Previously I mentioned the 1964 season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The second place Cardinals had 9-3-2 record, one half game behind the first place Cleveland Browns. The Browns were 10-3-1. Ironically, the Cardinals were better in face to face combat. There was a tie at 33 in an early season game at Cleveland; the Cardinals won 28 to 19 in week 13 in St Louis.
High expectations for 1965! After the first game, a loss to the Eagles, there was a 49 to 13 thrashing of the Cleveland Browns. This was one of the biggest wins in Cardinal history. The Browns were the defending champions of the NFL. They would go on to an 11-3 record in 1965 good for the Eastern Conference championship in 1965.
For St. Louis-Charlie Johnson completed just 11 passes but for 310 yards and six touchdowns. Sonny Randle caught seven of the 11 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Willis Crenshaw had just one pass but made it count; a 78 yard touchdown. The defense intercepted six passes for 114 yards in returns. They recorded four sacks putting the Browns back 41 yards.
For Cleveland-Even with the margin of that defeat, 36 points, there were some good points for Cleveland. Jim Brown always made his presence felt and this game was no exception. He carried 17 times for 110 or an average of 6.5 yards. Gary Collins caught six passes for 116 yards and the only touchdown. Larry Benz and Erich Barnes each had a pass interception for a total of 67 yards.
Week 5-The 20 to 7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. St. Louis completely stopped the Steelers offense. The only score for Pittsburgh came on a fumbled punt return at the Steelers’ five. I saw this game at Pitt Stadium and there was total frustration.
After this 4-1 start, fans had be thinking about finishing first in the Conference. Then the roof fell in. The Cardinals lost the next two games before hosting the Steelers. Pittsburgh came back from 14 to 3 in the fourth quarter to lead 17 to 14; but the Cardinals showed their resistance to a loss. With 37 seconds left, Charlie Johnson threw a 59 yard touchdown pass to Bill Gambrell. Final St Louis 21 Pittsburgh 17. This really hurt the Steelers. After this game, the Cardinals record was 5-3.
The Cardinals lost the remaining five games to end the season at 5-9. There were many more year end limpings in the future.