Recapping first and last milestones from Aaron Rodgers' legendary career in Green Bay
GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers waited three seasons to get his turn as the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback in 2008. He had a small body of work in the NFL, not unlike Jordan Love does now, but his snaps gained new significance once he scaled atop the depth chart.
Overnight, Rodgers found himself in the scrutiny of being an NFL starting quarterback. It’s a job he wouldn’t relinquish for 15 seasons. Rodgers’ time atop the Packers depth chart finally ended this week when the Packers traded him to the New York Jets.
In between, Rodgers authored a Hall of Fame-caliber career. He won four MVPs and another Super Bowl MVP in 2010. Over 223 career starts, he completed 4,966 of his 7,601 passes (65.3%) for 58,726 yards, 474 touchdowns, 104 interceptions and a 103.8 passer rating as a starter. He has the two highest single-season passer ratings in NFL history: 122.5 in his first MVP year of 2011, and 121.5 in his third MVP year of 2021. His 4.52 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best in NFL history.
“I’m debatably the best player in franchise history,” Rodgers recently said on the Pat McAfee Show. “What’s not debatable is I’m the longest-tenured Packer in history. You can debate the first part, obviously, Bart (Starr), Brett (Favre), a number of names have been incredible. You can’t debate anybody’s been in longer than I have.”
As an undeniable historic tenure with one of the NFL’s most historic franchises concludes, it’s a proper time to take inventory of Rodgers’ career. Here’s a look at Rodgers’ first and last milestones in his time as the Packers’ starting quarterback.
First throw: Sept. 8, 2008 vs. Vikings
The Packers wasted no time breaking in Rodgers’ throwing arm. On the first snap of his first start, Rodgers dropped back from the 28-yard line and completed a 3-yard pass in the left seam to tight end Donald Lee. The tight end tried to keep his feet but couldn’t after contact from Vikings safety Darren Sharper, holding Lee to a short gain. Rodgers’ opening drive as starter ended six plays and one offensive holding penalty later with a 49-yard punt.
Last throw: Jan. 8, 2023 vs. Lions
On third-and-10 with the Packers season on the line, Rodgers dropped back from the 33-yard line and uncorked a prayer deep down the right sideline in double coverage to rookie receiver Christian Watson. Lions safety Kerby Joseph drifted to the sideline for an interception, sealing Rodgers’ career with the Packers the same way Brett Favre’s career in green and gold ended. Rodgers’ first interception as a starter didn’t come until Week 3 of the 2008 season, when he tossed three picks in a loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Linebacker Derrick Brooks was the recipient of Rodgers’ first interception.
First touchdown pass: Sept. 8, 2008 vs. Vikings
It didn’t take long for Rodgers to show his uncanny knack for extending plays. From the 1-yard line in Rodgers' first career start, running back Ryan Grant missed a block in pass protection against Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Rodgers shuffled a couple of steps to his left to avoid the rush and found fullback Korey Hall in the end zone, placing it in a perfect spot away from linebacker Ben Leber’s tight coverage. It wasn’t only Rodgers’ improvisational skills that reminded Packers fans of Favre. The young quarterback extended both hands in the air to celebrate, showing a youthful exuberance that had become well known from his predecessor.
Last touchdown pass: Jan. 8, 2023 vs. Lions
Down 4 points late in the third quarter of last season’s finale, Rodgers dropped back on second-and-8 inside the red zone. After a play-action fake to running back AJ Dillon, he found Allen Lazard in the left corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. It’s fitting Lazard was on the receiving end of Rodgers’ last touchdown pass in a Packers uniform. The duo will have a chance to connect more after the Jets signed Lazard as a free agent this spring.
First touchdown run: Sept. 8, 2008 vs. Vikings
Rodgers didn’t sneak behind center much in his career, but it’s how he got his first career rushing touchdown. With the Packers holding a 5-point lead midway through the fourth quarter of his first career start against the Vikings, Rodgers split left guard Daryn Colledge and left tackle Chad Clifton for the 1-yard score. Rodgers spiked the football in the end zone and executed his first career Lambeau Leap, something the quarterback later said he’d dreamt of for four years.
Last touchdown run: Jan. 1, 2023 vs. Vikings
Even as his mobility dipped in recent seasons, Rodgers remained crafty enough to make defenders look silly when running with the football. His last touchdown run in a Packers uniform came in the second to final game last season, and it was courtesy of a trusty pump fake, something Rodgers continued to use affectively late in his career. Scrambling to his right, Rodgers feigned a pass as Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah closed on him. When Asamoah’s feet left the ground, Rodgers had a clear path for a 2-yard touchdown run. The third-and-goal score gave the Packers a 41-3 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Rodgers eschewed the Lambeau Leap for his trademark title-belt celebration in the end zone.
First win: Sept. 8, 2008 vs. Vikings
On Monday Night Football, Rodgers ended Brett Favre’s iron-man streak of starting for the Packers that began in Week 4 of the 1992 season with a 24-19 win against the rival Vikings. Rodgers wasn’t dominant but played clean, completing 18-of-22 passes for 178 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 115.5 passer rating. That efficiency became a hallmark of his career.
Last win: Jan. 1, 2023 vs. Vikings
For a moment, it looked like the Packers might run the table 2.0 last season. The comparisons to 2016, when the Packers ran the table from a 4-6 record to the NFC championship game, were palpable after beating the Vikings 41-17 inside Lambeau Field. Rodgers was less electric than effective, completing 15-of-24 passes for 159 yards, one touchdown and a 95.7 passer rating. It was a kickoff returned for touchdown from Keisean Nixon and interception returned for touchdown from Darnell Savage that helped build a 41-3 lead, though Rodgers’ 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the final stamp on the Packers’ scoring. It looked a little like destiny at the time. It became Rodgers’ final win with the Packers instead.
First playoff game: Jan. 10, 2010 vs. Cardinals
It might not have ended with a Packers win, but their 51-45 overtime loss at the Arizona Cardinals became unforgettable. Rodgers, in his second season as a starter, went blow for blow with Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner in an epic shootout in the desert. The Cardinals took a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, but Rodgers fired back. In his first playoff start, he completed 28-of-42 passes for 423 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and a 121.4 passer rating. The veteran Warner was a little better, completing 29-of-33 passes for 379 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 154.1 rating. Rodgers’ first pass was an interception intended for Jordy Nelson. His final drop back was a sack fumble Cardinals defensive end Karlos Dansby returned for a game-winning touchdown in overtime. In between, Rodgers authored enough highlights in the first four-touchdown game of his career to help serve as a springboard to the Packers run to a Super Bowl XLV championship one year later.
Last playoff game: Jan. 22, 2022 vs. 49ers
The Packers were heavy favorites as the NFC’s top overall seed when they hosted the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional playoff round at Lambeau Field. A year after losing an NFC championship game at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the road to the Super Bowl once again went through Green Bay. It looked like the Packers were poised to take advantage of home field after Rodgers orchestrated an opening-drive touchdown, but it was the last time the Packers would find the end zone that night. In a game their defense dominated, the Packers would muster only one field goal the rest of the way in a 13-10 loss. Rodgers, who was sacked five times, completed 20-of-29 passes for 225 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 91.9 passer rating. His final playoff pass was incomplete deep down the middle of the field in double coverage to Davante Adams on third-and-11.
First game against Bears: Nov. 16, 2008
Brett Favre owned the Chicago Bears, terrorizing the Monsters of the Midway in his time with the Packers. In his first start against the Packers bitter rivals, Rodgers showed his time behind center would be no different. Rodgers completed 23-of-30 passes for 227 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 105.8 passer rating in a 37-3 win, helping continue momentum that eventually led to the Packers taking the all-time lead in the NFL’s most storied rivalry.
Last game against Bears: Dec. 4, 2022
The Packers sparked a late-season, four-game winning streak with a 28-19 victory at the Bears last December. After trailing 19-10 entering the fourth quarter, the Packers outscored the Bears 18-0 in the final period. Rodgers’ numbers were modest, completing 18-of-31 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 85.7 passer rating, but he found tight end Marcedes Lewis open in the end zone for a 2-point conversion inside the 2-minute warning. Rodgers lingered in the corner of Soldier Field’s end zone after his final pass against the Bears in a Packers uniform, saluting the road fans before trotting back to the sideline. It was a fitting sendoff from the quarterback who threw the most touchdown passes against the Bears in their long history.
First 5-touchdown game: Dec. 25, 2011 vs. Bears
Rodgers threw for five touchdowns in a game five times. The first came against the Bears in his final regular-season game of 2011, a season that catapulted Rodgers to the pantheon of NFL quarterbacks. Rodgers completed 21-of-29 passes for 283 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 142.7 passer rating, customarily torching the Bears secondary. He threw two touchdowns apiece to Jordy Nelson and James Jones, including a 55-yard bomb to Nelson in the third quarter. His first touchdown of the day was completed to tight end Jermichael Finley. It wouldn’t be the only time Rodgers threw at least five touchdowns against the Bears, or his most. He threw six touchdown passes in the first half against the Bears in 2014, one of the finest performances of his career. The Bears were a fitting first.
Last 5-touchdown game: Oct. 20, 2019 vs. Raiders
Rodgers might’ve believed the Packers viewed him more as a game manager in Matt LaFleur’s first season – that probably didn’t make him feel any better when the team drafted Jordan Love the following spring – but he was still capable of putting up big numbers. The final five-touchdown game of his career came in October of that 2019 season when Rodgers erupted to complete 25-of-31 passes for 429 yards, five scores, no interceptions and a 129 passer rating. Rodgers’ five touchdowns were thrown to five different receivers: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Jimmy Graham and Jake Kumerow. The longest went for 74 yards to MVS, who ran roughly the final 70 after catching a short pass in the left flat.
First 400-yard passing game: Dec. 26, 2010 vs. Giants
Technically, the first 400-yard passing game of Rodgers’ career came in his first playoff game, the NFC wild card playoff loss to the Cardinals. His first 400-yard game in the regular season didn’t come until a year later. A day after Christmas in the 2010 season, Rodgers completed 25-of-37 passes for 404 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 139.9 passer rating in a 45-17 home win against the New York Giants. Greg Jennings was his leading receiver, catching seven passes for 142 yards. Jordy Nelson added four catches for 124 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Last 400-yard game: Oct. 20, 2019 vs. Raiders
Rodgers’ last time throwing more than 400 yards came in the last game he also threw five touchdowns. Eight receivers caught a pass from Rodgers against the Raiders in a 42-24 win, led by Marquez Valdes-Scantling with a pair of catches for 133 yards. Jimmy Graham (65 yards), Aaron Jones (33 yards), Geronimo Allison (33 yards) and Jamaal Williams (26 yards) led the offense with four receptions apiece. Rodgers went through all of 2022 without a 300-yard game. His last time over 300 yards came late in the 2021 season against the Bears.