GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Dan Marino threw his 300th touchdown on pass number 5,460 of his career. Tom Brady did it in 5,321 attempts. Peyton Manning took 5,306 throws.
Aaron Rodgers, who has 298 career regular-season touchdown passes, could take 606 more pass attempts -- more than he’s thrown in all but one of his NFL seasons -- to throw two more touchdowns and he’d still be the fastest player in league history to reach 300.
Sure, it may be just another milestone on the way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but it’s still remarkable how much more efficient the Green Bay Packers quarterback is than even the greatest who have ever played.
“It’s his receivers, obviously,” joked Jordy Nelson, who has 60 of Rodgers’ touchdowns.
On the way to 298 touchdowns, he’s thrown just 73 interceptions. Brady had 115 picks when he reached 300 touchdowns. That’s the fewest interceptions at the time of a 300th career touchdown pass among the 11 quarterbacks who have reached that milestone. Manning had 152 and Marino 169. Rodgers will easily break that record, too.
So what’s more important to Rodgers, the touchdowns or the lack of interceptions?
“It’s both,” he said. “It’s big plays, it’s high touchdown percentage and low interception percentage. That’s the way I’ve always played since I was in high school. Didn’t quite do it my eighth-grade and ninth-grade year. Got a little better, got a little better in 10th, 11th and 12th and then took care of the football pretty well in college. But no, it’s the way I’ve always played. It’s opportunistic that I’m trying to make big plays, throw touchdowns at a high percentage and then don’t throw interceptions.”
Perhaps even more impressive is Rodgers has had just one of his 73 interceptions returned for a touchdown. Or, as Nelson put it, one-and-a-half. Nelson ribbed Rodgers for failing to catch Seahawks defensive tackle Nazair Jones in Sunday’s season opener against Seattle. Jones picked off a Rodgers pass and, with the quarterback giving chase, he returned it 64 yards for a touchdown. But the return was called back because of a penalty.
“I think he is smart with what he does,” Nelson said. “I think if it comes down to holding the ball too long or throwing a pick, he’ll hold the ball too long to protect that because you can live off that. You throw interceptions and pick-sixes, then you’re obviously really hurting the team. If you throw it away or take a sack, we live to play another down. And honestly he probably has the mindset if it’s taking a chance on second down or getting a sack and a third-and-long, he’ll take the third-and-long and see what we can do with it.
“But just everything. He sees things, it seems, before they happen. I think the guys upfront do a great job to give him the time. We try to do our best on the outside to make it as easy as possible, but he does something different than a lot of other guys. For as many touchdowns as he throws compared to his touchdown-to-interception ratio and everything else, he’s doing something right. Maybe he’ll tell you the secret because I don’t know it.”