GREEN BAY – A wave of emotions washed over Aaron Rodgers as the Packers' 17th-year quarterback watched Allen Lazard lunge toward the pylon in the first quarter of Sunday's matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
First, Rodgers wanted to make sure his third-year receiver had indeed scored. But as soon as center Lucas Patrick and the rest of Green Bay's offensive line began to maul Rodgers in celebratory fashion, the weight of the moment began to hit the future Pro Football Hall of Famer.
The first of three touchdowns Rodgers threw in Sunday's 24-22 win over the Browns marked No. 443 in a career destined for Canton, Ohio, moving him past former teammate and fellow three-time NFL MVP Brett Favre in team annals.
Afterward, a special video package played inside the Lambeau Field bowl that included a congratulatory message from Favre and a highlight reel of some of the biggest touchdown passes of Rodgers' career. Fittingly, the 11-yard touchdown to Lazard was built off a simple stick-route concept Rodgers learned in his first year with the Packers, a staple of the West Coast offense Rodgers has mastered.
"It was really special," Rodgers said. "And the (video) tribute afterwards, man, that was really cool. To see from the first touchdown to Greg (Jennings), on down the line, some of the memorable ones over the years and then to get a message from Favre, definitely got me a little teary-eyed on the bench.
"It's a moment I'll never forget, for sure, and I'm thankful for Favre's message, the response from the guys and the crowd was obviously very special."
It's been a season filled with countless records and accolades for Rodgers, who's the only player in team history to both make 10 Pro Bowl teams and play 17 seasons for the organization.
Through it all, Rodgers has aimed to stay "100% present" of what each and every one of those milestones means – like last week's 31-30 win over Baltimore that clinched the NFC North division title for the third year in a row.
Rodgers' teammates have followed suit, especially as it relates to the celebrated TD record. Lazard referred to it as the "elephant in the room" with the receivers this week, with everyone understanding what that mark represented.
Once he got the ball in his hand, Lazard let his instincts take over. It wasn't until stumbling back to his feet after laying out for the touchdown that it hit the third-year receiver.
"My reaction was just like, 'Oh, (shoot), I caught it,'" Lazard said. "Seeing his picture up there with the '443' and then I was just thinking about my journey, that this dude's thrown '443' touchdowns and I think I have maybe 12 or something like that total here in the past three years. Just to be part of his legacy, to be part of this organization. It was a huge moment of gratitude, for me and for everyone else as well."
After the touchdown, Rodgers' mindset quickly flipped to the next record he was closing in on – his 66th touchdown pass to All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, which would move the duo past Rodgers and Jordy Nelson for most passing touchdowns between a quarterback and receiver in franchise history.
Lambeau Field hosted the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day.
Rodgers didn't have to wait long. The Packers immediately moved the ball downfield on their next offensive possession, with Lazard making a stunning one-handed catch down the sideline for 34 yards on the last play of the first quarter.
Facing third-and-goal from the Cleveland 9, Rodgers considered giving Adams, lined up in the slot, a signal to make sure the two were on the same page based on the coverage. Call it "intuition," but Rodgers decided against it at the last second and opted to "trust" Adams would do what he was thinking he would.
Adams did that and then some. With the Browns blitzing, Adams beat his man inside and Rodgers fired a dart to give Green Bay a 14-6 lead at the time. The two connected again with 12 seconds left in the half from 1 yard out to put their total to 67 touchdowns.
Adams finished with 10 catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns. It was the eighth time in his career that he's finished a game with at least 10 receptions, 100 or more receiving yards and multiple TDs, which is an NFL record.
"It's obviously a very humbling thing to be a part of but for me, it's just keeping my head down," said Adams, who was selected to his fifth straight Pro Bowl this past week. "I just kind of see it as it happens and enjoy it for a night or two and then move on and get ready for the next one."
From Favre to Charles Woodson, Rodgers recounted all the great players he's played with over the course of his 17-year run in Green Bay before offering perhaps the highest possible praise of Adams – he's the best of them all. Top two, not two.
"When you start stacking up the numbers for Davante, it's mind-blowing," Rodgers said. "I really feel like he's the best player I've played with and I said that to him the other night, actually. I was just thinking about him and having a lot of gratitude for our friendship and the fact I get to play with him for so many years now."