Aaron Rodgers is pretty good. Last week, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a passer rating in each of his first two playoff starts exceed 120. He did it for a third consecutive time against the Falcons on Saturday night, leading the Packers to a spot in the NFC Championship Game.
But where does his performance stack up in playoff history? Well, let’s narrow that down a bit. How about where does Rodgers’ outing (non-Super Bowl) rank among some of the best quarterback performances in the playoffs since 2000? Is there enough qualifiers there?
Let’s count it down. Surprisingly, former Browns QB Kelly Holcomb (vs. the Steelers in 2002) and ex-Giants QB Kerry Collins were both in consideration, but both fell just short.
Note: The years are done according to NFL season, not calendar year.
6. Chad Pennington vs. Colts, 2002 AFC Wild Card Game: Pennington is one of the most maligned quarterbacks in recent memory. But he will be able to tell his grandchildren that he once out-dueled Peyton Manning, going 19-for-25 with 222 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-0 win over the Colts.
5. Peyton Manning vs. Broncos, 2003 AFC Wild Card Game: Manning finally found his stride, going 22-for-26 for 377 yards and five touchdowns in the Colts’ 41-10 triumph. If you ever need a quarterback to beat an overmatched AFC West team in the playoffs, Manning has proven to be your man. The rest of the time in the playoffs, he’s about as consistent as Collins.
4. Kurt Warner vs. Eagles, 2008 NFC Championship Game: Warner led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance by completing 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns. The Cardinals hung on to beat the Eagles, 32-25, on Warner’s 8-yard touchdown pass to RB Tim Hightower. If you ever want to judge Warner’s impact, look at what happened to St. Louis and Arizona after he left.
3. Tom Brady vs. Jaguars, 2007 AFC Divisional Playoff Game: The Patriots were perfect during the regular season, and Brady was nearly perfect in knocking off the Jaguars. He went 26-of-28 for 262 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots’ 31-20 win.
2. Rodgers vs. Falcons, 2010 NFC Divisional Playoff Game: Rodgers has put the notion to rest that he is merely a fantasy enthusiast’s dream. The Packers have scored 114 points in Rodgers’ three playoff games. On Saturday night, he finished 31-of-36 for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He even ran for a touchdown, too.
1. Warner vs. Packers, 2009 NFC Wild Card Game: If there was ever a game where you thought a team was going to score every time it touched the ball, this was it. Warner competed 29 of 33 passes for 379 yards and five touchdowns. That’s right, more touchdowns than incompletions. And if the Cardinals’ defense had not won the game with a fumble return for a touchdown, Warner likely would have padded his stats. Warner’s 154.1 passer rating was the second-highest in playoff history.