Time and again Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge were foiled as the Reds were held to a goalless Barclays Premier League draw at Madejski Stadium.
Remarkably, McCarthy was playing his first match since November 4 having recovered from a shoulder reconstruction.
The former England Under-21 international was outstanding during the final 10 minutes when he produced breathtaking saves against Suarez and Gerrard, leaving Rodgers highly impressed.
"I was sat in the changing room with the staff afterwards and said I couldn't remember being at a game where a goalkeeper has had a performance like that, either as a manager, coach or spectator," Rodgers said.
"Normally goalkeepers make one or two saves that make a difference, but he made an incredible number of saves. It was a brilliant goalkeeping performance."
The 6ft 4in McCarthy, who was only playing after Adam Federici was ruled out with an ankle problem, identifies Chelsea's Petr Cech as the keeper he admires most.
"I've sort of modelled my game on Petr Cech - we're the same sort of stature," McCarthy said.
"I take a lot out of his game. I look at a lot of other goalkeepers, but I think he's up there with the best.
"Mentally he's a character, he's very strong and doesn't let anything affect him. You can see that by his week in, week out performances."
Liverpool produced 15 shots on target and would have won the match several times over but for the 23-year-old McCarthy's reflexes, which had Suarez staring in disbelief late in the match.
"You don't really think of the names when you're out there but it's nice to make a save early on to settle you in the game," McCarthy said.
"As the game went on I made a few more saves and my confidence grew and I just didn't want to get beat.
"It was nice to come back with a bang like that! I've been out for a few months so to come back and play like that in my first game was obviously a great feeling.
"Probably the save that stands out most of all is Gerrard one where he cut it back and hit it first time.
"I stood up and tried to make myself as big as possible and threw an arm at it.
"I was waiting for it to get deflected but thankfully it came straight through and went wide after it hit my hand.
"Obviously I was hoping for a quiet day for my first game but to come back with a performance like that is a great boost to confidence."
Reading boss Nigel Adkins admitted it would be hard to drop McCarthy when Federici recovers, but the academy product is taking nothing for granted.
"All I can do is what I can do on the pitch, the rest is up to the manager. But hopefully with a display like that I can prove I'm worthy of playing next week," McCarthy said.