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Game notes: Eddie Lacy is Packers’ workhorse

Posted Nov 24, 2013

Packers rush for 196, but Peterson, Gerhart combine for 237

GREEN BAY—Packers running back Eddie Lacy was repeatedly punishing defenders with big hits and breaking tackles on sheer desire during Sunday’s tie against the Vikings.

The question is, after a bruising 25 carries for 110 yards plus six receptions for 48 more, can Lacy recover soon enough to do it again in four days in Detroit?

“My body feels good,” Lacy said after the game. “As long as I can keep moving, I’m going to keep moving. I don’t know too much about rookie walls.”

Sunday marked the seventh time in the last eight games Lacy carried the ball at least 22 times. He’s the workhorse, and when he’s bowling people over like he was on Sunday, the offense definitely feels the jolt.

“I think it lights a spark under Packer nation,” fullback John Kuhn said. “You hear the fans get riled up after something like that. If it jacks the fans up, you know our sideline is going to be happy.”

Lacy was stopped at the 2-yard line in overtime with a chance to win the game, but it was actually the previous play when he had a better chance to score. On first-and-goal from the 7, Lacy blasted into a defender just across the 5 and looked as though he might be able to keep churning his legs toward the goal line, but he got swarmed under at the 3.

“That’s what we ask of our running backs – when there’s not a big hole to hit, just put your head down and keep moving your legs, and we’ll come push you to get a couple yards,” guard Josh Sitton said. “He was fighting his (tail) off and battling in there. It was good to see.”

With James Starks adding 37 yards on three carries and the Packers quarterbacks getting 49 yards on scrambles, Green Bay rushed for 196 yards in the game.

Even tougher: Not to be outdone, the Vikings’ running game was even more effective. Backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combined for 237 yards on 40 carries.

Peterson did the lion’s share of the work (32 for 146), but Gerhart’s fresh legs were tough for the Packers to slow down, as he averaged 11.4 yards on his eight carries.

“They were pounding the ball on us,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “I have a lot of respect for how they do it. They don’t try to trick you or get in crazy formations. They just line up and run the ball, and today they did it, right down our throats.”

Still in a cast: Playing in his third game back from a broken thumb, linebacker Clay Matthews had two of the Packers’ six sacks of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, his first two-sack game since last January’s NFC Wild Card playoff win over Minnesota.

“It’s coming along,” Matthews said. “Obviously playing in a cast (stinks). I said that the first time I put one on. I’m hoping to get through this week and maybe towards that December month we can start gradually getting out of that cast and into something like a brace. So we’ll see.

“It does present its problems out there. I can’t do things how I’d like to, but I think I still play at a level that creates problems for offenses.”

Minnesota’s pass rush didn’t pile up as many sacks, with only two, both of starting QB Scott Tolzien. But the Vikings pressured replacement Matt Flynn into several throwaways among his 15 incomplete passes.

“They played hard,” Sitton said of the Vikings defensive front. “We went in to Minnesota a few weeks ago and kind of handled them. They came back and fought hard. They were playing hard from the beginning, and the entire game. It was a good battle.”

Rough outing: In his second NFL start, Tolzien was pulled after the first series of the third quarter, having completed just seven of 17 passes for 98 yards. He did rush for a 6-yard TD.

Including the Philadelphia game two weeks ago when Tolzien came off the bench in place of Seneca Wallace, it was by far the least productive of Tolzien’s three appearances this season.

“I probably would have pulled myself, too,” Tolzien said. “I wasn’t playing well. It was the right thing to do. I’m disappointed in myself, but right now, it’s team first.

“I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse. I just didn’t play well. A lot of throws you wish you could have back.

Flynn sparked the offense much like Tolzien did two weeks ago, with two major differences – Flynn didn’t throw any interceptions in 36 pass attempts, and he was able to finish enough drives to lead the Packers to 19 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Tolzien had produced just 13 points in each of the last two games, and seven through two-plus quarters on Sunday.

“I thought Matt played great,” Tolzien said. “That’s not an easy thing to do, to step into the middle of a game like that with very minimal practice reps. He did an awesome job, got in a rhythm, got the offense in a rhythm and brought us back. My hat’s off.”

Injury update: The Packers reported two injuries after the game. RB Johnathan Franklin had a concussion, and DE C.J. Wilson left with a knee injury. Neither player returned to the game.

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