Today in Packers History: Hutson's High Point

Today in Packers History: Hutson's High Point

No Packers receiver has been able to accomplish what the great Don Hutson did 70 years ago against the Giants in New York. In a season for the ages, this game stood out.

The longest-standing pass receiving record in a single game in Green Bay Packers history was set 70 years ago today.

The incomparable Don Hutson, amidst one of the greatest individual seasons in NFL history, caught 14 passes (for 134 yards) against the Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Only two players for the Packers – Ken Payne in 1975 and Vince Workman in 1992 – have come as close as two receptions from the record since.

Unlike the Giants-Packers contest set for this Sunday, the Nov. 22, 1942, matchup held little weight in the playoff standings. The Giants were out of the race at 3-5 while the Packers at 6-2 were all but eliminated from Western Division title contention after losing for the second time to the unbeaten Bears.

That left the stage bare for Hutson and teammate Cecil Isbell to put on an aerial show. They did just that, hooking up for the record mark just five weeks after Hutson had established one. Previously, the end had caught 13 passes (for 209 yards) in a 45-28 victory over the Cleveland Rams at City Stadium on Oct. 18.

The Giants were more interested, however, in keeping Hutson out of the end zone rather than limiting his catches. Before the game New York coach Steve Owen let everyone know that Hutson, a two-time league scoring champ, had never scored a touchdown against them. The Packers played the Giants each season from Hutson's first in Green Bay (1935) until 1940.

The drought would be over in short time, however. By halftime, Hutson had caught two touchdowns raising his total to 16 on the season. His previous high had been 10 the season before.

Days later, Owen was quoted as saying, "The best way to stop Don Hutson is to let him catch a pass in the end zone. Then he can't catch another until they get the ball again."

Hutson also set NFL records for pass receiving yards and catches in a season with his big effort against the Giants, surpassing the old records of 1,032 and 58. He also kicked three extra points in the game to give him 15 total points. But even that was not enough as the Packers could only muster a 21-21 tie. A victory by Chicago at Detroit gave the Bears (9-0) the division title.

An interesting side note to Hutson's dominant game was that he played it on a sprained ankle. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that he was limping in team workouts just days before the game. Huston injured his ankle in a Nov. 8 game against the Rams, yet still caught 10 passes and a touchdown the following week at Chicago.

Despite World War II taking away many of the NFL's players in 1942 – some accounts said up to 100 players in a 10-team league – many regard Hutson's season as the best ever for a pass receiver. Even with pedestrian performances over his last two regular season games, Hutson finished with 74 catches for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns in just 11 games. Only one player for the Packers – Sterling Sharpe in 1994 – has caught more touchdown passes in a season (18).

The next closest league leader in 1942 to Hutson in receptions was Pop Ivy of the Chicago Cardinals with 27. In receiving yards, it was Ray McLean of the Bears with 571. In touchdown catches, it was McLean with eight. And in points scored, Hutson was first with 138, McLean second with 54.

All told, Hutson still holds 21 pass receiving records recognized by the Packers.


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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com

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