Our beloved Aaron Rodgers is coming off one of the gutsiest feats of his career to date. Coming back against the Chicago Bears after a terrible first half that included seeing him leave with a knee injury only to come back and lead the Packers to a late victory is the stuff legends are made of. (To be fair, it’s icing on the cake though, he achieved legend status long ago.) We’ll explore the Bears game in a little more detail to come. But on the heels of the Bears game, now feels like a good time to pay tribute to what brought us here. These are Aaron Rodgers’ best performances thus far.
Appearance on Celebrity Jeopardy!
How many professional athletes, much less Hall of Fame quarterbacks, could go on arguably the toughest quiz show to ever exist and not merely avoid making a fool of themselves but actually win? He’s no meathead, folks.
The “R-E-L-A-X” Interview
This will forever be linked to the all-time great. From now until the end of time, when somebody plays the name association game and says “Aaron Rodgers,” the only two choices are to reply “All-time great quarterback” and/or “relax.”
Appearance on Shark Week
Let’s be honest, we all knew nothing would really happen to him, they showed it on TV after all. But seeing the $100 million man within feet of a shark was captivating television. We might not have been on game-winning-drive-level edge, but there was definitely some space between our backs and the couch or chair we were sitting on. It might as well have been a family member next to that shark. If anything like this takes place again, I’ll volunteer as tribute.
The Hail Marys in 2015-16 at Detroit Lions and at Arizona Cardinals in the Playoffs
We couldn’t not mention these. Unfortunately, though, this is a single game performance list and neither of these individual games made this list.
10/25/2009 at Cleveland Browns
The Packers won this game 31-3 and Rodgers wasn’t asked to do a whole lot. He only attempted a modest 20 passes and completed 15 of them. Those completions were good for 246 yards and three touchdowns against no interceptions. What makes this game worthy of this placement is that Rodgers ended with a 155.4 QB Rating (a 158.3 rating is considered a perfect score, for what it’s worth). This game is still Rodgers’ best single-game QB Rating as well as his high-water mark for yards per pass attempt at 12.3 yards.
1/10/2010 at Arizona Cardinals in NFC Wildcard Game
The only reason this game gets downgraded to Honorable Mention is that the ending tainted it all. The Packers lost this ridiculous game 51-45 in overtime. But it wasn’t just that Green Bay lost. The last play was a flukey play that saw Rodgers try and get rid of the ball while being wrapped up by a defender, and while being tackled, the ball bounced off Rodgers’ foot and into the hands of a Cardinals player who took it in for a game winner. Still, Aaron was nothing short of brilliant this game. His final stat line was 28-42 for 423 yards and four scores. Neither offense deserved to lose this game. And if the Packers defense could’ve done anything they would’ve pulled this one out.
9/12/18 vs. Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football
Rodgers’ Week 1 game comes in on the Honorable Mention list (though if one were to put it in their own top-5, you wouldn’t hear any arguments on this end). However, beyond it being really, really tough to crack the best handful of Rodgers games, here’s why we can’t put it there (yet).
First, even though this is a single game list, some context around the Week 1 Sunday night game could help its legend status grow. If the Packers go on to hoist the Lombardi Trophy to cap off this season, this game might get held up as the catapult that got them there. On the flip side, if Green Bay wins the Super Bowl, there’s probably more elite Rodgers performances to come, meaning this game still might get held out of the top handful.
Secondly, and more importantly, as you’ll see coming up, Rodgers has had games that made the Packers nearly unbeatable. It has to be remembered how bad Rodgers & Co. looked early in the Bears game. Regardless of the unbelievable outcome, one great half makes this a tough game to gauge in regards to the best of the rest of his games.
Even though this gets held out of the handful of best performances, it would rank much higher on a “most memorable” list.
The Top 5
(Tie) Games Against the Dallas Cowboys in the Playoffs
Both of these games deserve to be in the top-5, but it’s hard to choose one or the other. Instead of placing them both on the list, we’re combining them into sort of a subcategory of their own. Because ripping the heart out of Dallas fans seems like it should be its own category, right?
1/15/2017 aka “The Jared Cook Catch Game”
We could go over the stats, but let’s just savor the memory of one the single greatest throws in the history of the game of football. It’s only made better by the backstory: Rodgers drew the play up in the huddle and more or less told Cook to “run over there and I’ll get it to you.” The epitome of historically great athletes is when everyone knows what a team or player has to do, does everything in their power to stop it, but still can’t. That’s what happened here to Dallas.
1/11/2015 Divisional Round
The Packers won this eeked this game out 26-21 and saw Rodgers hit a 125.4 QB Rating (second-highest of Rodgers’ postseason career to a game we’ll explore a little later). That wasn’t even the highest QB Rating in this game, as Tony Romo put up a crazy 143.6 number. But even Romo at his best couldn’t top a less-than-best Rodgers. The Green Bay QB went 24-35 for 316 yards and three TDs with no picks (though he fumbled twice, losing one). The Packers scored first in this one but didn’t have the lead again until about 9:00 left in the game when Rodgers hit Richard Rodgers for what proved to be the game-winning score.
9/28/2014 at Chicago Bears
This game was surrounded by a lot of hoopla as the Bears had fairly high expectations. They entered this game 2-1 with the lone loss being an overtime loss to the Bills in the opener. Even though this game was pretty early in the year, it sent Chicago into a tailspin. The final score was 38-10, Rodgers went 22-28 for 308 yards with four touchdowns. The Bears ended up managing only three more wins after this one that season.
12/11/2016 vs. Seattle Seahawks
This game happened at the height of the Packers/Seahawks rivalry and had major ramifications for NFC supremacy. It was expected to be a close game since Green Bay entered 6-6 and Seattle 8-3-1. It wasn’t. Aaron only(?) attempted 23 passes but completed 18 of them for 246 yards and three TDs.
2/6/2011 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV
The very best players show up at the most important times. Rodgers did just that. Already, Packer fans remember fondly how our quarterback perfectly fit pass after pass around defenders and into the hands to his receivers. Who can forget the pass to Greg Jennings over the middle where the throw just barely makes it past the outstretched fingers of the Steelers defender? If that pass was off by a quarter of an inch one way, it gets knocked down. Or how about the play to Jennings in the back corner where Troy Polamalu tried reading Rodgers’ eyes but got completely outsmarted? Or when Jordy Nelson dropped a wide-open pass only to have Rodgers maintain confidence in him and go right back to him on the very next play for a big gain? Peak Aaron Rodgers.
1/15/2011 at Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game
Sure, this wasn’t the Super Bowl. And to be fair, this writer really doesn’t have a great memory of this game … probably because it gets overshadowed by the euphoria of winning the Super Bowl a couple weeks later. But let’s go over Rodgers’ stats for this game: He completed a jaw-dropping 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks. Oh, and he also ran twice for 13 yards and another touchdown.
We’ve mentioned QB Rating a bunch in this post, and to be fair it is an imperfect and super-confusing stat (does anybody really know how it’s calculated?) but this game saw Rodgers end with an outstanding 136.8 mark. Green Bay beat up Atlanta in the process to the tune of 48-21. There’s always a lot made of how playing in domes – especially late in the year when it’s the dead of winter in a lot of NFL cities like Green Bay – but a completion percentage of 86% on the road in the playoffs just seems unfair.
For the Packers that day, Aaron Rodgers was a real-life cheat code.
By no means is this meant to be an objective list. To each their own. There are countless games that made this an exercise in splitting hairs. It is, however, meant to remind you Packer fans how good we have it.