Eddie Lacy’s two best games this year have come against the Vikings, with a 125-yard performance and his most impactful time closing out the game.
In their two meetings this season, Eddie Lacy
has looked like a different running back than he has the rest of the 2014 season. With as much attention as Aaron Rodgers
has received, Green Bay’s two wins over the Vikings are as attributable to Lacy as anyone.
In the other nine non-Vikings games, Lacy has rushed 116 times for 442 yards and three touchdowns – an average of about 13 carries for less than 50 yards and a touchdown every three games. Against the Vikings in two games, Lacy has rushed 38 timed for 230 yards and four touchdowns (three rushing and one receiving).
The Vikings did a lot of things well defensively on Sunday, but their inability to slow down Lacy, who averaged 5 yards a carry despite not having any runs longer than 16 yards, was their undoing.
“Lacy is a great back,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn
said. “When we were taking away the big plays, he was needed to lift their offense and he made the plays when he had to. It was very frustrating. We know he’s a great back and he’s tough to tackle. We just had to do a better job of gang tackling to get the job done and we didn’t do that.”
At no point was Lacy’s impact felt more than in the final minutes of the game. With 3:23 to play and Green Bay leading by three points, Lacy almost singlehandedly put the game away. He ran five straight times, gaining 26 yards, converting two first downs, forcing the Vikings to burn their final timeouts and setting up Rodgers to take a couple of kneel-downs to end the game.
The Vikings took away a lot of the deep downfield plays that have been the hallmark of the Packers this season, but in the end it was an old-school running display by Lacy that sealed the deal in a Green Bay win.
“We did a lot of things pretty well, but not enough of them, especially in the running game,” defensive end Brian Robison
said. “We paid attention to our assignments better today than we had the last couple of games, but the bottom line was that they ran the ball on us when we took away the deep plays and it was enough for them to win. Lacy is a powerful back and he showed that today.”
GAME DAY NOTES
Sunday was the 109th meeting between the Vikings and Packers. Green Bay has a 58-49-2 edge in the rivalry, including a 9-1-1 record in the last 11 meetings.
Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a monster day, but he was effective, completing 19 of 29 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 109.7.
Teddy Bridgewater had his first game with two touchdown passes and both of them were milestones. His touchdown pass to Charles Johnson was the first of Johnson’s NFL career and his TD pass to Greg Jennings was his first against his former Packers teammates.
Johnson was clearly Bridgewater’s go-to target. Of the 36 passes Bridgewater threw, 11 of them were targeted to Johnson. Nobody else had more than six targets.
Bridgewater tied for the all-time rookie record for completions in a season, finishing Sunday’s game tied with Christian Ponder at 158 and moving ahead of Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (157).
Jerick McKinnon ran 15 times for 54 yards, making him the seventh rookie in franchise history to rush for more than 500 yards in his rookie season.
Cordarrelle Patterson was slowed with knee and ankle injuries in the second half and caught just two passes for 18 yards.
Running back Joe Banyard got much more playing time than newly-acquired Ben Tate. Banyard rushed five times for 26 yards and caught three passes for nine yards. Tate didn’t play.
It’s never a good sign when safeties are your leading tacklers. On Sunday, Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton tied for the team lead with 10 tackles each.
The Vikings defense struggled late in getting Green Bay off the field. The Packers converted 6 of 11 third-down opportunities.
In the third quarter, Blair Walsh hit a 51-yard field goal that cut Green Bay’s lead to 14-13. Walsh is now 17 of 21 on field goals of 50 or more yards.
The Packers opened up the lead to 21-13 with a back-breaking 11-play, 87-yard drive in the fourth quarter in which the team converted a pair of huge third-down plays to march down the field. It was the only drive of 10 or more plays the Packers managed all day.
The Vikings had three double-digit play drives, including drives of 14, 11 and 13 plays.
The Packers added to their league-leading giveaway/takeaway ratio, by getting an interception of Bridgewater to move the Packers to plus-16 in that category.
Green Bay also leads the league in points scored off of turnovers with 96. They converted the Vikings’ only turnover into seven points Sunday.
The Vikings had one of their longest drives of the season to tie the game at 7-7 four minutes into the second quarter. The Vikings converted a pair of third downs and a pair of fourth downs on the 14-play drive that culminated with a 22-yard touchdown to Johnson.
The Vikings dominated time of possession in the second quarter, running 25 plays for 120 yards. The Packers had just 10 plays but gained 90 yards in the quarter. The Vikings held the ball for 10:31 of the quarter’s 15 minutes.
The Packers controlled much of the clock and field position in the first quarter, outgaining the Vikings 102-65. Lacy led the way with eight carries for 34 yards, part of a balanced attack in which the Packers ran 10 times and threw eight times.
Early in the game as the two teams were exchanging field position, Bridgewater got called for a rare intentional grounding. Typically, the play results in a 10-yard penalty. But because Bridgewater was so far behind the line of scrimmage when he threw the pass, the Vikings were penalized 16 yards.
In honor of the NFL’s salute to the men and women of the armed services, Sergeant Thomas Block sounded the Gjallarhorn prior to the start of the game.
The paid attendance was 52,386 with an inordinate number of Green Bay fans representing – even more than the usual in Minnesota.
See what Vikings fans are saying here