? In 1933 the Notional Football League was divided into Eastern and Western Divisions, and a playoff game between divisional champions was started to determine the league champion. How was the league championship decided before 1933?
This is an article from the Dec. 18, 1961 issue
•Before 1933, the team with the best percentage was the NFL champion. It was not always the team with the most wins, because each team did not play the same number of games. In 1924, for example, Cleveland won the title with a 7-1-1 record (.875) while the 11-2-1 record (.846) of the Frankford Yellow Jackets (Philadelphia) was good only for third place.
? What team has played in the most championship playoff games?
•The N.Y. Giants have represented the Eastern Division 11 times, but have won only three playoff games (1934, 1938 and 1956).
? What team has won the most championship playoff games?
•The Chicago Bears have won five times in nine games (1933, 1940, 1941, 1943 and 1946). The Detroit Lions have the next-best record, with four wins in five games (1935, 1952, 1953 and 1957).
? Has any team ever won three straight playoff games?
•No. The best has been two wins in a row, and the teams, besides the Bears and the Lions, which did it were the Philadelphia Eagles (1948 and 1949), the Cleveland Browns (1954 and 1955) and the Baltimore Colts (1958 and 1959).
? Has any team lost three playoff games in a row?
•Yes. The Cleveland Browns, who won a record six successive Eastern Division titles between 1950 and 1955, lost the 1951, '52 and '53 playoff games.
? How many of the 14 teams currently in the NFL have never appeared in a playoff game?
•Except for the new teams—Dallas, Minnesota and the St. Louis Cardinals—only the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers have failed to win a division title and thus appear in the playoff game. The Cardinals, however, played in the 1947 and 1948 playoff games when the team represented Chicago.
? The most lopsided score in a playoff game was the Chicago Bears' famous 73-0 win over the Washington Redskins in 1940. What other teams have lost badly in the playoff game?
•In 1954 Cleveland beat Detroit 56-10. Three years later the Lions got their revenge with a 59-14 win over the Browns.
? Who completed the most passes in a single playoff game?
•Philadelphia's Tommy Thompson completed 27 of 44 passes against the Chicago Cardinals in 1947. The Eagles lost, however, 28-21.
? Who caught the most passes in a single playoff game?
•Ray Berry caught 12 for a record 178 yards in the Baltimore Colts' 1958 overtime win over the Giants.
? What passer holds the record for most total passes completed in playoff competition? What receiver has caught the most total passes?
•The Cleveland Browns' passing combination of Otto Graham to Dante Lavelli holds both records. Graham threw 86 completed passes (out of a record 159 attempts) in six games, and Lavelli caught 24 in six.
? Who made the longest run from scrimmage in a playoff game? The longest kickoff return? The longest punt return?
•Elmer Angsman, of the Chicago Cardinals, twice ran 70 yards from scrimmage against the Eagles in 1947. Washington's Max Krause returned a kickoff 62 yards against the Bears in 1940. Charlie Trippi, of the Cardinals, returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in the 1947 game.
? What player threw the longest pass in a playoff game?
•Bob Waterfield combined with Glenn Davis for an 82-yard touchdown pass for the Los Angeles Rams in 1950 against the Browns.
? Who holds the record for the most field goals in one playoff game? The longest field goal?
•Four players have kicked three field goals in one game: the Bears' Jack Manders in 1933, the Bears' Bob Snyder in 1941, the Browns' Lou Groza in 1953 and the Giants' Pat Summerall in 1959. Groza kicked a 52-yard field goal against the L.A. Rams in 1951.
? Has anyone ever scored three touchdowns in a playoff game?
•Yes. Otto Graham not only passed for three touchdowns against Detroit in 1954, he also set a record by running for three touchdowns. Graham, who was far better known as a passer, averaged 4.7 yards each time he carried the ball in playoff games (222 yards gained in 47 attempts).
? Has any team ever failed to complete a single forward pass in a playoff game?
•No, but two teams—the 1935 Lions (against the Giants) and the 1948 Eagles (against the Chicago Cardinals)—completed only two passes. Both, strangely enough, won their games.
? What team gained the most yards in one game?
•Not surprisingly, it was the 1940 Bears in that 73-0 game against Washington—with 501 yards. The Bears also set a rushing record of 382 yards in that game. The Redskins, however, hold the passing record of 371 yards, set in 1937 against the Bears.