 37–7 win for the Browns. The NFL's newest team, the Dallas Texans, played their first game, but a crowd of only 17,499 turned out to watch the visiting Giants. The Texans scored first, on a pass from George Taliaferro to Buddy Young, two of the few African-American players in the NFL at that time. The Giants scored the rest of the points in a 24–6 win.
  • Week Three (October 12, the Giants beat the Browns 17–9, and the 49ers shut out the Lions 28–0, as both stayed unbeaten on the road.
  • Week Four (October 19 saw the 49ers stay unbeaten with a 40–18 win over the Bears, while the Chicago Cardinals spoiled the Giants' home opener, 24–23.
  • San Francisco's streak finally ended on November 2 in Week Six when the Bears visited. The 49ers were leading, 17–10 in the 4th quarter, when Frankie Albert made an unnecessary gamble in a 4th and 4 on his own 31-yard line, trying to gain yardage on a fake punt. Chicago took over on downs and tied the game three plays later, and George Blanda's 48-yard field goal gave them a 20–17 win.[1]
  • In Week Seven (November 9), the 49ers lost in New York, 23–14, while Detroit beat Pittsburgh 31–6 and Cleveland beat the Cardinals 28–13. Both conference races were tied, with the Giants and Browns in the American, and the Lions joining the 49ers in the National, all with 5–2–0 records. In Dallas, only 10,000 turned out in a drizzle to watch the Texans fall to 0–7–0 in a 27–6 loss to the Rams.[2] It proved to be the Texans' last Cotton Bowl date, and the last pro football game played in the state of Texas until 1960. After losses of $250,000 and failed attempts to get refinancing, the team's 16 stockholders surrendered the franchise three days later, the league took over its operations, and the remaining games in Dallas were moved.[3]
  • In Week Eight (November 16, the Browns had a 22–0 lead over Pittsburgh and then withstood a four touchdown passing attack by Jim Finks in a 29–28 win. A safety, caused when Finks had been sacked in the end zone earlier, was the margin of victory. With the Giants' 17–3 loss to Green Bay, Cleveland took over first place in the American Conference. Meanwhile, Detroit and San Francisco both won to stay tied in the National.
  • Week Nine November 23, saw a seven-way tie for the NFL's best record, with more than half of the teams at 6–3–0, and only three games left in the season. The 5–3 Rams beat the 6–2 49ers 35–9, and the 5–3 Eagles beat the 6–2 Browns 28–20. The 3–5 Bears upset the visiting 6–2 Lions, 24–23, after George Blanda passed to Ed Sprinkle with 8 seconds to play. In addition, the 5–3 Giants and the 5–3 Packers won their games against Washington (14–10) and Dallas (42–14) respectively.[4]
  • The oddity only lasted a few days. Week Ten began on Thanksgiving Day, as the Lions beat the Packers 48–24. The same day, November 27, the 0–9–0 Texans played the Bears in Akron, Ohio after Dallas and Chicago were unavailable. The Texans blew an 18-point lead, but with 0:34 to play, Frank Tripucka scored and the NFL's orphaned team registered its first, and last, win, 27–23. About 3,000 Ohioans watched the game, compared to 14,800 who packed the stadium earlier that day to watch a high school match.[5] On November 30, the Rams and 49ers, both 6–3–0, met for the second straight week, this time in San Francisco, and the L.A. team won 34–21. The NFL's two other 6–3 teams, the Eagles and the Giants, both lost on the road. The Cards beat Philly 28–22. The 3–6 Steelers, however, handed the Giants their worst defeat ever, beginning with a 91-yard return of the opening kickoff by Lynn Chandnois and ending 63–7. With that, the Browns were alone in the American race, while the Lions and Rams were tied in the National.
  • The Browns, Lions and Rams won again in Week Eleven, as did Philadelphia, but the Giants were eliminated with a 27–17 loss to Washington.
  • In the final games of the regular season (December 14) in Week Twelve, Detroit won 41–6 in the last NFL game for the Dallas Texans, and the Rams beat Pittsburgh 28–14, tying both for the American title at 9–3–0, and forcing a playoff. In the National Conference, the 7–4 Eagles were hoping for the 8–3 Browns to lose, and Cleveland fell in New York, 37–34, despite a fourth quarter comeback attempt. Playing against the last place (2–8) Redskins, the Eagles had a 21–14 lead in the fourth quarter, but Eddie LeBaron crossed the goal line with 0:18 to play, for Washington's only home win in 1952, and handing the Browns the conference title.[6]

Conference races

Week National American
1 Tie (Bears, S.F) 1–0–0 4 teams (Cle, NYG, Phi, Was) 1–0–0
2 San Francisco 49ers 2–0–0 Tie (Cle, NYG) 2–0–0
3 San Francisco 49ers 3–0–0 New York Giants 3–0–0
4 San Francisco 49ers 4–0–0 3 teams (Cards, Cle., NYG) 3–1–0
5 San Francisco 49ers 5–0–0 Cleveland Browns 4–1–0
6 San Francisco 49ers 5–1–0 Cleveland Browns 4–2–0
7 Tie (Lions, 49ers) 5–2–0 Tie (Browns, Giants) 5–2–0
8 Tie (Lions, 49ers) 6–2–0 Cleveland Browns 6–2–0
9 4 teams (Det., GB, LA, SF) 6–3–0 3 teams (Cle., NYG, Phi) 6–3–0
10 Tie (Det., LA) 7–3–0 Cleveland Browns 7–3–0
11 Tie (Det., LA) 8–3–0 Cleveland Browns 8–3–0
12 Tie (Det., LA) 9–3–0 Cleveland Browns 8–4–0

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

American Conference
Cleveland Browns 8 4 0 .667 310 213
New York Giants 7 5 0 .583 234 231
Philadelphia Eagles 7 5 0 .583 252 271
Pittsburgh Steelers 5 7 0 .417 300 273
Chicago Cardinals 4 8 0 .333 172 221
Washington Redskins 4 8 0 .333 240 287
National Conference
Detroit Lions 9 3 0 .750 344 192
Los Angeles Rams 9 3 0 .750 349 234
San Francisco 49ers 7 5 0 .583 285 221
Green Bay Packers 6 6 0 .500 295 312
Chicago Bears 5 7 0 .417 245 326
Dallas Texans 1 11 0 .083 182 427


See: 1952 NFL playoffs

Home team in capitals

National Conference Playoff Game

  • DETROIT 31, Los Angeles 21

NFL Championship Game

  • Detroit 17, CLEVELAND 7

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Otto Graham Cleveland 2816
Rushing Dan Towler Los Angeles 894
Receiving Billy Howton Green Bay 1231


  1. "Bears Upend 49ers on Blanda's Long Boot After Albert's 4th-Quarter Gamble Fails," San Mateo Times, Nov 3, 1952, p18
  2. "Outlook Good for Dead Heat In Pro Grid Loop Divisions," Corpus Christi Times, Nov 10, 1952, p19
  3. "Dallas Texans Go Broke; Team Goes Back to League," The Lowell (Mass.) Sun, Nov 13, 1952, p29
  4. "Seven Teams Tied For Pro Grid Leads," Oakland Tribune, Nov 24, 1952, p25
  5. "Detroit Upends Packers; Dallas Posts First Win," The Athens (O.) Messenger, Nov 28, 1952, p8
  6. "Eagles Deserted By 'Lady Luck'", Charleston Daily Mail, Dec 15, 1952, p16