1936-1945 - The Cleveland Years

History: The Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions feature a close series

Lions QB Bobby Layne passing against the Los Angeles Rams. (Date Unknown credit Unknown)

As the Los Angeles Rams prepare for their Week 6 matchup against the Detroit Lions, we look back at the history of these two franchises head to head. While the Rams and Lions no longer meet often and have met just once in the postseason, both franchises have had some notable moments facing each other. Let’s look at the history between the two franchises:

Head to head records and first meeting between the two franchises

Through 83 contests between the two franchises, the Rams hold a 43-39-1 edge over Detroit. The then Cleveland Rams met the Detroit Lions for the first time at League Park in Cleveland during the 1937 season. The result was an ugly one for the Rams, getting shutout 28-0. The Lions’ defense scored 14 points on the Rams in that game (one interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery for a touchdown).

Thanksgiving contests between the Rams and Lions

The Lions maintain a great tradition of playing on Thanksgiving. The Rams and Lions have squared off twice on this holiday, with the Rams winning both times. On Thanksgiving in 1945, the Cleveland Rams traveled to Detroit and defeated the Lions 28-17. Tom Harmon and Jim Benton stole the show for Cleveland that day. Playing halfback and punt returner, Harmon intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards for a score and returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown. Jim Benton caught two touchdown passes for the Rams in the win. The Rams won the championship that year before moving to Los Angeles the following season.

The two teams met again 22 years later on Thanksgiving. The Fearsome Foursome Era was at its height, and the 7-1-2 Rams demolished the Lions, 31-7. The Rams’ daunting defense shut down Lions QB Milt Plum, holding him to only 38 yards passing and with two interceptions, with one each to Eddie Meador and Jack Pardee.

1952 National Conference Playoff

With the Cleveland Browns waiting for an opponent in the 1952 NFL Championship Game, Detroit and Los Angeles faced off in their only postseason encounter. The eventual NFL champions defeated the defending champion Rams 31-21 at Tiger Stadium. Detroit’s running attack beat the Rams as the Lions scored three of their four touchdowns on the ground that day. The Lions went on to defeat the Cleveland Browns in the 1952 NFL championship.

Last meeting between the two clubs

The Rams last meeting against the Lions was one of the final games in St. Louis for the franchise. Todd Gurley stole the show, rushing for 140 yards on 16 carries. He scored two touchdowns in the Rams’ 21-14 Week 14 victory at the Edward Jones Dome, furthering his case for Rookie of the Year in 2015. Case Keenum, who had recently been named the Rams starting QB, struggled throwing for 124 yards and an interception. Despite the issues passing the football, the strong running game coupled with a solid defensive effort propelled the Rams to victory the last time these two teams faced each other.

Sources: pro-footballtalk.com, cbssports.com

Martin Cruz is a staff writer for Rams Talk. You can follow him on Twitter @MCruz1988.

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