Packers RB Eddie Lacy Brings The Force in Bounce-Back Game

A week after being demoted, Eddie Lacy was at his powerful, punishing best pulling away from linebackers and bulling his way over defensive backs who tried in vain to pull him to the ground.

The Force awakened five days ahead of schedule at Lambeau Field on Sunday. And it was inside a No. 27 jersey.

After missing curfew the week before in Detroit and for all intents and purposes getting benched, Eddie Lacy rebounded from a career worst day (five carries for 4 yards and one catch for minus-3 yards) with his best performance of the season, racking up 124 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, to power the Packers to a 28-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

From a purely Packers perspective, game film of Lacy running roughshod around, over and through an opposing defense has been more hotly anticipated than even the newest Star Wars movie. While this is the third time in the past four games Lacy’s broken the century mark, it’s also only his third of the season, and he still has more games (four) where he’s rushed for 10 yards or less.

After rushing for more than 1,100 yards each of his first two seasons and appearing poised to take his place among the league’s running back elite, Lacy’s lackluster season has swirled with questions about everything from his weight to the severity of ankle and groin injuries to his passion for the game. James Starks was given the starting nod over Lacy in Week 6 against San Diego and started four of the past seven games leading up to Dallas. But based on his week of practice, his performance Sunday, and his postgame interview, there’s little doubt Lacy got the message at the Motor City.

“I think it was just a way to show me that this is what I love to do and without it, I’m miserable,” said Lacy, who resumed his spot in the starting lineup. “And with Coach taking me out and going through that, it just showed me that that’s not what I want. And by him giving me a chance to come out and redeem myself, I think it was just a blessing in disguise.

“(Since Detroit) I was just making sure everything I was doing was the right thing to do, showing up on time. When I go to practice, giving them everything I’ve got, finishing through the cone, you know the little things. Pad level -- they look at that, and just getting back to the way I’m used to practicing. I wouldn’t say (there was) an urgency, but the guys are behind me and I don’t want my whole team and coaching staff behind me and I’m not doing my part. So it was just a matter of getting back on track and me being thankful that they’re helping me and making sure that I stay in the right direction.”

Along with James Starks, who had an impressive day of his own with 71 rushing yards, 32 receiving and two scores, the duo helped pave the way for 230 rushing yards on 44 carries – the most rushing yards Green Bay’s had in a regular-season game since Nov. 29, 2004, when they ran for 231 yards in 28 carries during a home win over the St. Louis Rams.

“We want to be a one-two punch and we want to go after teams aggressively like that,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who took back play-calling duties for the offense. “That’s the way we need to play here at Lambeau Field and particularly that’s the way you have to play in December.”

Starks struck first on a wet and unseasonably warm afternoon, taking a short pass in the right flat up the sideline for a 13-yard score and a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter. An Aaron Rodgers-to-Richard Rodgers touchdown at the end of the half gave Green Bay a two-score lead before Richard Turbin ran it in from 8 yards to give Dallas its only points of the day in the third quarter. Then, with 4:44 left in the game, Starks sliced through the middle of the Cowboys’ defense untouched on a 30-yard draw play that pushed the lead back to 14 points.

“Everybody’s talking about Eddie, but James had an awesome day, as well. That was a big score for us,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “The way defenses have been playing us, it’s tough to make a lot of big plays through the air right now. They’re really focusing on taking our receivers out of the game. So when they want to do that, we feel like we have to run the ball.”

Lacy, meanwhile, was at his powerful, punishing best pulling away from linebackers and bulling his way over defensive backs who tried in vain to pull him to the ground. His defining play was a 24-yard run with 2:58 to when he came off the right side of the line with a head of steam and dragged a pile of defenders for eight yards down to the goal line. According to PackerReport.com’s unofficial tally, 69 of Lacy’s 124 yards came after contact. He’d put the finishing touch on his day with a 1-yard touchdown run the next play.

“He just seems to wear teams down, especially in the fourth quarter,” Lang said. “I don’t know how many yards he had on those last couple of drives, but it didn’t seem like guys really wanted to tackle him. So, yeah, that’s the type of Eddie that we need consistently. And he knows that. Everybody knows that. He’s a guy that this late in the season when you need to run the ball, and need to be balanced, he’s a guy that you want to give the ball to. He couldn’t be a better teammate, couldn’t be a better guy. I’m happy every time he gets the success that he gets. Hopefully what happened last week (at Detroit) I think is going to be behind him, and he’s going to be a major part going forward for us.”

And in a season where so many have asked, “What’s wrong with Eddie Lacy?” he reminded fans, teammates, coaches, and perhaps most importantly himself, what’s right with him.

The Force is strong in this one.


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