Two elite athletes. Two memorable performances.
The Packers’ 31-23 victory Sunday over the Bears at Soldier Field served as a stage for two competitors at the top of their game. Their play was impressive enough to warrant further review.
Aaron Rodgers and Matt Forte often make the difficult look routine. Because of that, a little perspective is in order regarding their accomplishments in the season opener.
Compiling a passer rating of 100 in today’s NFL is a nonstory. There were 160 instances during the regular season last year (minimum 20 pass attempts).
Reaching 140 is less common. It happened 19 times in 2014 and never more than twice in any one week.
Rodgers completed 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns in Chicago. That equates to a passer rating of 140.5.
While that number is worthy of note, the real story is that Rodgers has bettered 140 in each of his last three games against the Bears. That may have tied an NFL record.
The Player Game Finder at pro-football-reference.com revealed that before Sunday, only one player since 1960 had had three in a row against one opponent: Rodgers vs. the Vikings during the 2010 and ’11 seasons.
In his latest outing, Rodgers did what he had done in his previous two: throw TD passes while avoiding interceptions. The veteran quarterback has thrown 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last three games against Chicago.
Rodgers had help. Running back Eddie Lacy one-handed a desperation flip in the first quarter. Early in the second half, Davante Adams reeled in a pass along the sideline that had Chicago tossing a challenge flag in disbelief.
And James Jones’ return after a year away was a success. The veteran wide receiver, who was cut by the Raiders after last season and by the Giants after training camp, hauled in four passes for 51 yards and two scores.
The number 100 — as in 100 yards rushing by an individual against the Packers — has been hit or exceeded more than 200 times since 1953.
Accumulating 100 yards on the ground in the first half, as Forte did against Green Bay, has happened 28 times in the last 63 years.
Attaining that milestone in the opening two quarters while gaining positive yards on each carry without a fumble — well, that’s almost as rare as a Curly Lambeau-George Halas handshake.
Call it an all-positive 100. Forte became just the eighth back since 1953 to register one in the first half at Green Bay’s expense. He was only the second Bears player to do so since Walter Payton in 1977.
Forte appeared to be running downhill during much of the opening two quarters. His numbers back this up.
The elusive veteran gained 5 or more yards on nine first-half carries. He picked up 8 or more yards five times.
Forte was held to a single yard three times. But two of those minimal gains were big: one a fourth-down conversion and the other a touchdown that gave the Bears a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
By halftime, Forte had 105 yards on 16 carries (6.6 average). He was responsible for six of the Bears’ eight first downs by rushing.
Forte failed to maintain his positive outlook in the second half. He was dropped for a yard loss by Mike Neal on his first carry of the third quarter.
In finishing with 141 yards on the ground, Forte surpassed 1,000 career rushing yards against Green Bay. He has 1,017 yards on 248 attempts (4.1) and five TDs in 14 regular-season games against the Packers.
» Chicago converted 11 of 17 third downs and 2 of 3 fourth downs. The 13 conversions tied the team record in the rivalry. The Bears (12-21; 1-2) also had 13 in a 6-3 win over Green Bay on Sept. 2, 1979.
» Green Bay scored in all four quarters Sunday. The Packers never have lost to the Bears (19-0) when posting points in each period.
Eric Goska is a Packers historian. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weighing in at 140
Since 1960, players with the most regular-season games in which they earned a passer rating of 140 or more (minimum 20 attempts).
No. ... Player ... Record
18 ... Peyton Manning ... 18-0
17 ... Tom Brady ... 17-0
15 ... Drew Brees ... 15-0
11 ... Aaron Rodgers ... 11-0
10 ... Tony Romo ... 8-2
9 ... Brett Favre ... 9-0
9 ... Kurt Warner ... 8-1
Players who gained 100 or more yards rushing in the first half against the Packers without a fumble, a carry for a loss or a carry for no gain.
Yds ... Player ... Date
163 ... Walter Payton ... Oct. 30, 1977
134 ... Johnny Olszewski ... Oct. 19, 1958
126 ... Dave Osborn ... Dec. 3, 1967
106 ... Tom Wilson ... Dec. 16, 1956
105 ... Matt Forte ... Sept. 13, 2015
103 ... Ted Brown ... Oct. 23, 1983
103 ... Steven Jackson ... Dec. 16, 2007
100 ... J.D. Smith ... Dec. 14, 1963