There aren’t many boxes on his to-do list that don’t have a check mark from Aaron Rodgers in his relatively short tenure as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He has one involving the Lions that he wants check off every season for the rest of his career.
Rodgers has a minority ownership in the Packers’ 22-game home winning streak over the Lions. The first 17 of those victories were from 1992 through 2007 with Brett Favre at quarterback.
Rodgers took over as the starter in 2008 after a messy divorced between Favre and Packers management that by comparison made "War of the Roses" look like "When Harry Met Sally."
Rodgers has added five more wins to the streak, and he never wants it to end on his watch as the starting quarterback. Despite a slow start and a 1-2 record going into Sunday’s game against the Lions at Lambeau Field, the Packers are favored to extend the streak to 23 games, and six with Rodgers leading the offense.
Rodgers emphasized on his radio show earlier this week that he doesn’t want to lose at home to the Lions, and he reaffirmed it in a conference-call interview Thursday.
"You know streaks are meant to be broken, records are meant to be broken," Rodgers said. "I was just emphasizing that it would be nice not to let that happen when I’m at quarterback."
Rodgers is one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, and there are many analysts who rate him No. 1 overall for his accuracy, mobility and ability to deliver in the clutch.
He has many accomplishments that are more meaningful than any kind of personal winning streak against an opponent. Rodgers was the MVP in Green Bay’s 2010 season victory over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. In 2011, he led the Packers to a 15-1 record, set the one-season record with a passer rating of 122.5 and was voted the league’s MVP.
Rodgers is the focus – as he is for all Packers opponents – in this week’s Opponent Breakdown.
"We trust our defensive linemen and linebackers to keep him contained," Mathis said. "We as cornerbacks and safeties, we have to do a good job of covering late in the down. We know he's able to extend plays.
"We know the receivers do a good job of coming back to the ball or going deep when he’s scrambling."
Rodgers burned the Lions with his arms and legs in leading the Packers to a sweep of last season’s two games. He threw the winning TD pass late in the fourth quarter in a 24-20 victory at Ford Field. Three weeks later, a 27-yard TD run on third and four in the third quarter gave the Packers a 17-14 lead in an eventual 27-20 victory at Lambeau.
The Packers have had some problems in what for them is a slow start. Pass protection, an ongoing concern, has been inconsistent. The pass defense has let opposing quarterbacks put up stats similar to what Rodgers has produced – eight TD passes, a 68.2-percent completion rate and a passer rating of 113.7.
The defense has been bad overall, giving up 29.3 points and 404.3 yards per game.
Great quarterbacks make up for a lot of a team’s weaknesses, and Rodgers certainly is capable of that.
A loss Sunday would drop the Packers to 1-3 and give the Lions a significant advantage in the North at 4-1. Rodgers won’t say it’s a crucial game, but there is more at stake than usual for the Packers this early.
"I think it’s too early there," he said. "Obviously, both teams could really do some good with a win.
"The encouraging thing after three weeks is we’ve run the ball a lot more effectively than we have the last two or three years. That’s something we can continue to try to improve on."
Personnel/injuries: Clay Matthews, the Packers’ Pro Bowl outside linebacker and one of the NFL’s elite defensive playmakers, did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. If Matthews is unable to play, that would be a serious blow to the Packers’ defense.
Matthews usually logs 90 percent or more of the defensive snaps. He played only 26 snaps, slightly less than 50 percent, in the Packers’ Game 3 loss to the Bengals. The Packers had a bye last week, giving Matthews extra time for the hamstring to heal.
Tight end Jermichael Finley, cornerback Jarrett Bush and fullback John Kuhn were back at practice. Bush and Kuhn missed the Cincinnati game. Finley went out early with a concussion.
How the Packers got to 1-2:
Game 1 – 49ers 34, Packers 28. 49ers score TD and FG in the last 5:47 to erase 28-24 deficit; 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick passes for 412 yards, 3 TDs and passer rating of 129.4. Packers commit 2 turnovers to 0 for 49ers.
Game 2 – Packers 38, Washington 20. Packers build 31-0 lead and coast. Rodgers passes for 480 yards and 4 TDs; James Starks rushes for 132 yards, 1 TD.
Game 3 – Bengals 34, Packers 30. Bengals erase 31-20 deficit with 2 TDs in the fourth quarter – TD pass and fumble recovery. Packers commit 4 turnovers.
Passing: Aaron Rodgers Overall -- 81-122 1,057 yds., 8 TD, 3 Int., 105.1 rating (3rd). Third-down – 16-26, 179 yds., 1 TD, 1 Int., 78.8 rating (17th). Fourth quarter – 21-34, 252 yds., 0 TD, 1 Int., 72.2 rating (24th).
Rushing: James Starks, 34-187, 5.5 avg., 1 TD, 13 1st downs; Johnathan Franklin, 13-103, 7.9 avg., 1 TD; Eddie Lacy, 15-51, 3.4 avg., 1 TD.
Receiving: Randall Cobb, 21-290, 13.8 avg., 2 TD, 33 targets; Jordy Nelson, 18-289, 16.1 avg., 3 TDs, 23 targets; James Jones, 15-212, 14.1 ave, 1 TD, 22 targets; Jermichael Finley, 11-121, 11.0 avg., 1 TD, 16 targets; Starks, 5-44, 8.8 avg., 0 TD, 6 targets.
Tackles: Brad Jones 26, A.J. Hawk 23, Sam Shields 21, Tramon Williams 16, M.D. Jennings 15, Clay Matthews 13.
Tackles for loss: Matthews 3, Hawk 2.
Sacks: 7 total, Matthews 2.
Interceptions: 2 total, Sam Shields 1, Mike Neal 1.
Kicking: Mason Crosby 4-4 FG.
Punting: Tim Masthay 12 punts, 44.0 gross, 42.6 net, 5 Inside 20, 4 returned, 4.3-yd\.return avg.
Returns: KOR – Jeremy Ross, 6-12.4 avg.; Punts – Ross, 2-10.0 avg., Cobb 1-16, 16.0 avg.