Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambles for yardage in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings during Sunday night's game at the Metrodome. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
The Elias Sports Bureau will tell you that Aaron Rodgersí career passer rating against the Minnesota Vikings is the highest by a quarterback against one opponent since 1970.
What the gatekeeper of NFL statistics doesnít say is that Rodgersí rating on third down has been even more impressive.
On Sunday night, Rodgers was his terrific best on third down, turning in a perfect rating of 158.3. The quarterback went 10-for-10 for 172 yards and two touchdowns as Green Bay disposed of Minnesota 44-31 at the Metrodome.
Those heady numbers donít include the three third downs Rodgers erased with his running. He also converted two fourth downs will well-placed throws.
Prior to Sunday, Rodgers had compiled a passer rating of 116.4 against the Vikings. According to Elias, itís the best in league history against a single opponent (minimum 250 attempts), ahead of Dan Foutsí mark of 112.6 against the Cleveland Browns.
As impressive as that is, his rating was even higher on third down. In his first 10 regular-season starts against the Vikings, Rodgers completed 66 of 93 third-down passes for 872 yards and eight touchdowns. Never was he intercepted, giving him a rating of 129.0.
He did nothing to tarnish his reputation as Green Bay notched its fourth consecutive victory. The 10 completions matched his career-best against the Vikings set in last seasonís finale. The 172 yards he earned was second only to the 179 he produced in a 30-23 loss at the Metrodome in 2009.
Green Bay converted the first six third downs it faced. Overall the team went 13-for-18, a success rate of 72 percent.
Rodgers utilized three receivers in gaining fresh sets of downs through the air on third down. Jordy Nelson caught four, Jarrett Boykin had three and tight end Andrew Quarless powered for one.
Rodgers also completed third-down passes to Myles White and running back Eddie Lacy, but those did not produce first downs.
By continually moving the chains, Green Bay dominated time of possession. The Packers held the ball for 40 minutes, 54 seconds and engineered four drives that lasted more than 6 minutes.
Itís hard to overstate Rodgersí importance to the Packers on third down when the men in purple are poised to pounce. It is one reason Green Bay scored more points (294) against its rival to the west than it did against the Lions (293) or the Bears (229) from 2008 through 2012.
Rodgersí value in these crucial situations can be summed up by looking at those drives in which he completed a third-down pass for a first down and those in which he didnít. The Packers are more likely to score when Rodgers moves the chains with his arm, even if itís only once on a possession.
In Green Bayís previous 10 regular-season games with the Vikings, Rodgers piloted 100 drives that didnít end because time ran out in the half. On 33 of those advances, he converted at least one third down with a pass completion and 15 times (45.5 percent) the team scored a TD. In the 67 instances in which no conversion occurred, the team reached the end zone 13 times (19.4 percent).
Rodgers began his high-ratings act against the Vikings in his first NFL start. He completed 18 of 22 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown (115.5 rating) in Green Bayís 24-19 win over Minnesota in the 2008 season opener.
That day he completed 6 of 7 third-down passes for 44 yards. Among them was a 1-yard TD throw to fullback Korey Hall.
But No. 12 outdid himself in his latest conquest of the Vikings. And he did it without Randall Cobb, James Jones or Jermichael Finley.
Rodgers improved his third-down passer rating against the Vikings to 138.2. It could very well be the best by any quarterback against one opponent (minimum 100 attempts) in the history of the game.
Taking flight on 3rd down
Aaron Rodgersí highest passer ratings on third down in regular-season games against the Vikings.
|158.3||Oct. 27, 2013||W, 38-17|
|155.8||Nov. 21, 2011||W, 31-3|
|152.1||Oct. 5, 2009||L, 30-23|
|140.2||Dec. 30, 2012||L, 37-34|
|132.4||Sept. 8, 2008||W, 24-19|
|125.8||Oct. 24, 2010||W, 28-24|