Champion Cleveland Rams
Stadium FirstEnergy Stadium
|Referee Ronald Gibbs|
Announcers Harry Wismer
Start date December 16, 1945
Announcer Harry Wismer
|Location Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland|
Similar 1951 NFL Championship Game, 1940 NFL Championship Game, 1948 NFL Championship Game, 1950 NFL Championship Game, 1949 NFL Championship Game
The 1945 National Football League Championship Game was the 13th NFL championship game. The Cleveland Rams defeated the Washington Redskins, 15–14, at Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 16.
This was the last game before the Rams moved west to Los Angeles, California. One play which provided the Rams' margin of victory led to a significant rule change in professional football. Additionally, It was the coldest NFL championship game up to that time, with a temperature of −8 °F (−22 °C).
In the first quarter, the Redskins had the ball at their own 5-yard line. Dropping back into the end zone, quarterback Sammy Baugh threw, but the ball hit the goal post (which at the time were on the goal line instead of at the back of the end zone) and bounced back to the ground in the end zone. Under the rules at the time, this was ruled as a safety and thus gave the Rams a 2–0 lead.
In the second quarter, Baugh suffered bruised ribs and was replaced by Frank Filchock. Filchock threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Steve Bagarus to give the Redskins a 7–2 lead. But the Rams scored just before halftime when rookie quarterback Bob Waterfield threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jim Benton. Waterfield's ensuing extra point was partially blocked, with the ball teetering on the crossbar, but it dropped over to give Cleveland a 9–7 lead.
In the third quarter, the Rams increased their lead when Jim Gillette scored on a 44-yard touchdown reception, but this time the extra point was missed. The Redskins then came back to cut their deficit to 15–14 with Bob Seymour's 8-yard touchdown catch from Filchock. In the fourth quarter, Washington kicker Joe Aguirre missed two field goals attempts, of 46 and 31 yards, that could have won the game.
But it was the safety that proved to be the margin of victory. Redskins owner George Preston Marshall was so mad at the outcome that he became a major force in passing the following major rule change after the season: A forward pass that strikes the goal posts is automatically ruled incomplete. This later became known as the "Baugh/Marshall Rule".
The NFL had only four game officials in 1945; the back judge was added in 1947, the line judge in 1965, and the side judge in 1978.
Total revenue generated by the championship game totaled $164,542, which included $15,081 for radio broadcast rights, a new record. Of this total, $95,261 was allotted to the players, resulting of winners' shares of about $1,409 per player for the victorious Rams and $902 per man for the losing Redskins.
Despite winning the world championship, Rams owner Dan Reeves lost money with his franchise during the 1945 season, helping to assure his move to Los Angeles in January 1946.
First downs: Rams 14, Redskins 8
Yards rushing: Rams 44 carries for 180 yards, Redskins 34 carries for 35 yards
Passing: Rams 11-for-27 for 192 yards (2 TDs), Redskins 9-for-20 for 179 yards (2 TDs)
Return yardage: Rams 131, Redskins 155
Fumbles-Lost: Rams 1-1, Redskins 1-0
Penalties: Rams 6 for 60 yards, Redskins 4 for 29 yards