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Notebook: Lacy breaks through against stacked Vikings defense

Nov. 24, 2013
 

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Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy runs over defenders during Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Lukas Keapproth/Press Gazette Media

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Nothing could stop Eddie Lacy on Sunday. Well, almost nothing.

Aside from an asthma flare-up that sidelined him for a series in overtime, the Green Bay Packers’ rookie running back was difficult to slow down en route to accumulating 158 total yards (110 rushing, 48 receiving) and a touchdown in Sunday’s 26-26 tie with the Minnesota Vikings.

Feelings were mixed in the Packers’ locker room after the franchise’s first tie in 26 years, but the half-game they picked up in the NFC North race came largely on the back of Lacy.

Matt Flynn provided a jolt in the third quarter when he replaced Scott Tolzien under center, but Lacy gave the Vikings’ defensive front all it could handle from the start. His longest run went for only 17 yards, but he kept down-and-distances manageable for an offense in flux.

“I love the kid. I think he runs his (butt) off,” Packers rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari said. “He’s special. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. Most importantly, he’s a great kid. He’s got something special and he’s using it. It was awesome.”

The Packers saw a lot of 8-man boxes in last week’s 27-13 loss to the New York Giants and were held to a season-low 55 yards on 20 carries. The Vikings brought a similar game plan early with lots of one-high safety looks, but the offensive line and Lacy were up to the task.

There were few spectacular rushes outside of James Starks’ 34-yard carry in the third quarter, but Lacy consistently chipped away. When he got free on the outside, he flattened defensive backs like Xavier Rhodes for extra yardage.

To prepare to face 8-man boxes, Lacy said he watched some video of his counterpart on Sunday, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, to see how he dealt with unblocked defenders.

Peterson put on a clinic with 146 yards on 32 carries, but Lacy contributed 92 of his 158 total yards and a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to help force overtime. He briefly went to the locker room with an asthma issue, but returned for the final series.

“I actually watched a couple clips on YouTube just to see what (Peterson) does when the box is stacked like that just to get an idea of what I should do or what I can add to what I do,” said Lacy, who has rushed for 806 yards and six touchdowns on 197 carries.

“He’s very patient, but even with his patience he has great explosion. As soon as he finds it, he’s hitting it like zero-to-60 really fast. I’m trying to work on the zero-to-60 part.”

Richardson's return

Sean Richardson had an inkling he’d be activated from the physically unable to perform list this week — he just didn’t know how much he’d play once he was.

In his first on-field action in a year, the second-year safety not only contributed on special teams, but also wound up playing a few series at safety as the Packers shuffled their defense in the second half.

Coming off single-spinal fusion surgery of the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae last January, Richardson didn’t record a tackle, but the coaches felt secure enough in his ability to pair him with veteran Morgan Burnett for a couple series.

“We all rotate,” said Richardson, who played only 15 defensive snaps as a rookie. “I guess it was just game situation with them running the ball, their running attack in the 4-minute offense. It was just more of (getting) a bigger body, physical, but I was excited. I got a lot of special teams and defense (snaps).”

Former second-round pick Jerel Worthy, who also was activated from PUP on Saturday, received a handful of snaps in his first appearance since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last December against the Vikings.

Quieting Patterson

Special teams fared better against Vikings returner Cordarrelle Patterson than last month’s meeting but still were burned in the early going.

After taking the opening kickoff back in last month’s game against Green Bay, the 22-year-old rookie receiver returned his first kickoff 57 yards after making rookie linebacker Andy Mulumba whiff on the initial tackle.

The Packers didn’t make the same mistake twice. The NFL’s leading kickoff returner finished with 69 yards on his last three returns (23.0 yards per return).

When the Packers tied the game 23-23 with 46 seconds left, Crosby perfectly executed a pooch kickoff short to a blocking Toby Gerhart, who took it 17 yards to the Minnesota 30.

“That was the plan there, and we obviously wanted to take (Patterson) out of the game,” said Crosby, who also made field goals from 27 and 20 yards. “He’s so dangerous, and we tried to get it in someone else’s hands even. Gerhart is somewhat of a threat being a running back, but we felt good about it and we were able to execute it and tackle him where we wanted to.”

Going for two

McCarthy defended his decision to go for a two-point conversion after Lacy’s 3-yard touchdown run with 11:47 left in regulation and the Packers trailing 23-13.

Trying to get within one score, Flynn’s pass to tight end Andrew Quarless was intercepted. If they’d kicked the extra point, the Packers could have won 24-23, but McCarthy was OK with how things played out.

“I’m comfortable with the decision,” McCarthy said. “We had a good play. Frankly, I wish we had a couple more reps in that play; I think it would have been a little clearer for him. So I thought it was a solid decision.”

Game change

The NFL has flexed the Dec. 8 Packers-Falcons game at Lambeau Field out of the Sunday night time slot and moved to a noon start. FOX will broadcast the game.

Injury update

■ Micah Hyde played through the groin injury that kept him out of practice Thursday and Friday, returning kickoffs and punts, and working as a slot cornerback.

The Packers tried to lessen Hyde’s burden by having running back Johnathan Franklin handle the opening kickoff, but he suffered a concussion on the 22-yard return.

The Packers’ only other injury was defensive lineman C.J. Wilson, who was carted off with a left knee injury near the end of regulation and didn’t return.

■ Marshall Newhouse started again at right tackle in place of Don Barclay, who declined comment about the condition of his knee injury after the game.

Cornerback Sam Shields (hamstring), defensive lineman Johnny Jolly (groin), outside linebacker Nick Perry (ankle/knee), receiver Chris Harper, outside linebacker Nate Palmer and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) also were inactive.

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