Stats & Info: Aaron Rodgers

Keys to victory: 49ers 23, Packers 20

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
What were the keys to the San Francisco 49ers' 23-20 win over the Green Bay Packers?

Kaepernick’s scrambling ability
Colin Kaepernick had four scrambles for 85 yards, including one that got a first down on the 49ers final drive of the game.

That was the second-most scramble yards in a game this season (Russell Wilson had 91 against the Colts in Week 5).

Kaepernick finished with 98 rushing yards overall, his second-most in any game in his career (he had 181 against the Packers in the playoffs last season).

Kaepernick has 362 career rushing yards in postseason play, already the fifth-most among quarterbacks in NFL postseason history.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Kaepernick has two playoff games with at least 200 passing yards and 95 rushing yards. There have been only two other quarterbacks to have one such game—Otto Graham (in 1950 against the Rams) and Donovan McNabb (in 2003 against the Packers).

Crabtree and Davis make big impact
Michael Crabtree had a season-high eight catches for 125 yards. He has had at least 100 receiving yards in three of his last four postseason games.

Kaepernick was 5 for 6 for 95 yards on throws that targeted Crabtree more than 10 yards downfield, with one of those completions coming on the 49ers’ final drive.

The 49ers are 6-0 this season when Crabtree plays.

Vernon Davis caught his sixth touchdown pass in six career playoff games. That total is tied with Freddie Solomon and John Taylor for the second-most touchdown catches in 49ers history, trailing only Jerry Rice’s 19.

Pressuring Rodgers
The 49ers sacked or put Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers under duress on 14 of his 32 dropbacks (44 percent), despite sending five or more pass rushers on only three of Rodgers’ dropbacks (9 percent).

Rodgers was sacked four times (tied for his most in any game this season) and finished with 177 passing yards, his fewest in a postseason game.

Matchups to watch: 49ers at Packers

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
Last season, the San Francisco 49ers knocked the Green Bay Packers out of the postseason on their way to the Super Bowl. The Packers look to return the favor at home in Sunday’s wild-card game. A few matchups to keep an eye on:

Colin Kaepernick versus Dom Capers

The talk heading into their Week 1 matchup this season was how Dom Capers would scheme against Colin Kaepernick after he ran for an NFL-quarterback record 181 yards against the Packers' defense last postseason.

The Packers held the 49ers to 10 yards on seven zone-read rushes in Week 1, but Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards. That included 350 from inside the pocket, which by itself would stand up as his career high.

Kaepernick has two of the four highest Total QBR games against the Packers in the last four seasons.

Kaepernick has been even better with his full complement of healthy receiving options.

Since Michael Crabtree returned in Week 13, Kaepernick has averaged nearly 50 more passing yards per game compared with his first 11 games, and his Total QBR of 73.3 ranks fourth in the NFL over the last five games.

Also, Capers will have to plan without Clay Matthews. Matthews had a season-high eight tackles, including three for a loss and a sack against the 49ers earlier this season.

Anquan Boldin vs. Packers' secondary

Anquan Boldin had 208 yards and a touchdown on 13 receptions against the Packers in Week 1, his most receiving yards since recording 217 in his NFL debut in 2003.

He was specifically a headache for the Packers out of bunch formations (three skill players clustered together, stacked on one side of the center). Boldin caught all five of his targets for 92 yards in those sets.

He also caught 4 of 5 third-down targets for 63 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.

That third-down success wasn't an aberration; Boldin ranked first in the NFL this season in third-down receptions (33), receiving yards (529) and first downs (27). Additionally, he caught 75 percent of his third-down targets, tied for the best catch percentage in the NFL among wide receivers (minimum 20 targets).

The bright lights won't intimidate Boldin. His 380 receiving yards in last year's postseason were the fourth most by a player in a single postseason under the current playoff format (since 1990).

Aaron Rodgers/Randall Cobb vs. 49ers’ secondary

Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb returned to the field against the Bears in a big way, hooking up for two touchdowns, including the game-winning score on fourth down with 46 seconds left.

Cobb played 37 of the Packers' 76 offensive snaps (48.7 percent) in that game, but made his only two targets of the game count. In fact, no quarterback and wide receiver combo has connected on a higher percentage of passes the last three seasons (minimum 150 attempts).

Rodgers was 7-of-9 passing with 108 yards and a touchdown targeting Cobb against the 49ers in Week 1, including 3-of-4 for 74 yards when he targeted Cobb at least 15 yards downfield.

The 49ers’ secondary has allowed a touchdown on such throws in four straight games, after allowing a total of two in their first 12 games this season.

This was also a weakness exposed last postseason when the 49ers allowed more touchdowns on throws at least 15 yards downfield (four) than in the entire 2012 regular season (two).

Did you know?

Temperatures are expected to be in the single digits. Since the start of 2008, his first year as a starter, Rodgers is 12-4 with the temperature at or below freezing and has the highest Total QBR (73.7) of any player to make at least three starts in such conditions.

Rodgers pulls dramatic win from likely loss

December, 30, 2013

Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers was conspicuous by his presence in the Packers’ victory over the Bears.
In his first game since he hurt his collarbone in a Week 9 loss to the Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers on Sunday added to his lore.

His 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-eight with less than a minute left raised the Green Bay Packers’ win probability from 40.7 percent to 99.5 percent. After Cobb’s score, the Packers held on to beat the Bears and win the NFC North.

The fourth-down touchdown pass was the biggest play in terms of win probability added (58.8 percent) in Rodgers’ career and one of the biggest plays of the 2013 season. The Packers converted three fourth-down situations on their final drive, becoming the second team this season to convert three fourth-down plays on a drive (the Saints did so on a fourth-quarter drive in Week 15 against the Rams).

The Packers finished the season in wild fashion to make the playoffs. Their playoff chances were 5.5 percent after a 30-point loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The Packers won three of their final four games, including a one-point victory over the Cowboys in which Green Bay overcame a 23-point halftime deficit and 1.7 percent win probability.

Another tide-turning pass for Cowboys
Kyle Orton followed a fourth-and-nine touchdown pass to Dez Bryant (which created a 23.5 percent win probability swing) with an interception that dropped the Dallas Cowboys’ win probability from 44.3 percent to 5.8 percent (-38.5 percent).

The Cowboys’ regular-season finale was a fitting conclusion to their season. Cowboys quarterbacks threw nine fourth-quarter passes that swung the team’s win probability by at least 20 percentage points in either direction, the most such passes of any team this season.

Chargers rewarded for risky decision
With the score tied in overtime of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Chargers converted a fourth-and-two at their 28 on a fake punt. If the Chargers had not converted and been stopped for no gain, the Chiefs would have had the ball at the Chargers’ 28 needing a field goal to win. The Chargers’ win probability at that point would have dropped to 19.1 percent.

Since 2008, NFL teams have converted 18-of-27 fake punts (66.7 percent), including 6-of-7 (85.7 percent) fourth-down fake punts needing two or fewer yards.

Ryan Succop could have all but eliminated the Chargers from the playoff race with a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left in regulation. The Chiefs’ win probability was 61.3 percent before the kick, and Succop had been 19-of-25 (76.0 percent) in his career on field goals between 40 and 45 yards.

QBR shows Manning is consistently superior
Peyton Manning posted a 95.4 Total QBR against the Oakland Raiders, his fourth game with a Total QBR greater than 95.0 this season, most in the NFL.

Manning finished this season with a Total QBR of 82.9, his fourth season with a Total QBR greater than 80.0 since 2006 (as far back as we have data). The rest of the league’s quarterbacks have combined to post four such seasons during that span (min. 500 action plays).

Redskins finish with a new low in expected points
The Washington Redskins’ offense added -28.8 expected points to the team’s net scoring margin in Sunday’s 20-6 loss to the New York Giants, Washington’s worst offensive output in a game since 2006.

Kirk Cousins was limited to a 38.8 completion percentage (19-of-49) and an average of 3.5 yards per attempt. Cousins and the offense were forced to punt on their first five possessions (four of them after three downs). Their only points came on field goals after short drives beginning at New York’s 18- and Washington’s 46-yard lines. Washington averaged 3.4 yards per play (its second-worst of the season) and committed four turnovers.

The Redskins are the only team this season to finish in the bottom 10 in offensive, defensive and special teams EPA.

On the flip side, the Giants’ defense had its best performance of the season. Defensive EPA takes into consideration how the defense keeps the opponent from moving the ball, forces turnovers and scores. By that measure, the Giants’ defense contributed 28.8 points to the team’s net scoring margin. It was the second-best defensive EPA performance by any team this season.

Likely combo makes an unlikely play

December, 29, 2013
The Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs thanks to an improbable touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb.

How unlikely was that touchdown?

Rodgers entered that play 1 for 5 on fourth-and-eight or longer situations over the last five seasons.

The Chicago Bears sent five or more pass rushers on 16 of Rodgers’ first 40 dropbacks, including seven at Rodgers on the decisive play.

On the first 15 of those, Rodgers was 8 for 15 for 55 yards and two interceptions.

Rodgers was under duress on that play. He was 0 for 4 with an interception when under duress.

The Rodgers-Cobb combo has been one of the most valuable in the NFL when both were healthy.

The pair have connected on 77.1 percent of their passes since 2011, best of any quarterback-wide receiver duo with 150 attempts in that span.

Both of Rodgers’ touchdown passes to Cobb on Sunday were thrown from outside of the pocket. Rodgers has thrown a team-high five touchdowns to Cobb outside the pocket over the last three seasons, and has targeted him more than any other wide receiver.

The Bears were beaten by Rodgers and Cobb on pass that traveled 38 yards past the line of scrimmage. It was Rodgers’ first attempt 30 yards or more on the game.

This season, the Bears have allowed 8-of-15 passes (53.3 percent) thrown 30-plus yards to be completed. The league-average completion percentage on those passes is 29.6 percent.

The Packers win capped an unlikely course to postseason play. After Week 13, Numberfire’s simulations gave them only a six percent chance of making the playoffs. But from there, Green Bay’s hopes rose each week, culminating in the amazing finish on Sunday.

Defense won't save the Packers

November, 12, 2013

AP Photo/Mike Roemer With Aaron Rodgers on the sideline, the struggling Packers defense is exposed.

The Packers are No. 13 in the Week 11 Power Rankings, their lowest rank since Week 7 of the 2010 season (15th).

With Aaron Rodgers on the sideline, it’s easy to pin the dip on backups Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien. The two have combined for a 24.2 Total QBR the past two weeks, a far cry from Rodgers’ fifth-ranked 70.3 QBR this season.

The offense wasn’t expected to perform at the same level without Rodgers and with just one touchdown on seven red zone drives without him, it’s clear it hasn’t.

But without Rodgers and the offense matching opponents on the scoreboard, a struggling Packers defense has become more and more exposed.

No Turnovers

The Packers have intercepted three passes this season, fewest in the NFL. This is in stark contrast to the previous four years of the Dom Capers era, when the Packers recorded 103 interceptions, 17 more than the next highest team.

The Packers’ interception leader from 2009 to 2012 was Charles Woodson (19), who signed with the Raiders in the offseason. Woodson’s veteran presence not only led to interceptions for himself, but also for others.

Tramon Williams was second on the Packers during that stretch with 16 interceptions. Williams played nearly 400 snaps more than Woodson in their last four seasons together, but recorded only one of his interceptions with Woodson off field. Williams has no interceptions this season despite playing the most defensive snaps for Green Bay.

On the whole, the Packers averaged an interception once every 20.7 attempts from 2009 to 2012 with Woodson on field, and once every 29.9 attempts with Woodson off field.

This season the Packers have averaged an interception once every 101 attempts.

No stops in the fourth quarter

In Week 10, the Eagles were able to run out the final 9:32 of game time. In Week 9, the Bears killed 8:58 of game time in the fourth quarter on an 18-play, 80-yard drive. This inability to stop opposing offenses when it matters has been a trend for the Packers this season.

The Packers have allowed an NFL-worst nine drives of at least 10 plays in the fourth quarter this season (in nine games played) despite allowing six such drives in the first three quarters.

Breaking instead of bending

Most of the long fourth quarter drives against Green Bay have resulted in touchdowns. The Packers have allowed a touchdown on 42 percent of opponent drives in the fourth quarter this season, 10 percentage points worse than the next highest team (Falcons) and 24 percentage points worse than the league average.

The Packers have allowed more touchdowns throughout the game, however. Twenty-four percent of all drives against the Packers this season have resulted in a touchdown, worst of the Capers era and twice as frequent as the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl season.

What the Packers will be missing

November, 5, 2013

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesSince 2008 Aaron Rodgers has 185 touchdown passes and a Total QBR of 74.0, both second in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers will miss some time due to a fractured collarbone, his offensive contributions to the Green Bay Packers will be hard to replace.

What they’ll miss
Since Rodgers became Green Bay’s starting quarterback in Week 1 of 2008 the Packers have a win percentage of .663 (his record is 57-29). That win percentage is the sixth-best among qualified NFL quarterbacks during that span.

The Packers have made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, tied for the second longest active streak in the NFL (only the Baltimore Ravens have more with five).

Since 2008, Rodgers has tossed 185 touchdown passes and posted a Total QBR of 74.0, both second in the league. Also over that span Rodgers has 18 rushing touchdowns. Only Cam Newton (26) has more in that time frame.

The replacement
Seneca Wallace took over for Rodgers after the injury in Monday’s game. He is 6-15 in his career as a starter. The last time he started and won a game was October 3, 2010 when he led the Cleveland Browns to a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Among active quarterbacks with at least 20 starts, only Blaine Gabbert and Brady Quinn have a lower win percentage than Wallace (.286).

Altering plan of attack
Without Rodgers the Packers should lean more on their renewed ground attack. Four of Green Bay’s top-five rushing performances over the last five seasons have come this year.

The Packers have had an 80-yard rusher in each of their last seven games, the longest single-season streak in franchise history.

Since Eddy Lacy returned from a concussion in Week 5 he has the most rushing yards in the NFL. His 454 yards are 74 more than the second place back, Zac Stacy of the St. Louis Rams.

Injury bug rampant in Green Bay
Rodgers joins a laundry list of notable Packers that have suffered injuries this season. Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Nick Perry, James Jones and Jermichael Finley have all missed time this season with an assortment of injuries.

Top stats to know: Bears at Packers

November, 4, 2013

Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Getty ImagesThe Green Bay Packers have won 10 straight home games against the Chicago Bears.
The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will continue their rivalry and will determine if the NFC North will become a logjam at the top at the season’s midway point on Monday Night Football (8 ET/ESPN). A Bears win turns the race into a three-way tie. A Packers win would keep them in sole possession of first place.

Here are five stats to know heading into tonight’s game.

1. The Packers have won five straight games against the Bears and 10 straight home games overall. They also haven’t lost a regular-season home game in November or later since 2009.

This is the 11th time these teams have met on Monday Night Football, having split the first 10 meetings, but the first time the Bears and Packers have played a Monday night game in Green Bay since 1997. The Bears have won the last two Monday Night Football meetings between the teams, each by a score of 20-17.

2. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Aaron Rodgers' .800 win percentage (8-2) against the Bears is the best by any quarterback with at least 10 starts in the Bears-Packers rivalry (Brett Favre ranks second, .688 win percentage).

3. A potential key to this game could be how effective the Packers are at throwing the deep ball. Rodgers has completed 50 percent of his throws that went at least 20 yards downfield in 2013 (16-of-32). That rate is tied with Russell Wilson for the best mark in the NFL (min. 15 attempts).

The Bears are allowing opponents to complete 57 percent of their throws of that distance, the second-worst mark in the NFL entering Week 9. Last season, opponents completed only 29 percent of their throws of at least 20 yards downfield against the Bears defense.

4. The Packers’ running game has come alive this season and has become a major threat. Three of Green Bay's top four rushing performances over the last five seasons have come in the last five games. Green Bay has had an 80-yard rusher in each of the last six games, the longest streak in a single season in franchise history.

5. The Bears will be without starting QB Jay Cutler who injured his groin Week 7 against the Redskins. Since the Bears acquired him in 2009, they are 2-6 in games started by other QBs, while averaging nearly 10 points fewer than when Cutler is in the lineup. Chicago quarterbacks not named Jay Cutler have combined to throw eight touchdowns and 21 interceptions over that span.

Peyton ahead of Brady's 2007 pace

October, 14, 2013
Jerilee Bennett/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT via Getty ImagesPeyton Manning beat the Jaguars Sunday, but posted a QBR in the 70s for the first time this season.

As a reminder, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a QB’s significant contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team’s scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, where 50 is average. Since 2008, the team with the higher QBR has won about 85 percent of the time. Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

2013 Manning vs 2007 Brady
Peyton Manning posted a 74.0 Total QBR Sunday, his LOWEST this season. For context, a Pro Bowl-level of performance usually means a Total QBR between 65 and 70 over an entire season.

Manning’s Total QBR of 90.1 is the best in the NFL this season, and slightly ahead of Tom Brady’s 2007 pace through six games when the Patriots went 16-0.

Tom Brady's go-ahead TD and other late game heroics this season
Tom Brady’s game-winning touchdown pass with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Sunday was the latest go-ahead passing touchdown of his career.

It increased the New England Patriots win probability by 72.5 percentage points, the biggest swing in win probability in Week 6, and the fourth-biggest swing this season. The Patriots win probability had dropped as low as 5.3 percent with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter.

Rodgers leans on wide receivers
Aaron Rodgers completed 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) passes targeting his wide receivers, his lowest completion percentage on such passes in a game this season.

Rodgers, whose 55.2 Total QBR this season is his lowest through five starts in a season in his career, could have issues if Randall Cobb or James Jones miss significant time.

Quick Hitters
" Robert Griffin III had a Total QBR of 35.2 Sunday, and he doesn’t have a Total QBR above 43.0 this season. Griffin finished last regular season with a Total QBR above 50.0 in his last 10 starts. His Total QBR in the first half this season is 15.1 (only Blaine Gabbert is worse) and the Washington Redskins have scored one first-half touchdown on offense this season.

" Dwayne Harris had two returns over 85 yards each, including a touchdown Sunday, and the Dallas Cowboys special teams added 12.9 expected points, their highest in a game since the start of the 2006 season. The Cowboys special teams has added 18.1 more expected points than the average special teams this season, the fourth-most in the NFL.

" Nick Foles posted an 89.8 Total QBR against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his highest Total QBR in any of his seven career starts. Foles second-half Total QBR of 99.95 (6-of-7 passing, 145 yards, 2 TD), trails only Cam Newton in Week 3 for the highest Total QBR (99.99) in a second half this season.

Line struggles hurt Steelers, Giants

October, 4, 2013

Getty ImagesPoor line play has contributed to the Steelers and Giants starting 0-4 this season.
There have been some surprising starts to the NFL season, both good and bad. We take a look at issues that have contributed to 0-4 starts by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.

Check out Dean Oliver's in-depth analysis of the specific problems the Steelers and Giants face with their offensive lines.

The Steelers and Giants have combined to win four of the last eight Super Bowls but are off to their worst starts since 1968 and 1987, respectively.

Pittsburgh is the first team since the 2005 Houston Texans to fail to record a takeaway in their first four games. New York has been outscored by 85 points, the worst mark in team history through a season's first four games.

The bad news for the Steelers and Giants -- in addition to the 0-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars -- is that since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That would be the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

Let’s take a look at some numbers to support why the Steelers and Giants are off to such bad starts.

The Steelers' offensive line struggles have been evident all season, especially after losing Maurkice Pouncey for the season in Week 1 when he tore two ligaments in his right knee.

Pittsburgh is averaging 58 yards per game on the ground, fourth fewest in the league. The Steelers' 232 total rush yards are their fewest through their first four games since 1935.

Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times this year and has fumbled three times on sacks. Both totals are the most in the NFL.

The Steelers are allowing 27.5 points per game, which would be their most in a season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. They are tied with the Giants for the fewest sacks in the NFL (four).

New York
Eli Manning is off to arguably the worst start of his career. He has thrown a league-high nine interceptions, most in his first four starts of a season.

His Total QBR of 30.0 ranks 29th in the league, worst in his first four starts to a season since 2006.

The Giants can’t stay on or get off the field, a recipe for a bad team. They have converted a league-low 23 percent of third-down plays, and they have allowed opponents to convert a league-high 50 percent on third down. That includes allowing the Chiefs to convert 9-of-16 third downs in Week 4.

The Giants' pass rush has been running on fumes all season. In fact, it extends into last season as New York has gone nine straight games without sacking the quarterback more than twice.

The last time the Giants had more than two sacks was Nov. 25, 2012, when they got to Aaron Rodgers five times in a 38-10 win.

Two of the four sacks they have this year have come with four or fewer pass rushers, or a sack on 1.9 percent of opposing QB dropbacks.

As recently as their 2011 Super Bowl season, the Giants' four-man pass rush sacked opposing quarterbacks on 7.3 percent of their dropbacks, tied for second in the league.

Remembering past games outside the U.S.

September, 25, 2013
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will participate in the NFL’s 13th regular-season game played outside the United States on Sunday, traveling to Wembley Stadium for each team’s first international game.

Though the league has only recently held regular-season games outside the country, the NFL has held 58 preseason games outside the United States, including 13 in Tokyo alone.

Including preseason matchups, Sunday will be the 16th game London has hosted and seventh regular-season game, both the most of any city outside the United States.

Here’s a brief look at each regular-season game played outside the United States:

Oct. 2, 2005
Cardinals 31, 49ers 14
Estadio Azteca - Mexico City
Paid Attendance: 103,467

The first non-United States game in the regular season, this matchup also set an NFL regular-season attendance record that stood until 2009. The Cardinals-49ers tilt at the Azteca is still the only regular-season game outside the U.S. not played at London’s Wembley Stadium or the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

The Cardinals rolled behind a 385-yard, two-TD performance from Josh McCown. 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay was pulled in the fourth quarter after a poor showing, leading to Alex Smith’s first career completions.

Oct. 28, 2007
Giants 13, Dolphins 10
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 81,176

The NFL’s first effort in Europe was held in pouring rain. Eli Manning threw for 59 yards in this game and still won, sending the Dolphins to 0-8. Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon led an 80-yard touchdown drive late to make it 13-10, but Jay Feely’s onside kick went out of bounds.

Manning’s kneel downs led to boos from the Wembley crowd, not for the last time.

Oct. 26, 2008
Saints 37, Chargers 32
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 83,226

In what was the best pair of quarterback performances of the international games, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers combined for 680 yards and six touchdowns. Brees’s 339-yard performance with three touchdowns and no interceptions was enough to best his former backup.

Since the start of 2008, Brees has had nine games with at least 330 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, tied with Aaron Rodgers for the most in that span.

Dec. 7, 2008
Dolphins 16, Bills 3
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 52,134

This is the lowest-scoring international game to date, and was the start of Buffalo’s "home" series in Toronto. The Bills would lose their first three games in Toronto, and have only one win in five games north of the border.

J.P. Losman completed 1 of 10 passes at least 10 yards downfield, while Chad Pennington was 5-of-8 with a first-quarter touchdown to Anthony Fasano on those throws.

Oct. 25, 2009
Patriots 35, Buccaneers 7
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 82,254

Josh Johnson threw a touchdown pass to both teams in this game, while Tom Brady threw for over 300 yards. The quarterbacks did combine for five interceptions in this game, including a Brady interception by future teammate Aqib Talib.

Brady was excellent out of shotgun formations. Brady completed 16 of 20 attempts for 223 yards and all three touchdowns out of the shotgun in a Patriots rout.

Dec. 3, 2009
Jets 19, Bills 13
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 51,567

The only international game not played on a Sunday, the Jets won this Thursday night game in Toronto behind a sterling defensive effort. Buffalo gained 36 yards in the second half, the lowest second-half total by the Bills since 1996.

Second-year cornerback Darrelle Revis shut down Bills receiver Terrell Owens, holding Ryan Fitzpatrick to 2-of-8 passing for 16 yards and an interception targeting Owens.

Oct. 31, 2010
49ers 24, Broncos 16
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 83,941

Three straight 49ers touchdowns in the fourth quarter were too much to overcome for the Broncos. Troy Smith had a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown without a turnover.

Kyle Orton threw for 370 yards but took four sacks and threw an interception. Orton would make five more starts for the Broncos before ceding the starting job to Tim Tebow.

Nov. 7, 2010
Bears 22, Bills 19
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 50,746

Buffalo fell to 0-8 after the loss in Toronto to the Bears, who handed the Bills their third straight loss by three points or fewer. Jay Cutler threw for two touchdowns and the Bears defense forced three turnovers in the second half.

The Bears have had 30 games with at least three turnovers forced since the start of 2008, the most of any team.

Oct. 23, 2011
Bears 24, Buccaneers 18
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 76,981

The first team to repeat in London, the Buccaneers stayed winless at Wembley by not shutting down Matt Forte. Forte rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown with 38 receiving yards. Forte quadrupled the Buccaneers' rushing total himself, as Tampa Bay managed 30 yards on 11 rushes.

Cutler became the first quarterback with multiple international wins. Cutler would be joined by Brady the next year, though Cutler is the only quarterback with wins in three countries.

Oct. 30, 2011
Bills 23, Redskins 0
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 51,579

Finally, the Bills won a game in Canada, and a convincing one at that. The Redskins are still the only team to be shut out in an international game.

The Bills had four sacks in their first six games of 2011 but sacked John Beck 10 times in the game. That was only the sixth time since the start of 2011 a team had double-digit sacks in a game.

Oct. 28, 2012
Patriots 45, Rams 7
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 84,004

The biggest Wembley crowd for an NFL game saw a dominant offensive performance by the Patriots. After the Rams took a 7-0 lead, New England scored 45 straight points, including touchdowns on their first five possessions.

The lone aspect of the Patriots offense to draw London’s ire was again the quarterback kneel down. Ryan Mallett drew boos for running out the clock, sealing a win that made New England the first team with multiple victories in England.

Dec. 16, 2012
Seahawks 50, Bills 17
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 40,770

Buffalo followed up a 2011 win in Toronto by allowing the most points in an international game. The Seahawks dominated the Bills, with Russell Wilson accounting for four touchdowns and Earl Thomas intercepting a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass and returning it for another.

The game drew more than 20,000 fewer fans than the typical Bills home game at Ralph Wilson Stadium (62,527).

RGIII's struggles have Redskins reeling

September, 23, 2013

Greg Fiume/Getty Images Robert Griffin III and the Redskins are off to a slow start this season.
As a reminder, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a QB’s significant contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team’s scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, where 50 is average. Since 2008, the team with the higher QBR has won about 85 percent of the time. Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

RGIII continues slow start
Robert Griffin III had a Total QBR of 11.9 in the first quarter Sunday, continuing a familiar trend this season. Griffin has a Total QBR of 1.8 in the first quarter this season and is completing 46.7 percent of his passes in the opening 15 minutes.

Compare that to the final three quarters, where RG III’s Total QBR increases to 39.5 and he completes over 65 percent of his passes.

Griffin has posted a Total QBR under 50 in five career games, including all three this season. He has a Total QBR of 26.6 on the season, which ranks 30th out of 34 QBs. Last year his Total QBR was 69.3 through three weeks (11th in NFL).

One reason why Griffin was successful last season was his running ability, with the second-highest rush EPA among quarterbacks after Week 3 (5.52). His expected points added on rushes this season is -0.25 and he has attempted just 15 rushes through three games.

Overturned TD costs Redskins
With 9:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, Robert Griffin III completed a pass for 57 yards to Aldrick Robinson that was originally called a touchdown, and would have given the Washington Redskins a 23-20 lead (pending the PAT).

However, replay showed that Robinson dropped the ball. According to ESPN Stats & Information's win probability calculator, the Redskins’ win probability was 42.8 percent after the play was ruled incomplete. Had it been ruled a touchdown, Washington’s win probability would have been 69.5 percent.

Kaepernick can't connect
Colin Kaepernick had a Total QBR of 11.8 against the Indianapolis Colts, his lowest in any career start. After posting a Total QBR of 89.8 in Week 1, Kaepernick has struggled in the last two weeks, especially with his downfield passing.

He is 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) on throws more than 10 yards downfield in the last two weeks, after completing 52.6 percent of such throws against the Packers to open the season.

Quick Hitters
• Tony Romo posted a Total QBR of 96.7 against the Rams, the highest by any quarterback in a game this season. It was Romo’s third-highest Total QBR in the last five seasons.

• Eli Manning had a Total QBR of 11.4 Sunday, only the third time in the last five seasons he posted a Total QBR under 15 in a game. Manning was sacked seven times, the third most in his career, and completed one of his seven passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield. Manning’s Total QBR of 34.9 this season is his lowest through three weeks in the last eight seasons.

• Aaron Rodgers had a Total QBR of 33.3 against the Cincinnati Bengals, his third lowest in the last three seasons. Rodgers was 1-of-6 against five or more pass rushers and has a Total QBR of 15.2 against added pressure this season, on pace to be his lowest in six seasons as the starter (68.0)

Dalton > Rodgers down the stretch

September, 22, 2013

AP Photo/Tom UhlmanAndy Dalton and company took a little while to get going, but managed to beat the Packers.

What was the key to the Cincinnati Bengals’ 34-30 win over the Green Bay Packers?

In what was a topsy-turvy game, the Bengals won because they took advantage of a late turnover and the Packers failed to take advantage of early Bengals mistakes.

But along with that was the work of the quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers had a rare bad day. Andy Dalton rose to the challenge late in the game, particularly once the Packers lost Clay Matthews to injury.

Packers’ wide receivers slowed by Bengals
Rodgers completed 79 percent of his throws the first two weeks when targeting a wide receiver, but the Bengals were able to hold him to 18-for-30 when throwing to one in this game.

The Bengals limited the Packers’ wide receivers Sunday, holding them to 47 yards after the catch. Last week against the Redskins, Packers wide receivers gained 178 yards after the catch.

Rodgers had three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter Sunday, including his final attempt on 4th-and-5 with 1:25 remaining.

Rodgers had only one game in the last five seasons with three passes batted down prior to Sunday.

This was the first time in 36 games that Rodgers had more interceptions in a game than he had touchdown throws.

Dalton picked apart the Packers
Dalton completed 11-of-13 passes against four or fewer pass rushers (a career-best 84.6 percent), including all nine attempts in the second half.

Opponents entered the game completing 71 percent of their passes against the Packers’ standard rush, the seventh-highest rate in the league.

Dalton went 0-for-2 with an interception and a pass defended targeting A.J. Green in the first half. In the second half none of Dalton’s attempts to Green were disrupted by a Packers defender. He was 4-for-6 for 46 yards and a touchdown when throwing to Green.

Did You Know?
Rodgers is now 5-17 as a starting quarterback in games decided by four points or less.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Day
The Bengals are the first team to win a game in which they allowed 30 straight points since the Cowboys beat the Redskins in Week 1 of the 1999 season.

Seattle spells doom for opposing QBs

September, 16, 2013

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesColin Kaepernick suffered the worst start of his career Sunday in Seattle.
As a reminder, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a QB’s significant contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team’s scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, where 50 is average. Since 2008, the team with the higher QBR has won about 85 percent of the time. Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here:

Colin Kaepernick’s Total QBR was 14.0 on Sunday night, the lowest Total QBR in any start of his career. It was also the lowest Total QBR in Week 2 (min. 15 action plays). Both of Kaepernick’s worst games in terms of Total QBR have come at Seattle, where opposing quarterbacks have been limited to a 33.1 Total QBR since the start of last season, 2nd-lowest among NFL teams at home.

Kaepernick's three interceptions in Seattle on Sunday match the total amount he had during the regular season last year.

Robert Griffin III had a Total QBR of 43.0 against the Packers, including 5.3 in the 1st half as the Packers built a 24-0 lead. Griffin has done most of his damage late in garbage time this season, as the Redskins haven’t entered the 4th quarter this season with a win probability above 2%.

Griffin’s Total QBR is 23.4 this season, ranked 30th in the NFL among 33 qualified quarterbacks (84.6 through his first 2 games last season, 2nd in the NFL). His passer rating, which does not account for the clutch weight of the situation, is 89.6, ranked 17th in the league.

Philip Rivers had a 93.5 Total QBR against the Eagles, his 2nd-highest Total QBR in a game since the start of last season. He posted a 72.6 Total QBR in the 4th quarter, he entered the game with a league-low 7.7 4th-quarter Total QBR during the last 2 seasons (0.02 4th-quarter Total QBR last week).

EJ Manuel’s Total QBR rose from 29.6 at the beginning of the Bills’ final drive to 51.6 after his game-winning touchdown pass. Manuel’s 60.1 Total QBR through Week 2 ranks 13th in the league. The Bills’ Total QBR last season was 44.6, 26th in the league.

Aaron Rodgers had an 80.9 Total QBR against the Redskins, he had a 98.0 QBR when the score differential was greater than 17, compared to a 65.0 Total QBR when the game was within 16 points. He was sacked 4 times, including back-to-back plays in goal-to-go situations in a 0-0 game, and once on 3rd down.

Brandon Weeden’s 26.7 Total QBR Sunday was his 10th game with a Total QBR lower than 30.0 since the start of last season, the most in the league. His Total QBR of 20.3 this season is the 3rd-worst in the NFL.

Michael Vick’s 81.5 Total QBR was his highest in a loss since Week 4 in 2011 against the 49ers. He can blame the defense, the Eagles had a defensive EPA of -19.4, their 4th-worst in a game during the last 7 seasons.

49ers find another way to beat Packers

September, 8, 2013
Colin Kaepernick found Anquan Boldin often, especially on the right side of the field.
The San Francisco 49ers got the best of the Green Bay Packers both in last year’s playoffs and on Sunday afternoon.

But the manner in which they did so differed a little bit this time around.

Here’s a closer look:

Boldin the beautiful
Statistically speaking, Anquan Boldin had one of the best season-opening games in NFL history.

Boldin had 208 receiving yards, the most in a season opener since 2003 when Boldin had 217 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

He is the only player in the Super Bowl era to have one season opener with at least 10 catches and 200 receiving yards, let alone two.

Boldin was most effective on the right side of the field, as noted in the image atop the article. He finished with five catches at least 15 yards downfield, tied for his most in a game in the last six seasons.

Boldin’s 208 yards were 39 more than 49ers great Jerry Rice had in his best season opener for the team (1994).

The Elias Sports Bureau noted that Boldin is the first player in NFL history to have 100-yard receiving games in his debut for three different teams.

Packers shut down read option, but not Kaepernick
When the 49ers and Packers met in the playoffs, the 49ers had 16 zone-read rushes for 176 yards en route to the win. They had only seven such rushes for 10 yards on Sunday.

But that did nothing to thwart Kaepernick’s effectiveness.

Kaepernick completed 69 percent of his passes and threw for 350 yards and 2 touchdowns from the pocket Sunday. The last time these two teams met, Kaepernick completed a career-low 55 percent of his passes from the inside the pocket.

Kaepernick was 9-of-11 for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns using play-action fakes. Vernon Davis caught all four targets for 74 yards and both touchdowns on play-action passes.

Davis also had 81 of his 98 total receiving yards from the slot. Last season, Davis gained less than one-quarter of his total receiving yards from the slot.

Kaepernick's 89.8 Total QBR against the Packers was the best in any game against them in the last four seasons.

Rodgers struggles against pressure
Aaron Rodgers was his normal productive self against a standard pass rush Sunday, completing 20-of-30 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns.

However, when the 49ers sent extra pressure after Rodgers, as they did on four of his eight third-down dropbacks, he was ineffective. Rodgers finished the game 4-of-8 for 45 yards on third down, converting only twice.

By the numbers: Best NFL QB

July, 22, 2013

If we were to try to build the perfect quarterback from a statistical perspective, what parts from which current quarterbacks would comprise him?

Let’s try to break down which quarterbacks are the best when it comes to six different statistical traits.

Arm strength
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees led or tied for the NFL lead in completions (31), passing yards (1,142), first downs (30) and 30-yard plays (21) on throws deeper than 20 yards downfield last year.

In the past four years, no one has more touchdown passes on those throws than Brees (38). Only eight other quarterbacks have at least 21, a total that matches Breees’ touchdown-interception differential on those deep throws.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the only quarterback to complete at least 65 percent of his throws in each of the past three seasons. His plus-87 touchdown/interception differential is the best in the NFL in that span.

Decision Making/Ball Control
In the past three seasons, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has thrown an interception or fumbled every 90.5 snaps. No other regular quarterback over that span has a rate of more than 73 snaps between interceptions or fumbles.

Brady has thrown interceptions on only 1.4 percent of his pass attempts in the past three seasons, the lowest rate in the NFL.

Ability to run
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III ranked first in rush yards (815), yards per rush (6.8) and yards per scramble (9.6) among quarterbacks with at least 50 rushes last season.

Griffin added 16.5 expected points when rushing last season; he was the only quarterback with more than 10 expected points added rushing the football.

Pocket awareness
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was sacked every 29.7 dropbacks, the best average of any regular quarterback last season. Manning and Matt Cassel were the only quarterbacks sacked fewer than 20 times last year (both 19), but Cassel had 258 fewer dropbacks than Manning.

The other stuff
When factoring in things such as durability, fourth-quarter comeback success, road record and playoff record, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco comes out on top.

Flacco has totaled 63 regular season/postseason wins in his first five seasons in the NFL, the most of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Flacco is also the first quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first 5 seasons.

Flacco has six road playoff wins, the most by a QB in NFL history, and his seven wins on the road or at neutral sites ties him with Eli Manning for the most in postseason history.

So who’s the best
It depends on how you look at it. There are two reasonable answers.

One would be Aaron Rodgers, who fares best when we evaluate quarterbacks by all of the measures listed above. He has ranked third, first and fifth in Total QBR over the past three seasons.

The other would be Peyton Manning, who wasn’t the best in any of the stats we noted above, but his Total QBR rated as the best in the NFL last season and was one-tenth of a point better than Rodgers' over the past three seasons.

However, Manning only played in two of the past three seasons due to injury.

Either way, it’s hard to go wrong.