Rodgers right at home on road in postseason
Aaron Rodgers holds nearly every Packers record for playoff performance by a quarterback on the road.
Sunday in Atlanta, he can become the NFL standard bearer as well.
The Green Bay Packers’ quest to capture another Lombardi Trophy has taken them many miles from home. In Dallas, the team outdueled the Cowboys 34-31. In Atlanta, they’ll battle the Falcons for a berth in Super Bowl LI.
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Publicly, at least, the team has shown no signs of homesickness. Helping on that front is a quarterback who can unnerve even the most formidable of opponents with his remarkable play.
Different teams take different avenues in attempting to reach the ultimate game. Some lock up home-field advantage. Others take a more scenic route, making one or more stops at far-off locations.
Since 2009, the Packers have done their share of traveling. Nine of their 15 playoff games have been road affairs.
That number is high in part because Green Bay has appeared in more playoff games (15) than all but the New England Patriots (15) these past eight seasons. But New England has taken to the road just twice in that time, losing both.
Rodgers, of course, has been the man under center for the Packers in their last nine road outings. His stint in Dallas tied him with Brett Favre for the most by a quarterback in team history.
Favre won three and lost six. He completed 180 of 307 passes for 2,327 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Rodgers has won five and lost four. He has completed 212 of 331 attempts for 2,475 yards, 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
Bart Starr remains a distant third. He completed 49 of 83 attempts for 567 yards, 5 touchdowns and zero interceptions in going 2-1.
Now these are road games we’re talking about. They do not include Super Bowls, which have been played at neutral sites.
Rodgers, like many, embarked on his first playoff journey away from home. He passed for a franchise postseason record 423 yards in a 51-45 loss to Arizona in January 2010.
The following year, he tore through Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago. He compiled a passer rating of 109.2 as Green Bay secured a date with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl.
Rodgers earned his fourth road win a year ago in Washington. He threw for 210 yards and two scores as the Packers triumphed 35-18.
In Dallas, Rodgers again delivered. He got off to a fast start, he threw deep and he directed long drives.
In the first quarter, he completed eight of 11 passes for 126 yards. That yardage broke the team playoff record for a first quarter, a mark (107) set by Rodgers in Chicago in 2011.
Rodgers connected on his first three third-down throws for 55 yards. All three came on the team’s second possession, which Ty Montgomery capped with a 3-yard TD run for a 14-3 Green Bay lead.
Among those third-down heaves was a 32-yard deep out to Davante Adams. It was one of six passes that stretched for 20 or more yards.
Five receivers hauled in those big gainers. Tight end Jared Cook had two, while Adams, Randall Cobb, Richard Rodgers and Geronimo Allison all had one apiece.
Rodgers has a way of picking up yards in chunks. He has completed 38 passes of 20 or more yards in nine road games, a team record ahead of the 31 of Favre.
As any pass rusher knows, Rodgers doesn’t remain in one place for long. His penchant for movement helped fuel four drives of 75 or more yards.
Green Bay drove 75, 90 and 80 yards the first three times it had the ball. It traveled 75 yards on its opening possession of the second half.
All four advances ended in the end zone.
There have been 35 drives of 75 or more yards on the road in Packers playoff history. A total of 23 have come with Rodgers at the helm. He’s the only Green Bay quarterback to have directed four in one game and he has done that three times (Atlanta, San Francisco).
With his road exploits among the best in team annals, Rodgers now turns his focus on the league as a whole. Only two players have thrown for more yards on the road than the 2,475 he has.
The first is Favre with 2,637. In addition to his Packers total, Mr. Durability passed for 310 in New Orleans with the Vikings.
The second is Joe Flacco. The Ravens quarterback has passed for 2,478 yards in 12 playoff games on the road.
For Rodgers, all these statistics are nothing more than a byproduct of a work in progress. It’s victories he’s after.
He can get road win No. 6 by beating the Falcons in Atlanta. It’s a tall order, but this veteran road warrior is the right man for the job.
pro-football-reference.com and nflgsis.com served as references for this article.
Players who threw for more than 1,750 yards in road playoff games. Games at neutral sites are not included.
Yds. G Player Rate
2,637 10 Brett Favre 79.2
2,478 12 Joe Flacco 82.4
2,475 9 Aaron Rodgers 95.7
1,779 5 Drew Brees 88.5
1,767 7 Joe Montana 82.7
1,762 7 Tom Brady 75.9