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Top Single Season NFL Receiving TDs

Updated on January 25, 2008

Jerry Rice

Mark Clayton

Sterling Sharpe

Receiving touchdowns are a bit harder to come by than rushing TDs. For one, on short and goal, teams usually try to run the ball in. They also usually employ one or two feature running backs. But most teams have 4-5 wide receivers, as well as tight ends and running backs who are involved in the passing game. So there is more spreading the ball around. Here, we take a look at the top ten single seasons in NFL history for receiving touchdowns since 1960, minus AFL stats.

Randy Moss, New England Patriots - 23 TDs - 2007

Jerry Rice's record stood for 20 years, but in the Patriots' magical season of 2007, Randy Moss became the all-time leader with 23 touchdown catches in a single season. It helped the his QB, Tom Brady, also broke the NFL record with 50 TD throws, and also that he was on a team that went 16-0 in the regular season.

Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers - 22 TDs - 1987

We've said it enough in other hubs, but Jerry Rice pretty much played the game like he was on another planet. He ranks first all-time with 22,895 receiving yards and 197 total TDs for his career, which both rank him way ahead of the pack. And Rice's 22 touchdown catches in 1987 is also the best total in a single season (though Randy Moss is threatening that as we speak in 2007). That season, Rice caught 65 passes for 1078 yards, so an astounding 34% of his catches were for TDs.

Mark Clayton, Miami Dolphins - 18 TDs - 1984

Mark Clayton played most of his career with the Miami Dolphins catching passes from Dan Marino, who is currently the NFL's all-time passing leader. Clayton caught 84 TD passes in his career, including a career high of 18 in 1984, ranking him tied for second in NFL history for a single season. Clayton caught 73 passes for 1389 yards that year, for a 19.0 yards per catch average.

Sterling Sharpe, Green Bay Packers - 18 TDs - 1994

Sterling Sharpe only played for seven seasons in the NFL, as a neck injury cut short a fine career. Sharpe topped 1000 yards five times and had double digits in touchdown catches four times, including a career high of 18 in 1994, tying him with Mark Clayton for second place in a single season in NFL history. That season, Sharpe caught 94 passes for 1119 yards.

Carl Pickens, Cincinnati Bengals - 17 TDs - 1995

Carl Pickens had two incredible seasons back to back in 1995 and 1996 for the Bengals, where he played most of his career. In 1995, Pickens caught 99 passes for a career high of 1234 yards and 17 touchdowns, the latter tying him for fourth in NFL history. Then in '96, Pickens caught 100 passes for 1180 yards and 12 TDs.

Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers - 17 TDs - 1989

Jerry Rice was so good that he had to find his way onto this list more than once. Rice's second best season for TD catches ranks him in a tie for fourth all-time in that category with 17, in 1989. That season, Rice caught 82 passes for 1483 yards.

Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings - 17 TDs - 1998

1998 was Randy Moss' rookie year and first with the Vikings. With 17 touchdowns, Moss set a high standard for himself that he wound up repeating once. He's also on pace to shatter that record in 2007 with New England. But in that rookie year, Moss caught 69 passes for 1313 yards and the 17 TDs for a 19.0 yards per catch average.

Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings - 17 TDs - 2003

Moss tied his personal best with 17 touchdown catches in 2003, and that same season had personal highs in total catches (111) and receiving yardage (1632).

Cris Carter, Minnesota Vikings - 17 TDs - 1995

There's a reason ESPN's Chris Berman always joked that all Cris Carter did was "catch touchdown passes." That's because he caught a lot of them. In fact, Carter ranks second in NFL history to Jerry Rice with 130 total TD catches. In 1995 with Minnesota, he had his career best with 17, tying him for fourth place all-time in that category. Carter also tied a career best that year with 122 receptions, and had a personal high of 1371 receiving yards.

Terrell Owens, San Francisco 49ers - 16 TDs - 2001

Since joining the NFL in 1996, Terrell Owens (T.O.) has reached double digits in touchdown catches six times. But in 2001, T.O. had a personal best of 16 TDs while playing for San Francisco. That season, he caught 93 passes for 1412 yards. Owens currently plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina Panthers - 16 TDs - 2004

Muhsin Muhammad was Jake Delhomme's top target for a few years in Carolina. In 2004, Muhammad caught 93 passes for a career high 1405 yards, and his 16 touchdowns that season is a personal best that ranks him in a tie for 9th place in NFL history for a single season. Muhammad currently plays for the Chicago Bears.


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    • profile image

      Zach 6 years ago

      Calvin johnson will break that this year

    • profile image

      The Truth 6 years ago

      Rices record was against scab replacement players which by the way makes him a scab.

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      Nathan 9 years ago

      you should make it known that RIce caught 22 TDs in 1987 in only 12 games

    • Nashville G-man profile image

      Nashville G-man 9 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      thanks for letting me know, I changed the image