Cowboys Once Had a Great Rivalry with the Cleveland Browns


The Cowboys faced the Browns in Cleveland in 1965.

The Cowboys will meet the Cleveland Browns for just the 11th time since 1970. During my own lifetime, this hasn’t been any sort of rivalry at all.

During Roger Staubach‘s last season in 1979, the Cowboys visited Cleveland on Monday Night Football, but the Browns thumped Dallas in a 26-7 Dallas loss.

Fifteen years later, the Browns visited Dallas in December and stunned the Cowboys thanks to three field goals by Matt Stover.

The other eight games were hardly memorable—for me, at least.

During the 1960s, though, the Browns were actually one of the Cowboys’ chief rivals. Between 1960 and 1966, the teams faced 13 times. Dallas only won two of those games.

The first win came in 1962 when the Cowboys piled up 217 rushing yards and held Jim Brown to just 29 yards in a 45-21 Dallas victory.

The next win did not come until 1966. The teams met twice that year, and Cleveland won the first contest, handing Dallas their first loss of the season. About a month later, though, the Cowboys topped the visiting Browns in a 26-14 win.

Dallas had a four-game winning streak over Cleveland between 1966 and 1968, including the Cowboys’ first-ever playoff win in 1967.

The Browns had the last laugh, though. Dallas had to visit Cleveland in the playoffs in both 1968 and 1969. The Browns won both games in dominating fashion. In both seasons, though, Cleveland lost in the NFL Championship Game.

The Cowboys went back to Cleveland in 1970 to face the Browns one more time after the NFL-AFL merger. The Cowboys needed a win to take the NFC East title and came away with a 6-2 win.

After that, though, the series all but died.

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  • AustonianAggie

    Pretty fascinating chapter in Cowboys and NFL history. A time when the Browns were apart of the NFL after leaving the AFL. I’ll always remember that Browns squad for thumping the Champion Eagles when the Browns left the AFL for the more stable NFL.

  • John Reeder

    Dallas did not visit Cleveland twice during the 1968 and 1969 playoffs. Playoffs used to alternate then. Dallas, as the Capital Division champion, hosted Cleveland in the 1967 and 1969 Eastern Conference Championship Games. Cleveland, as the Century Division champions, hosted the 1968 Eastern Conference Championship game.

    The teams played once in 1960 because Dallas was an expansion team and played all league teams once. From 1961 to 1966 they played twice a year, both being members of the Eastern Conference. In 1967 the East was split into the Capital and Century Divisions, each team playing divisional foes twice and non-divisional conference foes once; hence Dallas and Cleveland played once a year in the 1967, 1968, and 1969 regular seasons (they played twice overall in those years since they met in the Eastern Conference championship game each season). Cleveland moved to the AFC in 1970, and that ended the teams’ frequent meetings.

  • Slight nit: the Browns were one of three AAFC teams (the others being San Francisco and Baltimore) that joined the NFL in 1950. Although the Browns moved to the AFC in 1970 (along with Pittsburgh and Baltimore), they were never in the AFL.