GREEN BAY — There are only two teams in the NFL that Aaron Rodgers hasn’t beaten: The Cincinnati Bengals, and his own Green Bay Packers.
“I’ve beaten the Packers a few times,” Rodgers insisted Wednesday afternoon. “I had a couple of bad games.”
If the Packers beat the Bengals on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field, Rodgers will join a small fraternity of quarterbacks who’ve beaten every team they’ve faced.
According to Pro Football Reference, only Rodgers’ predecessor, Brett Favre, and former Indianapolis and Denver quarterback Peyton Manning have beaten all 32 of the league’s teams. Favre, of course, spent 16 years in Green Bay but beat the Packers twice in 2009 while with the Vikings; Manning went 1-2 against his old Colts team in regular-season play after joining the Broncos in 2012.
Behind them, only the Patriots’ Tom Brady, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and the Broncos’ John Elway have beaten every NFL team other than their own. Those quarterbacks, like Rodgers, have spent their entire careers with one team.
Like Elway, who never beat the Dolphins in the regular season but did beat them in the playoffs, Rodgers’ ledger includes his Super Bowl XLV win over the Steelers, who beat his Packers in the 2009 regular season and host Rodgers and Green Bay later this season.
Rodgers’ two starts against the Bengals came in 2009, when the Packers lost at home 31-24 and in 2013, when they lost 34-30 in Cincinnati.
With the NFL’s scheduling formula, teams go through a four-year cycle of playing each division in the opposite conference.
“Every four years we play these teams, so extra preparation (is needed) this week,” Rodgers said. “It’s an uncommon opponent, so we’re going to spend extra time going through the film study and talking through some things
“It’s still early in the season, so you’re going to see some unscouted looks, but yeah, these are the games where there’s a little extra preparation during the weeks.”
It was against the Bengals in 2005, his rookie year, that Rodgers saw the weirdest thing he’s ever seen on a football field: A fan, named Greg Gall, ran onto the field and stole the ball from Favre as the Packers were driving for a potential game-tying touchdown inside the Bengals’ 30-yard line in the final minute.
The game ended up as a 21-14 loss.
The man was tackled by security after running the opposite direction and nearly making it to the other end zone.
“We’re down seven, we’re driving, and the dude just runs past me and (fellow backup) Craig Nall. We’re standing there, kind of near that end — you get a better view sometimes when the offense is down inside the high red zone — (and) he ran past us. And what can you do? You’re not going to run after him.
“But nobody was running after him, and you’re wondering if he’s going to drill Favre or not. And we’re in a rhythm there, too. We’d hit a couple plays, we’re driving down trying to tie the game, and this guy is messing it up and taking the ball out and trying to run for the touchdown. I give him, he must’ve been pretty hammered, but I give him a lot of credit for the effort.
“I mean, he ran about 80 yards, maybe 100 yards to get down there (to take the ball), and then to try to get back another 80 for the touchdown, and couldn’t quite make it.”
Favre, who threw five interceptions in that game, was sacked on the next play after order was restored, ending the game.