Catch and carry
Most completions by the Packers and their opponents in a regular-season game.
No. GB and opp Date
67 GB (31); Lions (36) Jan. 1, 2012
66 GB (31); Saints (35) Sept. 30, 2012
62 GB (34); Colts (28) Sept. 26, 2004
59 GB (27); Saints (32) Sept. 8, 2011
57 GB (24); Steelers (33) Dec. 24, 1995
57 GB (31); Saints (26) Sept. 17, 2006
This propensity for throwing the football by the Green Bay Packers and their opponents is no passing fancy.
Air space over NFL stadiums is usually restricted during games. But Lambeau Field was treated to a substantial number of takeoffs and landings during the Packers’ thrilling 28-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his counterpart from the deep south, Drew Brees, combined to complete the second-most passes in a game in Packers history. That the two found the bull’s eye so often is becoming more routine than unusual.
Rodgers connected on 31 of 41 passes, and Brees made good on 35 of 54. The 66 combined completions came up one short of the Packers record set last season by Matt Flynn (31) and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (36) in the regular-season windup at Lambeau Field.
Teaming up for 55 or more completions was unheard of during the first 60 years of the Packers’ professional existence. Lynn Dickey (18 completions) and Tommy Kramer (38) became the first to surpass that milestone during Green Bay’s 35-23 win on Nov. 29, 1981 at Metropolitan Stadium.
That barrier has been broken or tied now 10 times since Dickey and Kramer charted new territory. Six of those performances have come during the years Mike McCarthy has been coach. Three of those six have involved Brees and the Saints.
That Green Bay and New Orleans came out throwing was expected. In their first three games, the Saints dropped back to pass on 144 of 200 offensive plays (72.0 percent). Green Bay did so on 132 of 195 plays (67.7 percent).
The Saints and Packers both threw more often than they ran in every quarter. Green Bay came closest to striking a balance during the second period when running back Cedric Benson, fullback John Kuhn (on a gutsy fourth-down call from the Green Bay 17) and Rodgers combined for eight carries and Rodgers fired nine passes.
Rodgers and Brees were particularly accurate in the first half. Brees (20 of 24; 83.3 percent) opened with eight straight completions, and Rodgers (17 of 22; 77.3 percent) hit on nine of his last 10 attempts in the opening quarters.
Both quarterbacks moved the chains. Brees generated 23 first downs passing and Rodgers produced 21.
The combined 44 passing first downs are the second most in NFL history behind the 47 that Flynn and Stafford uncorked last season.
Rodgers spread the wealth to eight different receivers. Brees got 10 players involved.
Jordy Nelson was Green Bay’s most productive receiver with eight catches for 93 yards and six first downs. Marques Colston emerged as the biggest weapon for the Saints, finishing with nine catches for 153 yards and seven first downs.
Flying footballs have taken to new heights since McCarthy arrived in 2006. In McCarthy’s second game as coach, Brees (26 completions) and Brett Favre (31) traded shots in a contest won by New Orleans 34-27.
A year later, Favre (28) and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers (27) put up big numbers during Green Bay’s 31-24 victory. Two years later, Rodgers (26) and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (29) traded completions in the Steelers’ 37-36 triumph.
Then, in the 2011 opener, Rodgers (27) and Brees (32) took to the air. The two combined for 731 passing yards and six touchdowns as the Packers prevailed 42-34.
Sunday, the big arms unloaded again. Rodgers (319 yards passing) and Brees (446) totaled 765 passing yards together.
That Rodgers fired four touchdown passes to three for Brees is one reason the Packers’ season remains aloft while the Saints are dangerously close to coming in for a hard landing.