John O'Boyle/US PresswireAaron Rodgers did what was needed for the Packers to remain perfect.
The Green Bay Packers are still perfect because quarterback Aaron Rodgers was near-perfect on one type of throw in Sunday’s dramatic win over the New York Giants.
The Packers are the ninth team to start a season with 12 straight wins. Of the previous eight, four went on to win a championship. Their 18 straight regular season and postseason wins are tied for the second-most all-time, trailing the 2003-04 New England Patriots, who won 21 straight.
Rodgers has had success this season throwing to all areas of the field, but he won this game by completing his throws outside the painted field numbers (meaning: along the sideline).
He completed an NFL-high 21 of his 25 pass attempts thrown outside the numbers, for 265 yards and three touchdowns. That included all four of his passes on the game’s final drive, which resulted in Mason Crosby’s game-winning 30-yard field goal.
Rodgers now has 12 straight games with multiple touchdown throws, tied with Johnny Unitas for the second longest streak to start a season in NFL history (Peyton Manning had 13 straight to start the 2004 season).
Though the Packers have not played a lot of close games (this was the closest game of their 18-game winning streak), Rodgers has been amazing in tight games this season.
Rodgers is 33-for-43 for 506 yards and five touchdown throws with the score within eight points and the game in the fourth quarter in 2011.
Rodgers’ 37 touchdown passes this season are two shy of the Packers single-season mark set by Brett Favre in 1996. This was Rodgers’ fourth game this season with at least four touchdown passes, the most since Favre had five such games in 1996.
The one downside for the Packers was that Eli Manning took advantage of a Packers defense that was missing Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk. All three of Manning’s touchdown throws came against a base 3-4 defense, his first such passes of the year.
Manning was 3-for-4 on throws of more than 30 yards in the air against a defense that had only given up five such completions all season.
The 38-35 loss made for a familiar score for the Giants. It's the same final score by which they lost to the unbeaten New England Patriots in the final week of the 2007 season. That Giants team went on to win the Super Bowl.
Crosby's game-ending field goal made him 19-for-20 on field goal tries this season. His 95 percent accuracy rate is just shy of league leader, Falcons kicker, Matt Bryant, who is 20-for-21.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey entered the day with the league's best accuracy rate and a streak of 26 straight makes that was one shy of a franchise record. But he was imperfect on Sunday, missing twice, including a kick that would have beaten the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the fourth quarter.
Those would be costly misses in a Cowboys defeat that kept the Giants within striking distance in the NFC East.
49ers defense stars again
The San Francisco 49ers defense shut out the St. Louis Rams, giving the team its first playoff berth since 2002.
By keeping the Rams scoreless, the 49ers hold their opponent without a rushing TD for the 12th game in a row. They’ve also gone 34 straight games without allowing an 100-yard rusher, the longest active streak in the NFL.
The 18 division titles by the 49ers is tied for the third-most by any team in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). The Cowboys have the most, with 21.