Goska: Rare loss for proficient Rodgers
A first in Packers history Sunday in the Georgia Dome underscored the heights to which a team must sometimes soar in order to claim air supremacy in today’s NFL.
What may have been good enough in the past can get overshadowed nowadays.
Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan came out throwing Sunday when the Packers visited the Falcons in an important NFC game. Both quarterbacks posted top-flight passer ratings in Atlanta’s 33-32 victory.
Rodgers compiled a rating of 125.5. Ryan topped that at 129.5.
It was the first time a Packers passer and his counterpart both surpassed a 125 rating in the same game based on a minimum of 20 attempts each (that minimum will apply going forward).
Ryan completed 28 of 35 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers was successful on 28 of 38 throws for 246 yards and four scores. Neither was intercepted.
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In producing such numbers, Rodgers should file for additional compensation. The 12-year veteran was without receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery, running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks and tight end Jared Cook.
Historically, a passer rating of 125 or more by a Packers quarterback almost always signified victory. Before Sunday, 70 of the 73 that were recorded occurred in a game the Packers won.
Lynn Dickey was at the helm for the first two of those losses and Rodgers the third. Rodgers' 131.8 rating wasn't enough for the Packers to avert defeat in the 2012 finale when the Vikings’ Christian Ponder produced a career-best 120.2.
As three-digit passer ratings continue to trend upward, the likelihood that two quarterbacks will post one in the same game increases. As a result, more 100-rated passers will taste defeat.
Thirty years ago, 70 players earned passer ratings of 100 or better in regular-season play. There were only nine games in which a quarterback from both teams reached that level.
Last season, 165 players reached triple digits. Twenty-six games were two-fers.
One of those 26 last season had two passers exceed 125. Drew Brees (131.7) and the Saints got the better of Eli Manning (138.2) and the Giants in a 52-49 thriller in Week 8.
That affair was decided by a field goal as time expired. In games involving two highly rated quarterbacks, there’s often little separation between teams.
Certainly, that was the case in Atlanta. Rodgers and Ryan started strong, each experienced a lull in the third quarter, then both directed touchdown drives in the final 15 minutes.
Though Ryan had the better fourth quarter, Rodgers was ahead — on the scoreboard and in overall passer rating points — with just minutes remaining. No. 12’s failure to move the Packers into field-goal range with 31 seconds left cost him on both counts.
At halftime, the difference between the two was wafer thin. Rodgers had utilized seven receivers and had thrown three touchdown passes. Ryan had employed six and twice had struck for scores.
Rodgers launched a 58-yard bomb to Jordy Nelson that set up Green Bay’s first touchdown. Ryan lofted a 47-yarder to Taylor Gabriel that accounted for Atlanta’s second six-pointer.
Ryan’s rating at the break was 141.9 based on 15 completions in 19 attempts for 183 yards. Rodgers sat at 140.0, having connected on 17 of 21 for 170 yards.
After third-quarter ratings of 77.7 and 91.7, respectively, Rodgers and Ryan were ready for the final act. Rodgers completed 5 of 6 for 42 yards and a 7-yard strike to Jeff Janis to give Green Bay a 32-26 lead with 3:58 to go. Ryan hit on 9 of 11 for 75 yards and an 11-yard score to Mohamed Sanu for a 33-32 advantage.
As Rodgers awaited his last chance, his rating of 135.2 was nearly six points better than Ryan’s 129.5. But after Rodgers’ final four attempts brought just one completion — a 7-yard gain to Janis — the Green Bay quarterback had to take a back seat to Ryan.
The loss was the 41st Packers game to involve quarterbacks on each side with a passer rating of 100 or better. The first occurred in 1951, and Green Bay’s record is 23-18 in those games.
Not surprisingly, Brett Favre and Rodgers participated in the majority of them. Favre went 9-6 while Rodgers is 7-9.
Rodgers’ most frequent opponent for such games has been Ryan. Sunday was their third double-100 encounter and Ryan now has twice had the last word.
Cecil Isbell produced the first 125 passer rating in Packers' history. On Oct. 26, 1941, he completed 13 of 21 passes and threw three TD passes in taming the Lions 24-7 at Briggs Stadium.
The first Packers game to feature two 100-rated passers occurred Oct. 28, 1951. Bobby Thomason’s 120.1 rating trumped Bob Celeri’s 100.7 as Thomason directed a six-play, 44-yard drive to set up Fred Cone’s 16-yard field goal that toppled the New York Yanks 29-27.
pro-football-reference.com served as a reference for this article.
The six regular-season games in which a quarterback for the Packers and their opponent each had a passer rating of 120 or above.
Date Packers QB (Rate) Opponent QB (Rate) Result
Oct. 30, 2016 A. Rodgers (125.5) Matt Ryan (129.5) Falcons 33, GB 32
Dec. 30, 2012 A. Rodgers (131.8) Christian Ponder (120.2) Vikings 37, GB 34
Oct. 23, 2005 B. Favre (121.6) Daunte Culpepper (123.1) Vikings 23, GB 20
Oct. 24, 2004 B. Favre (123.3) Peyton Manning (140.9) Colts 45, GB 31
Nov. 16, 1997 B. Favre (120.4) Paul Justin (125.0) Colts 41, GB 38
Nov. 19, 1995 B. Favre (133.6) Vinny Testaverde (120.3) GB 31, Browns 20