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Cold temperatures didn't hurt passing game for Green Bay Packers or New York Giants

Dec. 26, 2010
 
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and receiver Jordy Nelson give each other a thumbs up after the Packers scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter during Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. Photo by Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and receiver Jordy Nelson give each other a thumbs up after the Packers scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter during Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. Photo by Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

Unseasonably Warm

December or January regular-season games at Lambeau Field in which both teams combined for more than 600 net yards passing.

Yds. Date GB (Yds.); Opp. (Yds.)
692 Dec. 26, 2010 GB (396); Giants (296)
687 Dec. 7, 2008 GB (279); Texans (408)
683 Dec. 2, 2000 GB (299); Cardinals (384)
651 Dec. 12, 1999 GB (283); Panthers (368)
609 Dec. 24, 1995 GB (295); Steelers (314)
602 Dec. 4, 1983 GB (328); Bears (274)
601 Dec. 21, 1969 GB (422); Cardinals (179)

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Sunday’s game-time temperature of 25 degrees was in line with what’s normal this time of year in Green Bay.

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Sunday’s passing display of 692 yards was well out of the range of customary for a December day in the NFL’s smallest city.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and his counterpart Eli Manning of the Giants brought some heat to a game between two teams facing the possibility of being left out in the cold come playoff time. That winter had arrived just days earlier didn’t prevent these two from generating the most net passing yards in a December or January regular-season game at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers completed 25 of 37 passes for 404 yards in Green Bay’s 45-17 triumph over New York. Manning was good on 17 of 33 throws for 301 yards.

Combined that’s 705 gross passing yards. Subtract the 13 yards lost on three sacks, and the resulting 692 net yards is more than the previous record of 687 set on Dec. 7, 2008 when the Texans last visited.

Old schoolers who insist on a run-first approach—especially outdoors in the cold—must have shivered at the sight of so many balls taking flight. Both Green Bay (39 pass plays; 35 runs) and New York (34; 21) threw more often than they ran.

The imbalance, though not great, was established in the first half. Rodgers fired 23 passes against 18 runs, and Manning dropped back 15 times as opposed to handing off 9 times.

Footballs were still flying in the fourth quarter. Manning, with 14 throws, was playing catch-up. Rodgers, with five attempts, was protecting a 14-point lead that doubled before the game ended.

Both quarterbacks hit on big plays to get their production rolling. Rodgers found Jordy Nelson on an 80-yard pitch in the first quarter. Manning clicked on an 85-yard hookup with receiver Mario Manningham in the second quarter.

Only the Bears’ Jim McMahon with an 87-yard toss to Willie Gault in 1983 had a longer completion in a regular-season game in December or January at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers and Manning had more than one long strike. Rodgers had a regular-season best seven completions of 20 yards or more and Manning had four.

Those deep connections were one reason Green Bay averaged 10.2 yards per pass play and New York checked in with an average gain of 8.7 yards.

Rodgers and Manning became just the fourth duo to each throw for more than 300 yards in a December or January regular-season game at Lambeau Field. Brett Favre (311 yards) and the Cardinals Jake Plummer (396) had been the last to do so in the 1999 season finale.

The most glaring difference between the quarterbacks Sunday was turnovers. Rodgers didn’t come close to being intercepted; Manning was picked off four times.

For Rodgers, his game against the Giants was just another excellent late season showing. The three-year starter is 5-1 at home in December and January where he’s compiled a passer rating of 116.9.

Extra point

The Packers held the Giants to their worst showing of the season in terms of time of possession. New York held the ball for just 22 minutes, 59 seconds, more than a minute less than the its previous low of 24:33 in a 24-20 win over Jacksonville on Nov. 28.

Green Bay’s offense had the ball for 37:01. The Packers are 12-0 at Lambeau Field in December and January regular-season games when earning a time of possession of 35 minutes or more.

Unseasonably Warm

December or January regular-season games at Lambeau Field in which both teams combined for more than 600 net yards passing.

Yds. Date GB (Yds.); Opp. (Yds.)
692 Dec. 26, 2010 GB (396); Giants (296)
687 Dec. 7, 2008 GB (279); Texans (408)
683 Dec. 2, 2000 GB (299); Cardinals (384)
651 Dec. 12, 1999 GB (283); Panthers (368)
609 Dec. 24, 1995 GB (295); Steelers (314)
602 Dec. 4, 1983 GB (328); Bears (274)
601 Dec. 21, 1969 GB (422); Cardinals (179)

Eric Goska is a Green Bay Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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