1964 NFL season

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1964 National Football League season
Regular season
East Champions Cleveland Browns
West Champions Baltimore Colts
Championship Game
Champions Cleveland Browns

The 1964 NFL season was the 45th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season started, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle reinstated Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras, who had been suspended for the 1963 season due to gambling.

Beginning this season, the home team in a given game was allowed the option of wearing their white jerseys. Since 1957, league rules had mandated that the visiting team wear white and the home team wear colored jerseys. The NFL also increased the regular season roster limit from 37 to 40 active players, which would remain unchanged place for a decade.

The season ended when the Cleveland Browns shut out the Baltimore Colts 27–0 in the NFL Championship Game.

Rule changes

Active roster

Prior to the season, the NFL club owners voted to increase the regular season roster limit from 37 to 40 active players, the largest in league history up to that point.[1] This standard would remain in place until the 1974 season.[2]


The 1964 season introduced a noteworthy change in uniform rules. While the league had dictated since 1957 that the home team must wear a colored jersey and the visitors a white one, teams were now given the option of wearing their white jerseys at home. As a result, the Browns (who wore white at home before 1957), Cardinals, Colts (except for one home game which was originally scheduled to be an away game), Cowboys, Rams, Redskins, Steelers (for one game vs. Rams) and Vikings (except for most of one game in which the Lions forgot to bring their blue jerseys)[3] did so, while the rest reverted to home colors the following year. The Cardinals would not wear red at home until 1966, the Rams would not do so again until 1972, the Browns only once until 1975, and the Cowboys, aside from an unwilling use of their blue tops as the "home" team in Super Bowl V, have since continuously worn white at home. The Steelers would wear white at home for most home games from 1966 until 1969 (the first year of head coach Chuck Noll), but would not wear white as the "home" team until Super Bowl XL in 2005 and have not worn white in a game in Pittsburgh since Three Rivers Stadium opened in 1970.


1964 Regular season games not broadcast on National TV

Date Time Teams Local TV Announcers
September 12, 1964 9:00 PM EDT St. Louis @ Dallas KMOX-TV (St. Louis area) Jack Drees and Bill Fischer
September 19, 1964 11:00 PM EDT Detroit @ Los Angeles WJBK-TV (Detroit area) Van Patrick and Jim Morse
September 25, 1964 8:30 PM EDT Washington @ New York WTOP-TV (Washington D.C. area) Jim Gibbons and Eddie Gallaher
September 28, 1964 8:00 PM EDT Green Bay @ Detroit WBAY-TV (Green Bay area) and WISN-TV (Milwaukee area) Earl Gillespie and Tony Canadeo
October 10, 1964 8:00 PM EDT Pittsburgh @ Cleveland Sports Network Incorporated (SNI) Ken Coleman and Warren Lahr
October 12, 1964 8:00 PM EDT St. Louis @ Baltimore
Game originally scheduled for St. Louis, but sites switched due to baseball Cardinals playing in the World Series
KMOX-TV (St. Louis area) Jack Drees and Bill Fischer

Conference races

The Western Conference race started with Baltimore losing its opener at Minnesota, 34–24. After that, the Colts went on an 11-game winning streak, taking the lead on October 4 with their 35–20 win over the Rams, and clinching a spot in the title game on November 22.

In the Eastern Conference, the Browns and the Cardinals played to a 33–33 tie on September 20, and were both 4–1–1 after six games. In Week Seven, Cleveland beat New York 42–20, while St. Louis fell to Dallas, 31–13. When the Cardinals beat the Browns 28–19 in Week Thirteen, they were only a game behind and needed a win and a Cleveland loss to have a chance for a playoff. St. Louis won, 36–34 in Philadelphia, but Cleveland also won, 52–20 over the Giants.

Week Western Eastern
1 4 teams (Det,GB,LA,Min) 1–0–0 3 teams (Cle, Phi, StL) 1–0–0
2 Tie (Det, LA) 1–0–1 Tie (Cle, StL) 1–0–1
3 Los Angeles Rams 2–0–1 Tie (Cle, StL) 2–0–1
4 Baltimore Colts 3–1–0 Tie (Cle, StL) 3–0–1
5 Baltimore Colts 4–1–0 Tie (Cle, StL) 3–1–1
6 Baltimore Colts 5–1–0 Tie (Cle, StL) 4–1–1
7 Baltimore Colts 6–1–0 Cleveland Browns 5–1–1
8 Baltimore Colts 7–1–0 Cleveland Browns 6–1–1
9 Baltimore Colts 8–1–0 Cleveland Browns 7–1–1
10 Baltimore Colts 9–1–0 Cleveland Browns 8–1–1
11 Baltimore Colts 10–1–0 Cleveland Browns 8–2–1
12 Baltimore Colts 11–1–0 Cleveland Browns 9–2–1
13 Baltimore Colts 11–2–0 Cleveland Browns 9–3–1
14 Baltimore Colts 12–2–0 Cleveland Browns 10–3–1

Final standings

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

Note: Prior to 1972, the NFL did not include tie games when calculating a team's winning percentage in the official standings

Eastern Conference
Cleveland Browns 10 3 1 .769 415 293
St. Louis Cardinals 9 3 2 .750 357 331
Philadelphia Eagles 6 8 0 .429 312 313
Washington Redskins 6 8 0 .429 307 305
Dallas Cowboys 5 8 1 .385 250 289
Pittsburgh Steelers 5 9 0 .357 253 315
New York Giants 2 10 2 .167 241 399
Western Conference
Baltimore Colts 12 2 0 .857 428 225
Green Bay Packers 8 5 1 .615 342 245
Minnesota Vikings 8 5 1 .615 355 296
Detroit Lions 7 5 2 .583 280 260
Los Angeles Rams 5 7 2 .417 283 339
Chicago Bears 5 9 0 .357 260 379
San Francisco 49ers 4 10 0 .286 236 330

NFL Championship Game

Cleveland 27, Baltimore 0 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, in Cleveland, Ohio on December 27.

Playoff Bowl

The Playoff Bowl was between the conference runners-up, for third place in the league. This was its fifth year and it was played a week after the title game.


Most Valuable Player Johnny Unitas, Quarterback, Baltimore Colts
Coach of the Year Don Shula, Baltimore Colts

See also


Works Cited

  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1961–1970 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)


  1. ^ "Halas Plans More Attack". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. July 14, 1964. sec. 2, p. 7. 
  2. ^ Finney, Peter (September 17, 1969). "Determining 40 Plus 7". New Orleans States-Item. New Orleans. p. 36. 
  3. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20110716024902/http://www.uniwatchblog.com/research-projects/white-at-home-in-the-nfl/
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