GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made history on Sunday by throwing his 500th career touchdown pass.
“That’s a lot of touchdown passes,” Rodgers said after a 27-24 victory over the New England Patriots.
Indeed it is. Rewinding all the way back to 2000 – eight seasons before Rodgers jumped into the starting lineup – he’s thrown more touchdown passes than 14 franchises.
Rodgers has 455 touchdown passes in regular-season play – also fifth in NFL history – and another 55 in the playoffs. The milestone throw went to rookie Romeo Doubs.
“Yeah, it’s a fun number. That’s a lot of touchdowns,” Rodgers said. “Some of those, there’s been some interesting stories around the century marks for those. I don’t know where that ball went; I’m sure Romeo’s got it somewhere. But it means I’ve played a long time. A lot of different guys involved in that, not sure I could name all of them. I probably could name many of them. But fun to get Romeo that one, especially on a really great play by him.”
Coming on the heels of a rare pick-six, Rodgers threw this 499th touchdown pass to start the third quarter. On second-and-19, he fired a bullet to tight end Robert Tonyan between two defenders for a 20-yard touchdown that gave the Packers a 14-10 lead.
New England answered on the ensuing possession with rookie Bailey Zappe throwing the first touchdown of his career to make it 17-14.
With the Packers trailing 24-17 midway, Rodgers got No. 500 with 6:14 left in the fourth quarter. It was a clutch play, considering the circumstances, a back-shoulder throw to Doubs to tie the score at 24.
“A really nice release,” Rodgers said. “I told them during the week, ‘I don’t want you guys expecting back-shoulders. I want you to try to win on top.’ And the timing he had really was excellent, because he tried to win on top on the ball. He wasn’t waiting for the back-shoulder. He’s got really strong hands. I told him after the game, ‘I’m going to keep coming to you. I’m proud of you. That was awesome the last drive, awesome on the back-shoulder, and it would have been a spectacular game finishing that one off.’ But he’s a great kid, really proud of him, happy he’s ours.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick knew the challenge that awaited his defense this week. Discussing the importance of pre-snap disguising of coverage, the legendary coach said earlier in the week:
“We certainly don’t want to give him anything more than he already has. He’s seen it all a million times. They don’t turn the ball over. He doesn’t make very many mistakes. He never has. He’s a very resourceful quarterback. He makes the plays that are there. Then he makes a few plays that really aren’t there. Then he rarely makes a mistake where he has a bad play. There’s very, very few of those. I think that’s one of the things that makes him a great quarterback.
“He’s got a great arm. He’s got a great touch. He’s accurate. He helps the team win. He does the things that they need to do to win. He makes the plays that there’s not many guys that could make. But he doesn’t try to do that all the time and he makes good decisions. Certainly, he’s very protective of the ball and the operation of the offense. And he has a lot of freedom which he should. He makes a lot of good decisions.”
Here are the five players with 500 touchdown passes.
Regular season: 627
Regular season: 571
Regular season: 539
Regular season: 508
Regular season: 455