PLAY OF THE DAY
The Packers’ clinching run on second-and-5 from the 37-yard line just sort of personifies the resolve of an offense that struggled at times after scoring 108 points the last past two weeks.
The Packers lined up in the “I” formation, with fullback John Kuhn and running back Eddie Lacy in the backfield, Andrew Quarless the tight end to the left, Richard Rodgers the tight end to the right and receiver Jordy Nelson lined up wide right.
The play was run behind center Corey Linsley and right guard T.J. Lang. The key block, however, was made by left guard Josh Sitton, who pulled to his right. Linsley initially started his block against the Vikings talented defensive tackle, Linval Joseph. Linsley got him moving, with Sitton then driving Joseph downfield. With Joseph on the move, Linsley headed downfield to block linebacker Jasper Brinkley.
By the time Lacy reached the line of scrimmage, Sitton had helped push Joseph to the 39 and Linsley was about to lock onto Brinkley at the 40. Meanwhile, Rodgers had an excellent block on Vikings defensive end Brian Robison and Kuhn – while unable to sustain his block on linebacker Chad Greenway – certainly did enough to keep Greenway from containing Lacy. Lacy then cut to his left behind Sitton. By the time he encountered his first would-be tacklers, Lacy was just about at the first-down marker at the 42.
From there, it’s Lacy’s brute force and a run-blocking unit ready to finish the play in style. Sitton, Quarless, Kuhn and Linsley all helped Lacy pick up a few extra yards. Lacy finally went down at the 47. Kuhn celebrated by head-butting Linsley and the game was over.
“That’s obviously a great way to finish a game, getting in a four-minute offense, be able to run the clock out, take a knee at the end,” Lang said. “That’s just everybody doing their job at the end and not giving them another chance to go down and score and take the lead. Those are very satisfying getting those drives and being able to close it out by kneeling on the ball.”
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Any time a running back has a big day, which Lacy certainly did with season-high totals of 25 rushes for 125 rushing yards and two total touchdowns, the offensive line deserves a big chunk of the credit. Lacy, however, was tremendous while playing sick. He’s an all-around weapon, whether it’s powering the running game, turning a shovel pass into a touchdown or protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In the long history of the Packers, no running back has ever had at least 100 yards from scrimmage and a receiving touchdown in three consecutive games. Until Lacy.
“A beast. He looked like a beast,” right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. “I’m telling you, he can do special things and, like I’ve been saying, very smart, patient, physical guy. He’s able to do everything you need him to do.”
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL
Now it’s New England in what might be a Super Bowl preview.
The Packers are 8-3. They have won seven of their last eight games, with five of the wins by at least 21 points. The Patriots are 9-2. They have won seven in a row, with five of the wins by at least 22 points.
Can the Packers, with their two-man receiving corps, move the ball against New England, which has quality corners and Bill Belichick leading the defensive show? Can the Packers’ secondary play better against Tom Brady than it did against Drew Brees?
“Of course, we would love to score 50 points and the game’s over in the third quarter but, I think as a team, sometimes you need some of these wins,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said. “It’s a little bit of a humbling victory but also now we know that we can go into these close battles and we can basically go 10, 12 rounds and take some punches and give some blows back and really show a lot of grit.”
NUMBERS WORTH NOTING
0: Seconds the Packers have trailed the last three games.
0: Points on the opening drive. The Packers had scored on their opening possession in each of their last five games and six of the previous seven, with five touchdowns and one field goal. They did score a first-quarter touchdown to give them a league-high 114 points for the season.
1: Length of Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers. The ball traveled about 40 yards in the air and the rookie tight end didn’t have a defender within 15 yards of him when he caught his first career touchdown pass.
15: Green Bay’s turnover differential after going plus-1 on Sunday. Green Bay is 7-1 when winning the turnover battle this season.
15: Touchdown passes by Rodgers, against no interceptions, in his last five games at Minnesota.
21: Points by the Vikings. They were 4-0 when scoring at least 17 before Sunday.
22.5: Points per game in Green Bay’s six road games.
24: Touchdown passes by Rodgers, against just one interception, in his last nine games against the Vikings. Green Bay is 8-1 in those games.
31: Consecutive games with a sack by Green Bay’s defense, the longest streak in franchise history and the longest current streak in the NFL.
43.8: Points per game in Green Bay’s five home games.
64: Rushing yards by Eddie Lacy, out of his 125 for the game, that came after contact, according to Packer Report’s live charting. Of those, 33 came in the fourth quarter.
90: Regular-season wins by Packers coach Mike McCarthy, passing Vince Lombardi for second-most in franchise history. Curly Lambeau’s record of 209 wins seems untouchable. But, hey, if he wins 10 regular-season games for each of the next 12 seasons …
138: Yards from scrimmage for Lacy. The Packers are 4-1 when he reaches 100-plus this season.
209: Passing yards by Rodgers.
210: Passing yards by counterpart Teddy Bridgewater.
308: Yards allowed by the Packers, their second-lowest total of the season. (Minnesota had 299 yards on Oct. 2.)
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