In 1946, the Rams moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles and the Browns popped up in their place. The two franchises would face each other in three NFL Championship games from 1950 to 1955, with the Browns winning twice and the Rams taking the trophy in 1951. Cleveland, the most dominant franchise of the era, would win seven of their first eight meetings against the L.A. Rams.
Since then, it’s been all Rams, as they will try to improve their record against the Browns to 13-4 since 1965 when the two teams meet again on Sunday.
It’s no surprise that the franchises from different conferences have not faced off that often, or that the Cleveland Browns have lost a lot of games in the Super Bowl era, but even when the Rams are down, they’re always a little less down than Cleveland. Will that continue on Sunday?
The start of the era
The Rams started their dominance with a 42-7 win over the Browns in 1965, a lopsided victory even though Cleveland entered the game 10-2 and L.A. was 3-9. Roman Gabriel threw five touchdown passes, Tommy McDonald had 200 receiving yards and three scores (the most touchdowns ever by a Rams player against Cleveland), and Jim Brown was held to 20 rushing yards on 13 carries. Some footage of the game has been uploaded to YouTube recently.
The Rams would win the next three games in the series 24-6, 30-17, and 9-0. Meaning they had allowed just four touchdowns in those four games. Even when Rams QB Pat Haden was intercepted three times in 1977, L.A. would win 9-0 and also intercept Cleveland’s QBs three times. By then, Jim Brown had moved from the field to the booth:
A year later, the Browns would lay an upsetting blow to a great Rams team, winning 30-19. It was the first time Cleveland had beat L.A. in 15 years and they featured a young tight end named Ozzie Newsome. Many years later, as GM of the Baltimore Ravens, Newsome would draft quarterback Joe Flacco, the expected starter for the Browns on Sunday if Dorian Thompson-Robinson isn’t deemed ready to return from concussion protocol.
The Rams won three of the next four games in the series, culminating in a 38-23 victory in 1990 in which Jim Everett had four touchdown passes and Kevin Greene had three sacks (most by a Rams player against the Browns). By then, the Rams had gone 7-2 against the Browns over the past 25 years.
The Rams and Browns have played twice on Monday Night Football. First in 1987, a 30-17 win for the Browns. Next in 2003, a 26-20 win for the Rams, in which Marc Bulger, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Aeneas Williams led St. Louis to victory. In attendance for the game was 18-year-old Cleveland Cavs rookie LeBron James.
Just like the Rams, James would eventually find himself matriculating from Cleveland to Los Angeles.
My favorite Rams/Browns moment was in 2003 when @aeneas35 took over the game with his 2 INT, 1 TD and quarterback sack performance.— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) November 30, 2023
Young Lebron James was luckily to bare witness pic.twitter.com/3kjjerTOPb
The Browns did blow out the Rams in a game in 1993. But six years later, when St. Louis became the best team in the NFL...and “the new Browns” became the worst...the Rams won 34-3. It was a rare meeting between an 0-6 team and a 5-0 team, with the expected team getting the win.
Since 1999, the Rams have only lost one game to the Browns and it came at a time when St. Louis had yet to win. The Rams dropped to 0-8 in 2007 under head coach Scott Linehan, blowing a 14-0 first quarter lead.
The Rams have won the most recent three games by scores of 13-12, 24-6, and 20-13. Sean McVay is just 1-0 against Cleveland, a game that featured Cooper Kupp scoring two touchdowns and the Browns getting little help from Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham, Jr. A couple years later, OBJ helped the Rams win the Super Bowl. A year after that, Mayfield helped McVay make up a little ground for the loss of Cooper Kupp.
John Johnson called game the last time the Rams played the Browns.@iamjohnthethird had the game ending INT on a potential game tying drive in Cleveland. Leading to the Rams victory! pic.twitter.com/efPqz2QFVL— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) November 29, 2023
At this point, the Browns are playing their best football since 2007, the last time that Cleveland finished a season with a positive point differential and the last time they beat the Rams. Right now, the Browns are +30 and even when they went 11-5 in 2020, they were -11. The Browns have a number one defense in yards allowed, and they’ve only been in the top-10 three times since 1990.
It’s rare that the Rams go into a game against the Browns with a worse record, but that is the case this weekend. However, the teams feel almost evenly matched as they attempt to survive injuries and inconsistent play thus far this season. It’s not often that they’re evenly matched.
They haven’t been throughout history.