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How it happened: Aaron Rodgers' top passer rating, before he maxed out

A long forgotten day that stayed in the record book quite a while

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 by looking at Aaron Rodgers' 155.4 passer rating at Cleveland on Oct. 25, 2009, which stood as the record until almost exactly a decade later, on Oct. 20, 2019, when Rodgers posted the maximum 158.3 rating vs. Oakland.

GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers set some rather high standards for himself not long after he took over as the Packers' starting quarterback.

Take Week 7 of the 2009 season, the 22nd start of his career.

In a remarkably efficient performance to produce a 31-3 blowout of the Browns in Cleveland – just his fourth road win – Rodgers broke the franchise record with a 155.4 passer rating, going 15-of-20 for 246 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

A few things about the 155.4 mark really stand out.

First, it broke the previous team record of 154.9 set by Brett Favre six years earlier on that unforgettable Monday night in Oakland following his father's death. That game is much more iconic than a ho-hum runaway in Cleveland on an October afternoon, but certain statistics are what they are (more on that later).

Second, it topped Rodgers' previous career high to that stage by more than 20 rating points. He had posted a 132.2 rating in the '08 regular-season finale vs. Detroit, and those two games were his only ratings above 130 through his first 40 career starts. Since then, he's surpassed a 130 rating 26 times.

Finally, for all of Rodgers' greatness, including two league MVPs over the ensuing decade, his 155.4 stood as the record for almost exactly 10 years, before he broke it this past season by hitting the maximum 158.3 rating vs. the Raiders.

In that more recent game, Rodgers was 25-of-31 for 429 yards and five TDs, an all-time outing to be sure.

What's interesting about the Cleveland game in '09 is how Rodgers put up such a higher number in so few pass attempts, a mere 20.

It happened primarily because of two plays, both in the second quarter. He threw a short pass in the flat to Spencer Havner that the young tight end took 45 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Then on the Packers' next possession, Donald Driver turned a quick slant into a 71-yard TD.

The 116 yards on two plays accounted for almost half of his 246 passing yards for the game. Rodgers actually was at the maximum 158.3 rating at the end of the first half, having gone 7-of-9 for 174 yards and two scores.

The rest of the game was rather academic, with Rodgers completing his last six passes, culminating in a 5-yard TD to James Jones with just under 10 minutes left. Matt Flynn then took over at QB to finish, and running back Ryan Grant wound up the other star of the day with 148 yards rushing.

With just five incomplete passes, it's fair to wonder how close Rodgers came to reaching the maximum 158.3 on this day. Well, awfully close as it turns out.

All it would have taken is one short catch. If one of Rodgers' five incompletions had been caught for just a 4-yard gain, and he ends up 16-of-20 for 250 yards and three TDs, he hits the max, 158.3.

Go figure, right?

In any event, it's not one of those games Rodgers would ever point to as one of his best, because he's had plenty with more yards, more TDs, more challenges and more dramatics. This one, it was as though there was nothing to it.

Yet he didn't beat the efficiency rating for nearly 150 starts, and now that he has by maxing out last October, he can never beat his best again.