America's first football titles
Going back to the first NFL Championship game in 1933, 24 U.S. cities have won professional football titles, including NFL championships, AFL championships, and Super Bowls. Here's a look at each city's first.
From 1920-1932, the NFL champion was determined by win-loss record, not in a title game. Those seasons have been omitted from this list.
From 1967-1970, the winners of the AFL Championship and NFL Championship games met in the Super Bowl. Only the winners of the Super Bowl in those years are included.
Year given is year that the game was played in, not necessarily the year of the season.
Compiled by Bobby Bonett
NFL Championship: Bears 23, New York Giants 21
The NFL instituted a playoff system to crown the league’s champion in 1933. From 1920-1932, however, teams were awarded the title based on best regular-season record. Several titles were disputed during the 13-year stretch because of non-league opponents. Finally, in front of 26,000 people at Wrigley Field, the Bears won the inaugural title game. Chicago’s Jack Manders recorded the first points in the game on a field goal, and the Giants’ Harry Newman threw the game’s first touchdown pass to Morris “Red” Badgro. The winning share for the game was $210.34; Giants players received $140.22 as their consolation prize.
1940: Bears beat Washington Redskins, 73-0, in NFL Championship
1941: Bears beat New York Giants, 37-9, in NFL Championship
1943: Bears beat Washington Redskins, 41-21, in NFL Championship
1946: Bears beat New York Giants, 24-14, in NFL Championship
1963: Bears beat New York Giants, 14-10, in NFL Championship
1986: Bears beat New England Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX
NEW YORK, 1934
NFL Championship: Giants 30, Chicago Bears 13
In their second of 14 appearances in NFL Championship games between 1933 and 1969, the Giants exacted revenge for their 1933 defeat against Chicago. The loss was Chicago’s first of the season. New York went on to lose 11 of their next 13 title games.
1938: Giants beat Green Bay Packers, 23-17, in NFL Championship
1956: Giants beat Chicago Bears, 47-7, in NFL Championship
1969: Jets beat Baltimore Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III
1987: Giants beat Denver Broncos, 39-20, in Super Bowl XXI
1991: Giants beat Buffalo Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV
2008: Giants beat New England Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII
NFL Championship: Lions 26, New York Giants 7
In front of the second smallest crowd to watch an NFL Championship game - 15,000 at University of Detroit Stadium - Detroit defeated the Eastern Division champion Giants. Chicago overcame the air attack of Ed Danowski, and his top receiver Tod Goodwyn, in the win.
1952: Lions beat Cleveland Browns, 17-7, in NFL Championship
1953: Lions beat Cleveland Browns, 17-16, in NFL Championship
1957: Lions beat Cleveland Browns, 59-14, in NFL Championship
GREEN BAY, 1936
NFL Championship: Packers 21, Boston Redskins 6
The Packers kicked off their “Titletown” resume in 1936, beating the Redskins in their final year in Boston. The Packers were led in the regular season by legendary wide receiver Don Hutson, who finished the 12-game season with 536 yards receiving.
1939: Packers beat New York Giants, 23-17, in NFL Championship
1944: Packers beat New York Giants, 14-7, in NFL Championship
1961: Packers beat New York Giants, 37-0, in NFL Championship
1962: Packers beat New York Giants, 16-7, in NFL Championship
1965: Packers beat Cleveland Browns, 23-12, in NFL Championship
1967: Packers beat Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, in Super Bowl I
1968: Packers beat Oakland Raiders, 33-14, in Super Bowl II
1997: Packers beat New England Patriots, 35-21, in Super Bowl XXXI
2011: Packers beat Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, in Super Bowl XLV
WASHINGTON, D.C., 1937
NFL Championship: Redskins 28, Chicago Bears 21
In their first season in Washington, the Sammy Baugh-led Redskins won a virtual play-in game against the New York Giants on the last day of the regular season to earn a berth in the finals. They went on to defeat the Bears in front of 15,870 fans at Wrigley Field. It was the fifth different champion in five years for the NFL.
1942: Redskins beat Chicago Bears, 14-6, in NFL Championship
1983: Redskins beat Miami Dolphins, 27-17, in Super Bowl XVII
1988: Redskins beat Denver Broncos, 42-10, in Super Bowl XXII
1992: Redskins beat Buffalo Bills, 37-24, in Super Bowl XXVI
NFL Championship: Rams 15, Washington Redskins 14
With the usually dominant Packers and Bears in the midst of a down year, the Cleveland Rams took advantage and won the Western Division with a 9-1 record. They took on veteran Sammy Baugh and the Redskins in the championship. The game started off with a safety when Baugh threw a pass that hit the goal post and bounced back in the end zone; at the time, the goal posts were still in the end zone, and rules dictated that play resulted in a safety. Redskins owner George Preston Marshall may have made the bigger mark, though, forcing a rule change to make plays like Baugh’s pass be ruled incomplete.
1950: Browns beat Los Angeles Rams, 30-28, in NFL Championship
1954: Browns beat Detroit Lions, 56-10, in NFL Championship
1955: Browns beat Los Angeles Rams, 38-14, in NFL Championship
1964: Browns beat Baltimore Colts, 27-0, in NFL Championship
NFL Championship: Eagles 7, Chicago Cardinals 0
he first NFL Championship game to be televised on television — by ABC — also wound up being the lowest scoring NFL Championship game in history. Philadelphia wound up on top in a blizzard at Shibe Park.
1949: Eagles beat Los Angeles Rams, 14-0, in NFL Championship
1960: Eagles beat Green Bay Packers, 17-13, in NFL Championship
LOS ANGELES, 1951
NFL Championship: Rams 24, Cleveland Browns 17
Playing in front of 57,522 fans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rams rebounded from back-to-back losses in the title game to beat the Browns, which replaced the Rams after they moved from Cleveland in 1945. The game was the first broadcast on both coasts, with the DuMont Network winning the rights for $75,000. Tom Fears scored the deciding touchdown in the fourth quarter, catching a pass from Norm Van Brocklin, and going 73 yards for the score.
1984: Raiders beat Washington Redskins, 38-9, in Super Bowl XVIII
NFL Championship: Colts 23, New York Giants 17 (OT)
The first overtime game in Championship history was held at Yankee Stadium in front of 64,185 people and later coined “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” Receiver Raymond Berry, who caught a still-record 12 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. The winning score was a 1-yard rush by Alan Ameche, capping off a 13-play, 80 yard drive.
1959: Colts beat New York Giants, 31-16, in NFL Championship
1971: Colts beat Dallas Cowboys, 16-13, in Super Bowl V
2001: Ravens beat New York Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV
AFL Championship: Oilers 24, Los Angeles Chargers 16
Houston won the inaugural AFL title game. The season was played in 1960, but the championship game was held on New Year’s Day in 1961. George Blanda led the attack for Houston, throwing three touchdowns, including an 88-yard pass to Billy Cannon in the fourth. Blanda added a field goal and three extra points in the win.
1961: Oilers beat San Diego Chargers, 10-3, in AFL Championship
AFL Championship: Texans 20, Houston Oilers 17 (2 OT)
Dallas prevented a Houston three-peat with a double-overtime win at Jeppesen Stadium in Houston. The game stands today as the longest championship game in pro football history. The Texans jumped out to a 17-0 lead at the half, but Houston responded with 17 consecutive points in the second half to send it to overtime. Dallas would win it on a 25-yard field goal by rookie Tom Brooker.
1972: Cowboys beat Miami Dolphins, 24-3, in Super Bowl VI
1978: Cowboys beat Denver Broncos, 27-10, in Super Bowl XII
1993: Cowboys beat Buffalo Bills, 52-17, in Super Bowl XXVII
1994: Cowboys beat Buffalo Bills, 30-13, in Super Bowl XXVIII
1996: Cowboys beat Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17, in Super Bowl XXX
SAN DIEGO, 1963
AFL Championship: Chargers 51, Boston Patriots 10
San Diego’s lone football title — and major sports title — came in emphatic fashion against the Patriots. Wide receiver Lance Alworth was the Chargers’ star. The team’s legacy is far more interesting than its championship victory, though. ESPN profiled the team as the first abusers of steroids in football: According to offensive tackle Ron Mix, the team’s strength coach, Alvin Roy, supplied the team with Dianabol, legal at the time, in excessive quantities.
Titles since: None
AFL Championship: Bills 20, San Diego Chargers 7
Buffalo cruised through the regular season, holding at least a tie of the Eastern Division standings for all 15 weeks before meeting the defending AFL champions in the title game. After falling behind 7-0 early, Buffalo ran off 20 consecutive points, finished off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Jack Kemp in the fourth quarter.
1965: Bills beat San Diego Chargers, 23-0, in AFL Championship
KANSAS CITY, 1970
Super Bowl IV: Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
A year after the AFL champion New York Jets shocked the Baltimore Colts, the Chiefs again managed to bring the Super Bowl to the AFL. In what would be the final Super Bowl that doubled as the AFL-NFL Championship game, Kansas City jumped out to an early 16-0 lead on Minnesota and never looked back. Len Dawson was named the game’s MVP, passing for 142 yards and a touchdown.
Titles since: None
Super Bowl VII: Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7
Miami’s first Super Bowl title also featured the only undefeated season in league history. The Dolphins finished off a 17-0 campaign by beating the NFC champion Redskins at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Coached by Don Shula, the Dolphins took a 14-0 lead into the second half, and managed to hold on for the win. Miami picked off Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer three times and won despite finishing with just 69 net yards passing.
1974: Dolphins beat Minnesota Vikings, 24-7, in Super Bowl VIII
Super Bowl IX: Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6
Pittsburgh kicked off its late 1970s dynasty with the city’s first football championship. In the final pro football game at Tulane Stadium, Pittsburgh put on an historic defensive show, holding the Vikings to 17 rushing yards and nine first downs. Franco Harris, the Steelers running back who was named the MVP, outperformed Minnesota’s entire offense, rushing for 158 yards and a score.
1976: Steelers beat Dallas Cowboys, 21-17, in Super Bowl X
1979: Steelers beat Dallas Cowboys, 35-31, in Super Bowl XIII
1980: Steelers beat Los Angeles Rams, 31-19, in Super Bowl XIV
2006: Steelers beat Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, in Super Bowl XL
2009: Steelers beat Arizona Cardinals, 27-23, in Super Bowl XLIII
Super Bowl XI: Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14
The first Super Bowl played in front of more than 100,000 fans — 103,438 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. — was dominated by Oakland. Ken Stabler threw a touchdown pass, Errol Mann kicked a pair of field goals, and the Vikings didn’t get on the board until they were already in a 19-0 hole. The game earned a Nielsen rating of 44.4, and a 30-second TV spot cost $125,000.
1981: Raiders beat Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10, in Super Bowl XV
SAN FRANCISCO, 1982
Super Bowl XVI: 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21
Joe Montana led San Francisco to the city’s first Super Bowl title, kicking off a dynasty that would deliver four more titles in the next nine seasons. Montana was named the game’s MVP, passing for 157 yards and a touchdown. Pat Summerall and John Madden called the game for CBS, one of eight Super Bowls the tandem would call.
1985: 49ers beat Miami Dolphins, 38-16, in Super Bowl XIX
1989: 49ers beat Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16, in Super Bowl XXIII
1990: 49ers beat Denver Broncos, 55-10, in Super Bowl XXIV
1995: 49ers beat San Diego Chargers, 49-26, in Super Bowl XXIX
Super Bowl XXXII: Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
John Elway finally got his Super Bowl title, and the Broncos pulled off a major upset of Green Bay to deliver the AFC its first Super Bowl win in 14 tries. Elway squared off against the Packers’ Brett Favre in a meeting of the league’s two best quarterbacks. However, it was Broncos running back Terrell Davis who stole the show, rushing for three touchdowns — each 1 yard long — and 157 yards on his way to being named MVP.
1999: Broncos beat Atlanta Falcons, 34-19, in Super Bowl XXXIII
ST. LOUIS, 2000
Super Bowl XXXIV: Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
One of the most dramatic Super Bowls in NFL history ended on a play that broadcaster Al Michaels coined “The Longest Yard.” St. Louis’ “Greatest Show on Turf,” led by Kurt Warner, held a 23-16 lead late in the game. Steve McNair managed to lead the Titans down the field after taking over on his own 12-yard line with 1:48 left. With six seconds left and the ball on the Rams’ 10, McNair hit Kevin Dyson on a pass up the middle. Mike Jones caught Dyson and tackled him at the 1-yard line as Dyson was reaching for the end zone, ending the game.
Titles since: None
Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
Entering the game, the prevailing thought was that St. Louis would cruise to its second Super Bowl win in three years. Instead, a sixth-round draft pick from Michigan began making his case for greatest quarterback ever. Tom Brady’s numbers weren’t eye-popping — just 145 yards and one touchdown — but he managed to guide the Pats past Kurt Warner and the Rams’ potent offense. Adam Vinatieri was the hero of the game, kicking the first of his many clutch Super Bowl field goals to win the game as time expired.
2004: New England Patriots beat Carolina Panthers, 32-29, in Super Bowl XXXVIII
2005: New England Patriots beat Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21, in Super Bowl XXXIX
TAMPA BAY, 2003
Super Bowl XXXVII: Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21
Tampa Bay’s first Super Bowl win was headlined by two storylines: Offense (Oakland) vs. Defense, and Gruden’s old team (Oakland) against his new team. Defense won out; the Raiders’ Rich Gannon was picked off five times, Tampa’s defense scored three touchdowns, and for only the second time, a safety (Dexter Jackson) was named Super Bowl MVP.
Super Bowl XLI: Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17
Peyton Manning’s chance at a Super Bowl didn’t start off too promising with Chicago return man Devin Hester returning the opening kick 92 yards for a touchdown. Chicago maintained a 14-6 lead heading into the second quarter, but the Colts’ offense would eventually take over. Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai combined for 190 yards rushing, Peyton Manning threw for 247 yards and a score as Indianapolis won the franchise’s first title since moving from Baltimore.