Saturday, November 6, 2010
Two teams that had entered the NFL in 1933, the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Reds, met on November 6, 1934 on a muddy field at Philadelphia’s Temple Stadium. Neither club had been very successful thus far. The Eagles, coached by Lud Wray, had gone 3-5-1 in their inaugural season and carried a 1-5 record into the game against the Reds. Moreover, they had been shut out in each of their last three contests.
The situation was even worse with Cincinnati, which debuted at 3-6-1 in 1933 and was 0-7 thus far in ’34. Led by player/coach Algy Clark, they had scored a grand total of 10 points in the seven games. The team was on financially shaky ground and on the brink of being disbanded.
There were approximately 2000 fans present for one of only two Eagles home games played at Temple Stadium (they typically played at the Baker Bowl). It didn’t take long for the tone of the contest to be set. On the fifth play, back Ed Storm ran 36 yards for a touchdown. By the end of the first quarter, the Eagles had a 26-0 lead on their way to a 64-0 shellacking of the Reds.
Star HB Swede Hanson (pictured above), an outstanding open-field runner who was provided with plenty of opportunities to show off his talent, scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one on an interception return) and gained 190 yards rushing on 18 carries. End Joe Carter also scored three TDs, all on pass receptions. Hanson, Carter, and tailback Ed Matesic each had scoring plays of over 40 yards. The Eagles were effective both running the ball and passing - of their ten touchdowns, four came on runs, five on passes, and one on an interception.
While the records are sketchy (Hanson’s rushing total may include pass receptions or kick returns, as there are discrepancies in some accounts), Philadelphia did set a league record for most points by the winner of a shutout in which both teams were NFL members (the Rochester Jeffersons defeated a non-league-affiliated Fort Porter team 66-0 in 1920). No Eagles team since has run up as many points in a game, shutout or otherwise.
The disastrous defeat marked the end for the Cincinnati franchise, which promptly folded. It was replaced by a team called the St. Louis Gunners that completed the season – and won its first game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-0. Six players from the Reds played for the Gunners, a club made up of local talent and castoffs from other NFL teams. St. Louis went 1-2; the combined Reds/Gunners record was 1-10 for a last-place finish in the Western Division. The Gunners did not return for the 1935 season.
Oddly enough, Cincinnati’s player/coach Clark joined the Eagles (as a player only) for the remainder of the season. Philadelphia returned to earth the following week, losing to Brooklyn by a 10-7 score, although they won their last two games and were 4-7 for the year, tying with the Dodgers for third in the Eastern Division. They scored a total of 63 points in their other ten contests, but all four of their wins were shutouts.
The big game against Cincinnati helped Swede Hanson put together his best of eight seasons in the NFL (five with the Eagles). He ranked second in rushing (805 yards) on a league-leading 146 carries (tied with Detroit’s Ace Gutowsky) and his 5.5 yards per attempt ranked fourth. His eight touchdowns (7 rushing, one on the INT return) put Hanson in a tie for second with Dutch Clark of the Lions (one behind leader Beattie Feathers of the Bears). The 190-yard (or so) rushing performance was one of three that he had in 1934 – the first three in franchise history – and Hanson was a 2nd-team All-NFL selection by the league and the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Joe Carter also had a notable season, co-leading the NFL in pass receiving with 16 catches (along with Red Badgro of the Giants). His 238 receiving yards ranked second, as did his four receiving touchdowns.