GREEN BAY, Wis. – Back in 2011, when the Green Bay Packers were unbeatable – 13-0 unbeatable – they mowed down an impressive list of quarterbacks: Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer among them.
Then came Kyle Orton.
Actually, they beat him once, too. In Week 4 of that season, he quarterbacked the Denver Broncos in a 49-23 loss at Lambeau Field.
Nearly two months later, though, it was Orton -- this time at the helm of the Kansas City Chiefs after the Broncos went with Tim Tebow -- who became the only quarterback to beat the Packers in their 15-1 regular season.
If for no other reason than that long December day three years ago, the Packers know they must be cognizant of what the journeyman quarterback can do when they play him and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Orton will make his seventh start against the Packers for his fourth different team, and it might come as a surprise that this largely unheralded veteran has quite the record against Green Bay. He went 3-1 against them as an on-and-off starter with the Chicago Bears from 2005 to 2008 and then split those 2011 games for a 4-2 career mark as a starter.
The 32-year-old, who walked away from a backup job with Dallas Cowboys last summer and was seemingly retired, took over the Bills after four games this season and has led them to a 5-4 record since then. At 7-6, the Bills are still fighting for their playoff lives.
"He knows what he's doing," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "He manages the game extremely well. We played against him twice that year against Denver and Kansas City, and he was the one guy who beat us."
In six career starts against the Packers, Orton has never had a 300-yard game. If fact, he's only had two 200-yard passing games against them. One came with the Chiefs in 2011, when he completed 23-of-31 passes for 299 yards but didn't throw a touchdown. He has only one other game with more than 142 yards against the Packers and has more interceptions (six) than touchdown passes (five) against them.
Orton once led the Bears to a 19-7 victory over the Packers by completing just six passes for 68 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in 2005. And yes, he played the full game. He also has beaten the Packers with passing yardage totals of 104 and 142 yards, both with the Bears.
Orton's numbers aren't gaudy this season, either. He ranks 30th in Total QBR (42.1), 30th in yards per attempt (6.77) and 17th in passer rating (89.2). The Bills rank 17th in passing yards per game (230.9) and 20th in offensive points scored per game (20.0), although that includes the first four games with EJ Manuel at quarterback.
"I've always thought he's been very productive," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We've obviously played against him in Chicago, Denver, Kansas City. Played very well against us in Kansas City down there in 2011. He has complete understanding of the offense. He can make all the throws. He can still sling it. I think he does a very good job with their offense."
Orton and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers actually have a long-standing friendship that began in 2004, when both attended the Elite 11 quarterback camp as counselors during their college days.
"I've had some great battles against [Orton] over the years," Rodgers said on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show this week.