GREEN BAY, Wis. -- They all wanted to catch it, and they all wanted to be the one to present the ball to Aaron Rodgers, but it was Allen Lazard who had the honor of catching the Green Bay Packers quarterback's franchise-record-setting 443rd career touchdown pass.
It happened in the first quarter of Saturday's 24-22 win over the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field, when Lazard took a short out and drove for the right pylon. History was made.
"My reaction was just like, 'Oh, s--t, I caught it,'" Lazard said. "I wasn't focused on it or anything. I didn't have a plan after to do anything special for him or anything. But I think, once I caught it, I knew I was in and saw the ref signal it. It was a pretty great feeling. It was just being on that part of history.
"Seeing his picture up there with the 443 and then I was just thinking about my journey; that this dude's thrown 443 touchdowns and I think I have maybe 12 or something like that total here in the past three years."
Rodgers said one of the things he loved about the play was that it was a throwback to his early days in the NFL.
"To throw 443 on double-stick, one of the first concepts I learned as a rookie in this offense, is pretty cool," Rodgers said. "I've had a long career and to break a record like that on a simple play like that, a staple of the West Coast offense, is pretty cool."
After the record-breaking touchdown, the Packers played a video message from Brett Favre on the scoreboard. Favre congratulated Rodgers and then said he had one request. "Go get us another Super Bowl," Favre said. "I got chills when it happened," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "I thought the tribute to him was outstanding, hearing from Brett Favre, having his message. It was just a great moment. I'm really, really happy that on top of that moment, that we were able to come away with a win."
Rodgers tied Favre's franchise record of 442 touchdown passes last Sunday when he threw three in a 31-30 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Rodgers set the record in his 211th game (and 204th start). Favre needed 255 games and 253 starts for his 442 touchdown passes over 16 seasons. When it was over, Rodgers finished 24-of-34 for 202 yards and three touchdowns as Green Bay improved to 12-3. Another difference between the two is their interception totals. While Favre threw 286 picks in his Packers career, more than any player in the NFL regardless of team, Rodgers has just 93.
Favre blew away the previous franchise touchdown record of 152 held by Bart Starr. Then Favre set the then-NFL record for touchdown passes when he threw his 421st in 2007. Rodgers threw his first touchdown pass in 2007, the year before he became a starter. That was his only one in three seasons as Favre's backup. The rest have come since he took over as a starter in 2008.
"I didn't think a lot about that back in the day," Rodgers said of the milestone this week. "I was just trying to kinda get to the next thing and thought how cool it would be to play five or eight years in the league and figure out what I'm gonna do next. Got to 10 and thought everything after that would be a pretty special deal, but yeah, 17 years, a lot of years starting, just have a lot of gratitude for all the people who had an impact on me during the journey. It's been a great journey."
Lazard felt like he might be the one in last week's game, as well, and it appears his patience paid off.
"I had a chance on the second-to-last drive that we had," Lazard said this week. "I think the wind caught it and it sailed out of the end zone. Yeah, I think anytime catching a touchdown is obviously a significant play in the game and everything. It means a lot to us individually, as a unit offensively. To be able to be a part of such a special record would be pretty cool."
On the Packers' next possession, after the record-setter, Rodgers threw No. 444. It went to Davante Adams for the 66th time those two have connected for a touchdown. That's now the most by a quarterback-receiver combination in Packers history, breaking the previous mark held by Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. Rodgers and Adams added one more -- No. 445 for Rodgers and No. 67 for the two of them together.
About the only downer on the night for Rodgers was that his fractured toe, which had been feeling better before the game, got kicked once and stepped on another time.
"Didn't get an injection before the game, was feeling really good, then kind of got rolled up there at the end of the first quarter," Rodgers said. "Kind of got past that, then got stepped on directly on the toe, and that's when the pain was pretty intense. Took care of it at halftime and, obviously, felt better. We're over six weeks past this now, so we're hoping that it wasn't a major setback tonight. It feels OK right now sitting here but it was a good week and fun to be out there and feel a lot better with my toe."