The stories said Aaron Rodgers threw six touchdown passes in the first half Sunday night to tie the NFL/AFL record. Actually, it was better than that — or worse, depending on your point of view.
If you want to be exact about it, Rodgers threw for six scores in 20 minutes, 59 seconds in the Packers’ 55-14 blowout of the Bears. That’s quite a bit less than a half. It went like this:
1. 6:13 left, first quarter: 1-yard TD to TE Brandon Bostick.
2. 3:53, first quarter: 4-yard TD to TE Andrew Quarless.
3. 14:48, second quarter: 73-yard TD to WR Jordy Nelson.
4. 12:09, second quarter: 40-yard TD to Nelson.
5. 4:48, second quarter: 56-yard TD to RB Eddie Lacy.
6. 0:14, second quarter: 18-yard TD to WR Randall Cobb.
Consider: The record for a game is seven, and it’s been done only seven times. But Rodgers threw six in barely a third of a game. I know the Bears played atrocious defense, but is this a really good thing? Is it good that the rules are now so pro-passer that a QB can toss six touchdown passes in a tick less than 21 minutes?
After all, earlier in the day, Peyton Manning had thrown five in just 16:43 in the Broncos’ 41-17 scrimmage against the Raiders. His timeline looked like this:
1. 2:44 left, second quarter: 51-yard TD to RB C.J. Anderson.
2. 0:28, second quarter: 32-yard TD to WR Emmanuel Sanders.
3. 12:43, third quarter: 10-yard TD to TE Julius Thomas.
4. 6:52, third quarter: 32-yard TD to Thomas.
5. 1:01, third quarter: 15-yard TD to Sanders.
Granted, the Raiders, like the Bears, have one of the worst defenses in the league, but this is still a bit much. The game has gotten out of whack, if you ask me. And the way things are going, it’s only going to get out-of-whacker.
My favorite stat might be this: Together, Rodgers and Manning threw for 11 scores in 37:42. Now that’s what I’m looking forward to — the 11-TD game.
The only other quarterback to toss six touchdown passes in a half is the Raiders’ Daryle “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica in this battering of the Bills in 1969, the last year of the AFL. According to the Oakland Tribune, four of Lamonica’s TDs came in just six offensive plays during an eight-minute stretch of the second quarter.
“The [Buffalo] turnovers were coming so rapidly that [wide receiver] Warren Wells dashed onto the field without his helmet, so anxious was he to get in on the fun,” the Tribune said. “He was stopped by an official, more than Buffalo could do to him.”
Lamonica’s first half numbers: 24 attempts, 17 completions, 275 yards, 6 touchdowns. That’s awfully close to Rodgers’ 24-18-315-6 line.
The timeline of The Mad Bomber’s scoring tosses:
1. 12:53 left, first quarter: 53-yard TD to TE Billy Cannon.
2. 0:46, first quarter: 10-yard TD to RB Pete Banaszak.
3. 12:54, second quarter: 1-yard TD to Banaszak.
4. 12:17, second quarter: 13-yard TD to Wells.
5. 9:04, second quarter: 16-yard TD to WR Fred Biletnikoff.
6. 4:33, second quarter: 23-yard TD to Biletnikoff.
For those of you scoring at home, that’s six touchdown passes in 23:20 (to Rodgers’ 20:59).
But get this: Lamonica came close to throwing seven in the first half. The Tribune said he “fell six yards short of equaling the pro record of seven in a game when [wide receiver] Drew Buie was carried out of bounds short of the end zone on a 37-yard completion on the last play before the half.”
There was a funny sidelight to The Mad Bomber’s big day, by the way. The backstory: The year before, a crucial game between the Raiders and Jets had run long, and NBC made the infamous decision to cut away from it in the final minutes so it could begin airing the children’s movie Heidi on time. It was a public relations disaster for the network, even though it returned to the game before it was over (after being swamped with phone calls from irate fans).
Anyway, NBC had planned to follow the Raiders-Bills game with Heidi again, but there was no way it was going to make the same mistake twice. When the game spilled over into the next time slot — by eight minutes — the network stuck with it until the end. Only then was Heidi allowed to prance across the television screen.