- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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NFC North passing wasn't pretty in Week 14, but Total Quarterback Rating can help us flesh out the performances of our four starters. Let's take a closer look with an assist from Jacob Nitzberg of ESPN Stats & Information:
Passer rating: 80.7
Action plays: 32
Comment: To me, Sunday night was an example of how QBR tells a fuller story. Rodgers didn't throw a touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions, limiting his passer rating, but two big scrambles helped boost his QBR. Both came on third down, one converting a first down and the other ending in a 27-yard touchdown. QBR heavily credited the scoring run; if Rodgers had not gained yardage, the Packers were looking at a difficult 45-yard field goal in the snow. Rodgers was effective on mid-range throws, completing five of six that traveled between 11 and 20 yards in the air. His biggest mistake was fumbling on a sack at the Lions' 21-yard line on the Packers' first possession.
Passer rating: 74.7
Action plays: 53
Comment: Like the rest of the Lions, Stafford struggled in the fourth quarter Sunday night. Based on QBR, it was his second-worst fourth quarter of the season. When the Lions were trailing by one score, Stafford completed 1 of 4 passes for 5 yards, and both of his third-down throws were incomplete. Since Week 9, Stafford's fourth-quarter QBR is the fourth worst in the NFL after he spent the first eight weeks of the season near the top of the league's rankings. It's no surprise, then, that the Lions tied an NFL record for losing three consecutive double-digit leads. On the plus side, even with a depleted roster, Stafford was able to target receiver Calvin Johnson on 13 passes and complete 10 of them for 118 yards.
Passer rating: 57.0
Action plays: 52
Comment: Cutler's two interceptions accounted for the two biggest swings in the game, positive or negative, based on ESPN's win probability tool. That makes sense intuitively as well. The first set up the Minnesota Vikings at the Bears' 5-yard line, resulting in a touchdown, and the second was returned for a touchdown outright. In a 21-14 game, those plays loomed large. Cutler did not have much success against the Vikings' blitz, completing 1 of 8 passes against it for 10 yards.
Passer rating: 53.8
Action plays: 24
Comment: The good news: Ponder committed only one turnover, on a deep throw to receiver Jarius Wright, and took only one sack. Otherwise, Ponder seemed an afterthought in a game plan that called for 32 rushes on 53 non-kneeldown plays. Ponder didn't complete a pass that traveled longer than 9 yards in the air. Over his past five games, in fact, Ponder has completed one of 21 attempts of 15 yards or more, including 17 consecutive incompletions.