The Packers 1945 season finale on December 2 at Briggs Stadium would also prove to be Don Hutson’s final NFL game. Hutson had been retiring annually since 1941, but this one finally stuck. Unfortunately, the game was a downbeat lead-in to the team’s future without its biggest star.
Tulsa rookies Clyde Goodnight and Nolan Luhn opened the game at the ends for the Packers. After an exchange of punts, Don Hutson came in as a substitute the second time the Packers got the ball and caught a pass as the team drove down the field. On a jet-sweep-style end-around Hutson gained 15 yards down to the Lions five. However, two plays later, the same play resulted in a Hutson fumble and a turnover.
In the second quarter, a short Green Bay drive propelled by a Joe Laws 20-yard burst up the middle lead to a 15-yard field goal by Hutson and a 3-0 Green Bay lead. The next Packer drive featured a couple of sweeps by Bruce Smith to reach the Red Zone, but the Pack turned the ball over on downs at the end of the half.
Things deteriorated in the third quarter. Detroit featured the short punt formation in this game and accumulated 249 yards passing. The first Lion possession of the half was driven by passes, including a very odd two-handed basketball pass from blocking back Bill Callihan to end Jack Matheson for 15 yards over the middle. A Bob Westfall one-yard touchdown plunge culminated that drive to give Detroit the lead 7-3. On the Lions’ next chance, another two-handed basketball chest pass from Callihan to Matheson helped move the team to the Packer 25 where tailback Chuck Fenenbock hit wingback Andy Farkas for a 25-yard touchdown to end the scoring, 14-3. Two more Packer drives in the fourth quarter ended abruptly by turning the ball over on downs and by interception. On Green Bay’s last gasp, Hutson caught the last two passes of his career from Irv Comp in the closing minutes.
As to Hutson’s positioning, Don lined up for 36 plays on offense. On 23 of them, he was split wide or flexed away from the interior line. On the 27 offensive plays when Hutson was not on the field, neither Packer end was spread wide even once.
The Lions’ win was the first time they had beaten the Packers in 11 games and allowed Detroit to slip past Green Bay into second place in the West for the year. The first time the two teams played in 1945, the Packers pounded the Lions 57-21, with Hutson catching four touchdown passes and kicking five PATs in the second quarter to set a league record of 29 points in one quarter. That would have been the game on which to go out.
All custom cards colorized.