Rodgers posted a 114.5 passer rating against the Falcons, completing 26-of-35 passes for a season-high 344 yards and a touchdown. It was his second straight 300-yard contest, the first time this season he has done so in back-to-back games as he followed up his 301-yard outing last Sunday at Minnesota. But it was his performance running the ball that was equally impressive.
Rodgers finished the afternoon with a team-leading 51 yards on the ground and a touchdown on 12 carries, falling just a yard short of his career high, a 52-yard outing last season vs. Minnesota (Nov. 1, 2009). Green Bay's running backs managed just 26 yards on 11 carries (2.4 avg.).
“I thought Aaron Rodgers played huge today,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He had the one play he wishes he could have back (second-quarter fumble in end zone), but just the way he played with his feet, extended plays, handled their pressure, the no-huddle and the operation of the huddle, he did an outstanding job.
“You want to walk away with victories, No. 1, but that was probably one of his better individual performances.”
Rodgers was sacked just once all afternoon as defensive end John Abraham brought him down on the final possession of the game, but he did a good job of moving around in the pocket to avoid pressure. That helped him buy time on several of his completions, but the yardage he picked up also kept drives alive, highlighted by gains of 11, 10 and 9 yards.
“Everyone knows what Aaron can do,” guard Daryn Colledge said. “He’s a special talent. We knew he would have an opportunity to stretch out plays. We knew they weren’t going to load the box against us and we would have time if we kept blocking that he would be able to scramble out and probably get some yards. He would probably be able to move the pocket and make plays, and he did a great job of that.”
Rodgers leads all NFL quarterbacks with 561 rushing yards on 107 carries (5.2 avg.) since 2009, and also paces all signal-callers with nine rushing touchdowns over that span. Nearly a quarter of his runs (25-of-107) have been for 10-plus yards.
Rodgers also didn’t throw an interception for the fourth straight game, with his last one coming on the final play of the first half against Minnesota in Week 7. He has now thrown 147 straight passes without an interception, the third-longest current streak in the league behind Tom Brady (199) and Ryan (165), and the third-best streak in Rodgers’ career behind ones of 159 and 157 passes respectively.
Spreading it around
Rodgers had no shortage of targets on Sunday afternoon, completing at least three passes to five different players.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings led the way with 119 yards on five receptions, his second straight 100-yard game. It is the first time since Weeks 15-16 last season that Jennings eclipsed the 100-yard mark in back-to-back games.
Wideouts Jordy Nelson and James Jones also posted five-catch games. It was the first time three Packers wide receivers each recorded five receptions in the same game since Jennings (5), Jones (5) and Donald Driver (10) did so at Detroit on Nov. 22, 2007.
Nelson’s five catches matched his career high (at N.Y. Jets, Oct. 31, 2010), with his game-tying 10-yard touchdown his first score of the season and first since last season vs. San Francisco (Nov. 22, 2009).
The Packers lined up with five wide receivers several times on the afternoon and No. 5 wideout Brett Swain also got into the act, registering career highs in receptions (two) and receiving yards (40). He posted a career-long 31-yard gain on a second-quarter slant.
“It’s nice to have that (receiver formation) back in, especially with the five we’ve got,” Rodgers said. “I think Brett Swain did a really nice job for us. He had a couple of big plays. We spread it around pretty good. We just didn’t score enough points.”
With Jones posting 44 yards, the Packers had four wide receivers with 40-plus yards for the first time since Dec. 19, 2004, vs. Jacksonville when Driver, Antonio Chatman, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker all topped the 40-yard plateau.
The Packers entered Sunday’s game as one of the hottest teams in the league when it comes to taking the ball away, with 12 turnovers forced in the past 14 quarters of play.
For the first time this season, the defense came up empty in that category. The last time the Packers didn’t register a takeaway was at Pittsburgh last season (Dec. 20, 2009).
For Atlanta, the performance was in line with how the Falcons have been all season at home, where they improved to an NFC-best 6-0 with the win on Sunday. The Falcons came in with only five giveaways in their first five home games, and the game against the Packers was their fourth straight without a turnover, a new franchise record.
Cornerback Pat Lee re-injured his ankle blocking on a first-quarter punt return, and he did not return to the game.
Tight end Spencer Havner (hamstring) and linebacker Brandon Chillar (shoulder) sustained injuries on the same play, an Atlanta kickoff return in the second quarter, and neither returned. For Chillar, it was an aggravation of the same shoulder that forced him to miss three games earlier this season.
Running back Dimitri Nance sustained a concussion, and also did not return.