Thanksgiving 1945: NFL's first 300-yd receiver

Only four players in the 90-year history of the National Football League have amassed 300 or more receiving yards in a game. The record holder, Willie “Flipper” Anderson, had the help of an overtime period to reach his 336-yard total in leading the Los Angeles Rams to a victory over the New Orleans Saints in 1989.

The first player ever to eclipse the 300-yard mark was Jim Benton of the Cleveland Rams who accomplished the feat on Thanksgiving Day 1945. Benton teamed up with Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Waterfield to haul in 10 passes for 303 yards, a yardage total that remains third in the NFL’s record book today.

Benton’s superb play wasn’t limited to just offense during this holiday showdown played on a frigid day at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium. He picked off the Lions on the game’s first play. Then Waterfield connected with him on a long pass that set up the Rams first score.

The Rams pulled away in the second quarter as Waterfield and Benton continued to click. The duo hooked up for a 70-yard touchdown pass play. Shortly thereafter, Benton hauled in a 35-yard reception to the one-yard-line. From there, Waterfield ran it in to give Cleveland a 21-7 halftime lead. The Lions added a couple of late scores but the Rams walked away with a 28-21 win to claim the NFL’s Western Division title.

Benton’s performance shattered the mark set by Green Bay Packers legend Don Hutson (237 yards) two years earlier in a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The record set on that Thanksgiving Day by Benton stood for 40 years until it was broken by the Kansas City Chiefs Stephone Paige in the 1985 season finale.

The NFL’s 300-yard games

303 – Jim Benton, Cleveland Rams vs. Detroit Lions, Nov. 22, 1945
302 – Cloyce Box, Detroit Lions vs. Baltimore Colts, Dec. 3, 1950
309 – Stephone Paige, Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers, Dec. 22, 1985
336 – Willie "Flipper" Anderson, Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints, Nov. 26, 1989 (OT)
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