Aaron Rodgers had thrown six touchdowns passes before halftime. He had tied the Green Bay Packers franchise record for an entire game and there was still two quarters left to play. Yet, Rodgers’ past dominance makes even a performance like that not enough to overly impress teammates.
"He was great; it’s normal," wide receiver Randall Cobb said following the Packers’ 55-14 win over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Sunday night.
In a season in which Rodgers has thrown 25 touchdown passes and only three interceptions, yeah, the bar has been set quite high. A game like Rodgers had Sunday night would qualify as a career-best performance for many NFL quarterbacks. He had a perfect passer rating at several different stages of the game and gave his team such a big lead that he wasn’t even needed on the field for the final 25 minutes of action.
Normal, though? Rodgers wasn’t too sure if ‘normal’ was the correct word to describe what happened at Lambeau Field in a blowout victory over Green Bay’s long-standing division rival.
"Well, I can promise you, this is not easy," Rodgers said. "It’s not easy to do this every week."
But Rodgers certainly has made it look easy at times this season — especially when facing the Bears’ defense. Between his game Week 4 at Chicago and Sunday night’s rematch, Rodgers had 10 touchdowns, zero interceptions and 617 passing yards. It marks the first time in NFL history that a quarterback has thrown 10 touchdowns with no interceptions against an opponent in a single season.
"I wouldn’t say it’s normal to have six touchdowns in the first half," wide receiver Jordy Nelson said with a smile. "But the opportunities were there. We had, what, seven possessions in the first half? You don’t go into a game thinking that. It was great to capitalize and get some big plays to shorten the possessions, and the defense did us a great job to get the ball back."
Though the Bears have been his main victim, Rodgers has torched defenses in seven of the Packers’ nine games this season. Aside from losses at Seattle (Week 1) and at New Orleans (Week 8), Rodgers has been unstoppable with 23 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Those are the kind of numbers that an expert "Madden Football" gamer would score if setting it on easy mode. Yet, this is a real-life situation of a quarterback displaying complete control over defenses that had supposedly spent all week preparing for him.
This wasn’t the first time this season that some have wondered whether this was among the best games of Rodgers’ career.
"I’ll tell you, I like the fact that I have to stand up here and answer that question a lot," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I’m going to have to wait until I’m sitting on that porch thinking back, but he was right on tonight. His statistics at halftime, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that. He played a great game."
Rodgers became only the second player in NFL history to throw six touchdowns in the first half of a game. The other? Daryle Lamonica of the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 19, 1969.
Rodgers spread the ball around in doing so, too. His first two touchdown passes were to tight ends, a position group that hasn’t had the production of recent years. The first was to Brandon Bostick, who only had one catch in the first eight games. The second was to Andrew Quarless, who only had two receptions in the game.
Then Rodgers started getting the usual suspects involved. Cobb had one touchdown catch, running back Eddie Lacy had one and Nelson had two. One of the touchdowns to Nelson was a 73-yarder, which gave Rodgers yet another record. It was his 16th career touchdown pass of 70-plus yards, which is the most in NFL history (he was tied at 15 with Peyton Manning and Brett Favre).
Rodgers nearly made franchise history with a seventh touchdown pass in this game, but the Packers settled for a field goal to put Green Bay up 45-0 in the third quarter. That was the end of Rodgers’ night, as backup Matt Flynn took over.
"There’s a time and a place for coming out of the game, and that was it," Rodgers said. "We were up 45-0 there, and it’s time to watch."
Rodgers was aware that he was one more touchdown away from Packers history. Strangely, it was a member of boy band One Direction who told Rodgers this. Well, not really.
"Harry Styles actually sent a tweet out a while back headed my way after Peyton (Manning) did it, so I was aware," Rodgers said. "That was a joke."
There were more records to be had, too. Green Bay would’ve set the franchise record for points in a game had McCarthy gone for even a field goal near the goal line in the closing seconds rather than running out the clock. The team record is 57 points, set in 1945. And that record remains.
But after a game in New Orleans two weeks ago that wasn’t Rodgers-esque with two interceptions, he’s got to now be firmly back in the Most Valuable Player race.
"Pretty damn impressive," left guard Josh Sitton said. "We were unbelievably efficient. That was fun."