The Green Bay Packers set an NFL record by scoring 49 points in the first half and then cruised to a 55-14 route of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field. The Packers scored in so many ways and on so many big plays and the sellout crowd went wild as the Pack dominated the game. The old record for points in a half also belonged to the Packers who scored 45 points in the first half in a 1967 game against the Cleveland Browns.
The 1983 Packers were an explosive offensive team with quarterback Lynn Dickey throwing to receivers James Lofton, John Jefferson, Philip Epps and tight end Paul Coffman while running backs Gerry Ellis and Eddie Lee Ivery could ran or catch passes out of the backfield. But it was this game that saw the 1983 Packers roll up the most points of the season.
The Packers were coming off a disappointing performance the previous week on Monday Night Football when they lost to the New York Giants 27-3. They certainly bounced back against Tampa Bay.
“As a team we were pretty embarrassed last week. We needed a good game today,” Dickey said after the game. “We were much more businesslike in practice all week.”
Epps got the scoring started with a 90-yard punt return for a score just four minutes into the first quarter that put the Packers ahead 7-0. After a Tampa Bay punt on the ensuing drive, Dickey found running back Jessie Clark out of the backfield on a 75-yard touchdown pass. That made it 14-0 Packers after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Packers went on a tear and scored 35 points. Running back Harlan Huckleby scored on a one-yard plunge to open the scoring and make it 21-0 Packers. Tampa Bay got their only points of the half on a pick six by linebacker Hugh Green who returned an errant Dickey pass 21 yards for a score to give the Bucs a brief glimmer of hope.
But then the touchdowns came in rapid succession for the Packers. Dickey found Coffman on a one-yard touchdown pass. Then linebacker Mike Douglass scooped up a fumble and returned it 35 yards for a score. Linebacker John Anderson then intercepted Tampa Bay starter Jack Thompson and returned that 27 yards for another touchdown.
The 1983 Packers defense struggled all season but in this game, they were strong. “Our personnel and our schemes were sound, but we weren’t getting the right executions,” Douglass said when asked about the difference between last week’s game and this one. “Today we were more aggressive and we forced a barrage of turnovers.”
The Packers closed out the half on yet another big play on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Dickey to Lofton to make it 49-7 at the half. The pass wasn’t deep but Lofton outran everybody to the end zone.
Lofton finished the game with four catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. That gave him 301 career receptions making him the fifth receiver in franchise history to top the 300 catch-mark. It was also his 20th career 100-yard receiving day.
Kicker Jan Stenerud kicked two field goals in the second half to add to the Packers lead. Those kicks were record-setting as well as the Norwegian-born kicker passed Jim Turner for second place on the NFL’s all-time points list with 1,447. Only George Blanda was still ahead of Stenerud at that point.
“I’m very pleased and proud of it, although today I went like everyone else,” Stenerud said. “It was one of my easiest days ever.”
Bucs head coach John McKay was humiliated by the game. He made a brief statement to reporters saying, “This is the worst performance of any team I’ve ever seen or been associated with. I’ve never even seen a game like that. Thank you.” When a reporter tried to ask a follow up question, McKay replied, “Get the hell away from me before I punch you in the mouth.”
How bad was the beating? The Packers outgained the Bucs 519 to 293 and the Bucs had only 20 yards rushing on 14 carries. Tampa Bay didn’t pick up a rushing first down until the final 3:32 of the game.
The Packers improved to 3-2 on the season while the Bucs dropped to 0-5. Unfortunately, the Packers struggling and banged up defense gave up points as fast as their elite offense could score them and they finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs when they lost on the final play of the final game of the season.
But on this day, the Packers dominated with big plays on both sides of the ball and set NFL records in the process.
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