StaTuesday: The rarity of Packers’ Rodgers throwing 3 INTs
Aaron Rodgers’ return to the Green Bay Packers did not go quite as planned.
The Packers lost at Carolina on Sunday, 31-24, and a day later were knocked out of the postseason race when Atlanta won on Monday night. In the defeat, Rodgers did something he hadn’t done in eight years — he threw three interceptions.
It was just the fourth time in his career that Rodgers has been picked off three times in a game (he’s never had more than three INTs). The first occurred in 2008 in his fourth start as Green Bay’s QB in a loss to Tampa Bay in which opposing quarterback Brian Griese also had three interceptions. Rodgers did it as well later that year against New Orleans in a 51-29 loss then one more time in 2009, against vs. the Buccaneers.
All four of Rodgers’ three-interception games occurred on the road. In fact, Rodgers has had only 15 multiple-interception games in his career and just five occurred at Lambeau Field — and all five ended with the Packers winning.
As noted above, Rodgers hasn’t been as fortunate when he throws three picks, with Green Bay losing each. Of course, throwing that many interceptions and losing shouldn’t be a surprise. The best winning percentage in Packers history when throwing three or more in a game (min. 4 games) is 25 percent by Lynn Dickey (6-18) and Zeke Bratkowski (1-3).
While Rodgers is 0-4 when he throws three picks in a game, when it comes to Packers quarterbacks, he is the best when it comes to not throwing the ball to the other team. His four three-interception games are tied for eighth-most in franchise history (since 1950), but when you look at the percentage of such games compared to the games he’s started, no one is even close.
(Note: In the below chart we use starts instead of games as many backup QBs come in for just a few plays, so it skewed their totals. While, yes, a quarterback could have thrown 3+ INTs when he didn’t start, those instances are rare and thus we went with starts in determining a percentage of three-interception games.)
* — Campbell never started a game. He had three games with 10+ attempts.
** — O’Malley subbed in one game for the Packers in 1950 and threw 15 passes — six of which were intercepted. He never played in the NFL again (although did play in the CFL and won a Grey Cup). Side note: He wore No. 76, which is just fantastic.
*** — Thomason started just one game in 1951, but had eight appearances with 16+ pass attempts.
Putting things in a modern context, since Rodgers became Green Bay’s starting quarterback in 2008, 24 other NFL quarterbacks have had more games with three interceptions than the Packers’ star. This includes Brett Favre, who was out of the NFL after the 2010 season, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and, of course, Jay Cutler.
The record of the 27 quarterbacks with at least four three-interception games since 2008 is pretty ugly (we’re looking at you Ryan Fitzpatrick and, of course, Cutler), but somehow Atlanta is 4-5 when Matt Ryan throws 3+ picks.
Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow, Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns