Three Feat – Packers Who Have Scored Three TDs in One Game
Reaching the end zone once in an NFL game is cause for back slapping and chest bumping.
Scoring three TDs in the same contest ought to carry with it an exemption from the league for excessive celebration.
From the helmetless days of professional football’s infancy to the high definition age of the 21st century, the Green Bay Packers have been scoring touchdowns. A select few have even done so in threes.
A total of 38 individuals have combined to register 67 instances of triple TDs in Packerland. Let’s take a closer look at some of these athletes who repeatedly struck pay dirt. We’ll start in 1925 when, on average, teams combined for fewer than three touchdowns a game and just over 60 percent of all contests ended with at least one team failing to score at all.
As a Minneapolis Marine, Marty Norton had faced the Packers twice: once in 1922 and again in 1924. In 1925, the player Green Bay Press-Gazette sports editor George Whitney Calhoun once called “the slipperiest individual that has cavorted on a Green Bay gridiron in many a moon” was in a Packers uniform.
On October 11 against the Milwaukee Badgers, Norton opened at left halfback in place of Verne Lewellen who was out with an injured ankle. At 5-feet-8 and 165 pounds, Norton was one of the smallest players on the field, but that didn’t prevent him from a big afternoon.
According to the play-by-play that appeared in the Press-Gazette the day after the game, Norton led all runners with 64 yards rushing on 14 carries. He was easily the top receiver as well hauling in four passes for 97 yards.
Norton blew the game open with three touchdowns in the middle two periods. He put the Packers ahead 10-0 on a 28-yard pass from Curly Lambeau early in the second quarter, then upped the ante to 17-0 on a 3-yard plunge later in the period. After a relatively quiet start to the second half, the back from Hamline University closed the third quarter by taking a 20-yard scoring toss from Charlie Mathys as Green Bay went up 24-0.
“Norton sure won a home here with his brilliant performance Friday night,” wrote Calhoun following the Packers’ 31-0 blowout. “Marty was in an auto wreck and got badly banged up, but he insisted on starting off the game.”
In Green Bay’s final two games of October, Norton pushed across three more touchdowns. At season’s end, he and Myrt Basing tied for the team scoring lead with 36 points each.
Don Hutson and Jim Taylor
Their playing careers never overlapped and they played different positions, but Don Hutson and Jim Taylor knew how to find the end zone… often.
Decades have passed since their careers ended, yet Hutson and Taylor still rank No. 1 and No. 2 on the list of top touchdown scorers in Packers’ history. No one has come close to supplanting them.
Hutson notched 105 touchdowns in 11 seasons and Taylor bulldozed his way to 91 in nine years. The three gentlemen who round out the top five do so from a distance: Ahman Green (68 touchdowns), Sterling Sharpe (66) and Paul Hornung (62).
The Alabama Antelope, as Hutson was known, counted three or more touchdowns nine times. His three-touchdown days came against the Rams (four times), Cardinals (three), Redskins and Lions.
Taylor tallied three touchdowns against six different opponents, with the Bears and Colts each getting seconds.
The two legends share another distinction. They are the only players in team annals to record back-to-back three-touchdown outings.
On Nov. 1, 1942, Hutson scored from 38, 73 and 65 yards out in a 55-24 drubbing of the Cardinals. A week later, his travels were shorter, as he struck pay dirt on passes of 11, 15 and 1 yard in Green Bay’s 30-12 schooling of the Rams.
Twenty years later, Taylor followed suit. On Nov. 4, 1962, he plowed across on four short runs as the Packers buried the Bears 38-7. Seven days later, he again scored four times from short range as Green Bay dispatched the Eagles 49-0.
Sterling Sharpe is the only Packer beside Taylor to have scored four touchdowns in more than one game. Sharpe did it twice. Taylor did it three times.
Sharpe, the Packers’ first-round draft pick in 1988, took his game to a new level in 1993. In his sixth season, the University of South Carolina product set an NFL record with 112 receptions.
Ten of those catches came in Tampa in October of that year. With his team fighting to stay in the NFC Central Division race, Sharpe caught four touchdown passes from quarterback Brett Favre to lead Green Bay to a 37-14 rout of the Buccaneers.
“You know you can’t ask for days better than this. And I never caught four touchdowns before in my life,” Sharpe told CBS commentator James Brown and analyst Hank Stram.
What Sharpe did the next time he bagged four scores was establish a pair of firsts. In hauling in four scores from Favre in Dallas on Thanksgiving 1994, Sharpe became the first Packer to score a touchdown in each quarter of a game. With 24 points, the wide receiver also set the team record for the most points scored in a losing cause as Green Bay dropped a 42-31 decision to the Cowboys.
That year was the last for Sharpe who retired because of a neck injury. The receiver notched one final team record before he departed: most receiving touchdowns in a season with 18.
While Hutson, Taylor and Sharpe are some of the biggest names to have scored three touchdowns in one game, others with less impressive resumes did so as well.
Wuert Engelmann has long been forgotten by most Packers fans, but the back had a record-setting quarter against the Steam Roller in Green Bay’s 48-20 victory on Oct. 25, 1931. Englemann became the first Packer to return a kickoff for a touchdown, and in catching two scoring passes from Red Dunn, he also was the first to score three TDs in one quarter (the first).
Fifty years later, Harlan Huckleby became another relative unknown to reach the end zone three times. Signed as a free agent by the Packers in July 1980, Huckleby won the starting job at halfback in game five of the 1981 season after a knee injury sidelined Eddie Lee Ivery in the opener. On Nov. 29 of that year, Huckleby scored on two 1-yard runs and on a 9-yard pass from Lynn Dickey. Huckleby accumulated 18 points despite gaining just 45 yards from scrimmage.
Derrick Mayes never emerged from the shadows of playing behind Antonio Freeman and Robert Brooks. But on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 1998, he stole the spotlight by snagging three touchdown passes from Favre in Green Bay’s 37-30 conquest of the Carolina Panthers. Unfortunately for Mayes, those were his last scores as a Packer, and he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks prior to the start of the 1999 season.
Below is a list of Packers who scored three or more touchdowns in one game more than once and the number of times they did it.
No. — Player
9 — Don Hutson
8 — Jim Taylor
4 — Paul Hornung
3 — Sterling Sharpe
Those who did it twice: Johnny Blood, John Brockington, Antonio Freeman, Ahman Green, Dorsey Levens, James Lofton, Max McGee, Elijah Pitts, and Tobin Rote.
Eric Goska is a freelance writer and statistics fanatic, who writes a “By the numbers” column for the Green Bay Press-Gazette about the Packers every season since 1994. Three editions of his book, “Packer Legends in Facts”, were published in the 1990s. In 2002 and 2003 the statistical encyclopedia was reworked and released under the title “A Measure of Greatness”.