Photo Credit: Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

By Zane Miller

Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr claimed a solid season in 1960, throwing for four touchdowns and 1,358 yards to take a 4-4 record in the games he started. The Packers would go 8-4 and reach the Championship Game that season, although Starr and the team would lose to the Philadelphia Eagles 17-13.

Looking to build off of the momentum from the strong regular season and avenge the title game loss, Starr and the Packers did just that with an 11-3 regular season record, with the team winning all but one of their home contests during the 1961 campaign.

Starr’s best touchdown pass game of the season occurred with his November 19th game against the Los Angeles Rams, as he threw for three touchdowns and 173 yards, as the Packers earned a 35-17 victory to jump out to an 8-2 record. As for his top passing yardage game, Starr would throw for a near-career high 311 yards, just 10 short of his career mark he would set in 1967. In his October 29th, 1961 game against the Minnesota Vikings, Starr added two touchdown passes with no interceptions as the Packers easily scored a 28-10 win, pushing their winning streak to six games.

However, Starr would have his worst game of the year on November 5th against the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts, as he would only pass for 64 yards and no touchdowns, although he would score a rushing touchdown in the first quarter. After going six-for-17 on pass attempts, the Packers would lose 45-21 to the Colts, with Baltimore claiming a run of 21 consecutive points in the second half to pull away in the victory.

Starr would complete the 1961 campaign with 16 passing touchdowns and 2,418 passing yards, tying for the sixth spot in the touchdown list and picking up the fourth position in yardage. Despite getting a top-10 result, Starr would only throw half as many touchdowns as Eagles quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, who scored 32 passing TDs to lead the NFL to go along with a league-leading 3,723 passing yards.

Starr threw the same number of touchdowns as Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas, although Unitas would only take an 8-6 record to miss the 1961 postseason. Starr’s closest contemporary in terms of passing yardage would be Cleveland Browns quarterback Milt Plum, as he came just short of matching Starr with 2,416 yards in his final season in Cleveland, taking a 7-5-1 record in his starts in the process, with the Browns missing the playoffs as well.

With the Packers finishing 1961 with an 11-3 record, the team would receive an automatic berth into the Championship Game, this time against the 10-3-1 New York Giants. The game would not be close at any point past the first half, as Green Bay scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter, eventually winning 37-0 to claim their seventh championship in franchise history. Starr matched his season best with three touchdowns through the air, as well as nabbing 164 passing yards in the victory.

The 1961 campaign would be the first of four times that Starr would earn more than 10 wins in a season, a feat made even more impressive with most of his career being played under the 14-game era of regular season play.

With all of the statistics in mind, I grade Starr’s 1961 season at an A, as although he was not the best quarterback during that year with Jurgensen holding down both major passing categories on the way to an All-Pro season, Starr still managed impressive numbers and, most importantly, got the job done in the Championship Game.

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