Goska: Packers' foes unwise to abandon run
The New York Giants' running game was lacking Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers. Among the shortcomings was an absence of stick-to-itiveness.
For the fourth time this season, the Packers effectively blunted an opponent’s ground attack. Green Bay held New York to a season-low 43 yards rushing in a 23-16 victory at Lambeau Field.
Long runs and rushing first downs for New York were in short supply. The Packers dumped Giants runners for losses on three occasions. They held them to gains of five or fewer yards 10 times.
New York’s output — 43 yards on 15 attempts – fit what is becoming the norm for Green Bay’s defense. The Packers have held each of their first four opponents to 50 or fewer yards rushing and an average per carry of less than three.
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There was one difference Sunday. Unlike the Jaguars, Vikings and Lions, the Giants never ran more than twice in succession against the Packers.
Historically, teams that have failed to string together three or more runs against the Packers tend to lose. At Lambeau Field, a loss is almost guaranteed.
There have been 51 occurrences by Packers opponents since 1954. Green Bay has won 46 of those games.
The Giants became the 23rd opponent to do so at Lambeau. The Packers are 22-1 in those contests.
Understand, this isn’t to say that had the Giants run on three successive plays they would have won Sunday. Many teams have done that and lost.
Further, this isn’t to say that the Giants’ failure to string together more carries was the cause of their loss. The reasons they dropped to 2-3 are many, and the reticence with which they ran may or may not have been among them.
Rather, we’re merely pointing out a pattern. Teams that ignore the run to this extent tend to lose, even in the pass-laden NFL of today.
Eleven of the Giants’ 15 runs were singlets; that is, each was followed by a pass attempt or a sack. The other four attempts played out as a pair of two-fers on the Giants’ second possession of the third quarter.
Bobby Rainey was responsible for the first. He gained three yards on second-and-4, then added another two for a first down.
The second doublet saw Paul Perkins get four and Eli Manning scramble for one. Josh Brown then kicked a 30-yard field goal to cut Green Bay’s lead to 17-9.
Though a third of the game remained to be played, the Giants ran just twice more. Rainey uncorked the team’s longest run (14) early in the fourth quarter, and Perkins gained five to set up Manning’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr. with 2:54 to go.
Forty-four years ago, the Detroit Lions were the first visitors to string no more than two runs together at Lambeau Field. On Dec. 3, 1972, they mustered 27 yards on 11 carries in a 33-7 loss.
The Carolina Panthers were the only opponent to run this infrequently and win. On Dec. 12, 1999, at Lambeau, they laid down 13 singlets, the last a 5-yard Steve Beurlein quarterback draw on fourth down that delivered a 33-31 victory as time expired.
In general, teams tend to shy away from the run when they lack confidence in that aspect of their game. They also become less invested if they have to play catch-up.
New York was without their two leading rushers from 2015: Rashad Jennings (thumb) and Shane Vereen triceps; injured reserve).
In addition, Green Bay put New York in an early 7-0 hole with a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that consumed 8:42. It was the Packers’ longest game-opening drive in terms of number of plays since it unleashed an 18-play, 90-yard advance against the Falcons on Dec. 8, 2013.
The Giants last ran no more than twice in succession in a game against Green Bay on Nov. 15, 1998. New York finished with 65 yards rushing (19 attempts) in a 37-3 loss at Giants Stadium.
The Packers have allowed 171 yards rushing on 86 attempts this season. It’s the best four-game streak in team history. The previous record was 188 (on 76 attempts) established during Games 4-7 of the 1994 season.
Fewest yards allowed rushing by the Packers in a regular-season game at Lambeau Field in which their opponent did not run more than twice in succession.
Yds. Opponent Date
13 Panthers Dec. 12, 1999
20 Buccaneers Oct. 2, 1983
27 Lions Dec. 3, 1972
31 Bengals Dec. 3, 1995
33 Chargers Sept. 15, 1996
43 Giants Oct. 9, 2016
44 Bears Dec. 7, 2003
46 Raiders Dec. 26, 1993