GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday against the Chicago Bears became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw to 450 career touchdown passes. He’s at 451 and counting.
That’s impressive. So is this: In improving to 23-5 all-time against Chicago, Rodgers has thrown 63 touchdown passes. If placed on the Bears’ all-time list, Rodgers would be tied for sixth with Erik Kramer (46 starts from 1994 through 1998) and Ed Brown (66 starts from 1954 through 1961). When the Packers and Bears square off again on Dec. 4, Rodgers could move further up that mythical list. Mitchell Trubisky is fifth with 64 in 50 starts and Jim McMahon is fourth with 67 in 61 starts.
Green Bay’s relatively comfortable 27-10 victory over its longtime rival on Sunday night left Rodgers with some mixed emotions. With two touchdown passes and a 131.1 passer rating, he became the first quarterback in NFL history with five consecutive games of two-plus touchdown passes and a 125-plus rating against a single opponent. In a seven-game winning streak against Chicago, he’s thrown 18 touchdowns vs. zero interceptions. Offensively as a whole, Aaron Jones had a big night, the Packers topped 200 rushing yards and there was only one three-and-out.
But Rodgers didn’t play his best game and the offense left points on the field. Rodgers said No. 450 should have come on the opening series, when he missed Allen Lazard in the end zone. He took the blame for the botched handoff to AJ Dillon that resulted in a turnover. Center Josh Myers had a “brain fart,” as Rodgers called it, and snapped the ball on the wrong count and hit motioning receiver Christian Watson for what could have been another turnover.
“The second half was frustrating but it’s tough to win in this league, so I’m very happy,” Rodgers said with a tone that didn’t sound very happy. “Just like them, we expected to win this game, so I’m not up here surprised about what happened. Felt like we had a good week of practice and, if we just played our game, that this was the type of outcome that could happen. But I’m disappointed in the second half.”
The 24-point first half was fantastic. The Packers had the ball five times and scored three touchdowns and one field goal. The output had Rodgers thinking wistfully about the 2014 juggernaut. In a home romp against Chicago, Rodgers threw six touchdown passes in the first half alone.
This group is not that group, obviously. Jordy Nelson has retired, Davante Adams was traded and Randall Cobb was eight years younger. In time, maybe this passing attack will get more explosive. But, at this early juncture of the season, this was the winning formula: Sammy Watkins was targeted a team-high four times and six players were targeted three times. Eight players caught at least one pass.
“The days of one guy getting 15 [targets] and then next guy getting four or five are kind of over,” Rodgers said. “We’re going to have to find ways to get different guys the football in different spots. There’s a lot of different plays for specific guys. We had a package for Christian (Watson), we had a package for Romeo (Doubs), obviously a lot of plays for Sammy (Watkins) and for Allen (Lazard), and then a couple wrinkles for Cobby. We had him in the backfield on a third down. That’s kind of the way it’s going to go. Obviously, we had a lot of plays for 33 [Jones] and 28 [Dillon].”
The Packers could get away with some missed opportunities against one of the worst teams in the NFL. At this stage in their careers, Rodgers vs. Justin Fields is a colossal mismatch. Chicago’s defense is nowhere near the vintage of the 2018 group that led the team to the NFC North title.
Next week, the Packers will visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rodgers vs. Tom Brady is not a mismatch. And Tampa Bay’s defense is No. 1 in points allowed per game (6.5), and in the top six in yards allowed per play, yards allowed per passing play, sack percentage, interception percentage and third downs.
“I’m just trying to temper expectations,” said Rodgers, whose 63 touchdown passes are three more than Brett Favre for most against the Bears. “Obviously, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of this one tonight but we’ve got a big one next week, a tough road trip, and it’s got to be better. This was better than Week 1 but we’ve got to be better than this if we want to compete with Tampa.”
Packers 27, Bears 10
Aaron Jones can’t be stopped (with Jones photo gallery)