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How it happened: Aaron Rodgers connects on record 39 passes

He broke a mark of Brett Favre’s from 1993

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

In this new series, takes a look back at one of the team's single-game records and how the individual set the mark. The series continues with Aaron Rodgers' 39 completions vs. the Bears on Oct. 20, 2016.

GREEN BAY – It's not a record anyone really pays attention to or cares much about, frankly.

But there were still several interesting elements surrounding Aaron Rodgers' 39 pass completions against the Bears on an October Thursday night in 2016 at Lambeau Field.

For one, the previous team record had stood for 23 years, since Brett Favre had 36 completions – also against the Bears – at Chicago in December 1993. Rodgers had fallen one completion short in a 2015 loss to Detroit. Three dozen remained untouched for almost two dozen years.

For another, it was a record generated by circumstance. On a short week, the Packers were forced to host their arch-rival without their top two running backs, Eddie Lacy and James Starks, who were both injured.

Mike McCarthy and his offensive staff crafted a game plan on short notice very different from the norm. They decided to start Ty Montgomery in the backfield (he would move to full-time starting running back later in the season) yet utilize him on short passes as much as, if not more than, on handoffs.

Randall Cobb also was lining up at running back, imitating Montgomery's double duty. Receivers Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson were executing numerous short routes.

The idea was to get the ball into the perimeter players' hands quickly to gain yards. Go at a fast pace, run a bunch of plays, and make Chicago's defense tackle, a lot, on a short-week road trip. Deep drops, downfield shots and, at times, huddles, were simply afterthoughts.

The pace and frequent passing were typical but the schematics were unorthodox, especially for a Rodgers-led offense. In any event, it worked.

Before Rodgers took a knee on the final snap to close out a 26-10 victory, the Packers had thrown the ball 56 times and run it just 22. Montgomery and Cobb combined for 81 rushing yards on 14 carries, just enough running to keep the idea in the Bears' heads. Rodgers was sacked only twice in nearly 60 drop-backs.

His record 39 completions produced just 326 passing yards, a paltry 8.4 yards per catch. But that was sort of the point. On 406 total yards, the offense racked up a whopping 32 first downs, most in a game by Green Bay since 1983.

The plan only mustered two field goals in the first half, but in the second half the Bears, as expected, got worn out. Rodgers threw three TD passes to finish with a 102.2 passer rating. Four of the Packers' five scoring drives in the game featured at least 10 plays, and Green Bay ran 81 offensive snaps in all (to Chicago's 45).

If not for a sack-fumble on the opening possession of the third quarter that gave the Bears a defensive touchdown, the game would have been a blowout. After the costly turnover, the Packers scored touchdowns on three straight drives and seemingly couldn't be stopped.

All but five of the 39 completions went to three targets – Adams (13), Cobb (11) and Montgomery (10). Rodgers became just the second QB in NFL history to complete double-digit passes to three different players in the same regular-season game, joining New England's Drew Bledsoe from 1994.

Adams finished with 132 receiving yards (10.2 per catch), Cobb with 95 (8.6) and Montgomery with 66 (6.6). Only six of the 39 completions gained more than 13 yards, only two more than 20.

Since that night, Rodgers has approached his record of 39 completions only once. He had 37 in an overtime win at the N.Y. Jets late in the 2018 season.

For those curious, his playoff high is 31, also the team postseason record. He set it in his maestro performance at Atlanta in the 2010 divisional round and tied it this past January at San Francisco in the NFC title game.


Take a look at the best photos from Aaron Rodgers' record day against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 20, 2016.