The 100 gap
Attempt on which a quarterback’s total of regular-season touchdown passes thrown exceeded by 100 the number of interceptions he’d thrown.
Att. Quarterback Year Age
2,283 Aaron Rodgers 2012 28
3,374 Tom Brady 2007 30
3,446 Steve Young 1997 36
3,862 Joe Montana 1989 33
3,976 Dan Marino 1990 29
3,994 Peyton Manning 2005 29
4,054 Donovan McNabb 2008 31
4,558 Drew Brees 2010 31
4,885 Brett Favre 2000 31
The club is more exclusive than the fraternity of brothers who have walked on the moon.
Another joined the group on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The newcomer did so far faster and at an earlier age than those before him.
Aaron Rodgers launched three touchdown passes and was intercepted once in the Green Bay Packers' 30-27 loss to the Colts. As he has so often done since becoming a starter in 2008, the quarterback threw more touchdown passes than interceptions.
In 67 regular-season starts, Rodgers has thrown 142 touchdown passes. He’s been picked off 42 times.
The difference between those totals is 100. The magnitude of that difference is what sets Rodgers and those like him apart.
Attaining a gap of 100 between touchdown passes thrown and interceptions given up (the 100 gap) has been accomplished by just nine quarterbacks in NFL history. Twelve men left footprints on the moon.
The names of those who’ve achieved the 100 gap read like a who’s who of all-time greats: Joe Montana (in 1989), Dan Marino (1990), Steve Young (1997), Brett Favre (2000), Peyton Manning (2005), Tom Brady (2007), Donovan McNabb (2008), Drew Brees (2010) and now Rodgers. Montana, Marino and Young are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The eight who arrived before Rodgers all needed well over 3,000 pass attempts to reach the 100 gap. Brady, who had been the quickest to do so, fired his 182nd scoring pass (against 82 interceptions), on his 3,374th regular-season pass attempt.
Rodgers didn’t wait nearly so long. Against the Colts, he hit James Jones with a 6-yard TD pass early in the second quarter. Later in the period, he fired a laser to Randall Cobb who scored from 31 yards out to give Green Bay a 21-3 lead that stood at halftime.
The throw to Cobb was Rodgers’ 141st TD pass against 41 interceptions. It was the 2,283rd regular-season pass attempt of his career.
How amazing is that? Well, on his 2,283rd attempt, Brady had thrown 107 TD passes against 56 interceptions, a difference of 51. The quarterback many consider the best in the game was barely halfway to his plus-100.
Of course, Rodgers and the Packers didn’t make anything easy in the second half. The team blew an 18-point lead and Rodgers’ differential dropped below 100.
Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers intercepted Rodgers’ second throw of the third quarter at the Packers’ 39-yard line. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck found tight end Dwayne Allen in the end zone five plays later, and Green Bay’s lead was cut to 21-10.
During the next 18 minutes of game time, Rodgers was sacked five times, Tim Masthay punted four times, Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal attempt and Adam Vinatieri nailed a 28-yarder to give the Colts their first lead, 22-21.
Entering the game with 4:44 to play, Rodgers handed off to Alex Green who ripped off a 41-yard run to the Colts’ 8. Rodgers then hit Jones in the end zone to get back to plus-100.
Rodgers is not the first Packers quarterback to backslide. Favre first got to plus-100 with a three-TD performance in a 33-28 win over the Vikings on Dec. 17, 2000, but then threw two interceptions in the finale against Tampa Bay. He spent the offseason at plus-98 before getting back and staying on top of it early in 2001.
To secure the 100 gap as quickly as Rodgers, a quarterback must consistently throw more TD passes than interceptions. Rodgers is a master, having thrown more TDs than picks in 49 of his 67 regular-season starts.
He’s thrown more interceptions than TDs just four times.
Last year, Rodgers became the first player in team history to have 15 games in which he threw more TD passes than interceptions. In doing so, he broke the previous team record of 14 he set in 2009.
What’s next for Rodgers? Short term, he needs to help fix what ails the Packers. Long term, he can go after Manning’s NFL record of having thrown 209 more TD passes (410) than interceptions (201).
Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.