The best way to stop Rodgers is to not let him on the field?
Sounds good, in theory.
Thanks to the decision to defer after winning the opening coin flip and two pick-sixes by the defense, Rodgers got on the field just once in the first quarter and three times in the first half. The result? Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and the Packers led 28-17 at halftime.
The best way to stop Rodgers is to get after him with a four-man pass rush and use the seven defenders in coverage to take away his passing lanes?
The Chargers certainly got after Rodgers. The league's 26th-ranked pass defense sacked Rodgers four times. Rodgers was flushed from the pocket seven times, sometimes because of the pass rush and sometimes because of the coverage.
Still, it appears the Packers' offense is unstoppable over the long haul, with a franchise-record eighth consecutive game of at least 24 points. For all the things the Chargers did well, Rodgers completed 21-of-26 passes for 247 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating of 145.8 was the third-highest of his career, behind a near-perfect 155.4 at Cleveland in 2009 and a 146.5 at Minnesota two weeks ago.
With an eighth consecutive game with a passer rating of at least 110, Rodgers snapped a tie with Hall of Famer Steve Young for the longest streak in NFL history. With eight games of 110 ratings, Rodgers tied Brett Favre's single-season franchise record, set in 2007. He's topped that number in 16 of his last 19 starts.
"No, not necessarily, but I think I'd like to play flawless football," Rodgers, who has thrown 24 touchdown passes with just three interceptions, said when asked if he's playing flawlessly. "That's something we look at each week, ways we can improve. Things that we talk about — not turn the ball over, being good on third down, being good in the red zone, we did a nice job of that today. When we're not turning the ball over, we're going to have a good chance to win every week."
Taking care of the football has been a staple under coach Mike McCarthy, and it's the same story this season. The Packers entered the week with a fourth-ranked plus-11 in turnovers, including a third-best eight giveaways. On Sunday, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers matched Rodgers' four touchdowns and threw for 385 yards. But Rivers threw three interceptions. That's exactly as many as Rodgers has thrown this season.
"I just don't throw it to the other team," said Rodgers, who reduced his NFL-record career interception percentage to 1.87. "Don't like to, never have. I don't think I'm coming very close, either. That's because of the kind of guys that we have to throw to and also the preparation that we put in."
A day after Rodgers riddled the Vikings two weeks ago, McCarthy compared his quarterback's decision-making prowess to that of Joe Montana, whom McCarthy worked with in Kansas City.
"I think Aaron has a lot of strengths, obviously," the coach said. "But his decision-making is clearly at the highest level that I've personally been a part of — just his command of the offense, going away from the defense, if the defense tilts one way, he goes away from it. We have the firepower to give them options and he he's just been very disciplined with the ball placement. I think his decision making is top notch right now."
With the Chargers mostly rushing four, playing man-to-man and keeping safeties deep to take away the big play, Rodgers was held to a season-low 247 yards. But the Chargers' man-to-man philosophy meant their back seven played most of the game with their backs turned to the line of scrimmage. That allowed Rodgers to rush for 52 yards, matching his career-high set against Minnesota in 2009.
Rodgers hadn't run much this season, with just 75 yards through seven games after rushing for a career-high 356 last season. On Sunday, he ran for two first downs on the Packers' first touchdown drive and a 25-yarder on third-and-9 that allowed them to take a 28-17 lead just before halftime.
So, it seems, Rodgers has all the answers.
"That's not really something I like doing a whole lot. It's just kind of necessity at times," Rodgers said of moving the ball with his legs. "When you're out there and you're trying to make reaction plays and they're going to rush four and play a lot of man coverage, nobody's on me. I like to extend plays. I like to pass first when I'm outside the pocket but at times today I needed to run the ball and we made some big plays."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.