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Eddie Lacy, ground game power Packers to victory

Offensive line paved the way when Packers needed rushing yards the most


MINNEAPOLIS—Packers running back Eddie Lacy has two 100-yard games this season, both against the Vikings.

Sunday's effort not only was his best of 2014, it might have been the most impressive of his career.

Lacy pounded his way to a season-high 125 rushing yards on 25 carries, including a game-sealing 27 yards on five attempts to drain the final 3:23 off the clock in the Packers' hard-fought 24-21 victory over Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.

"He looked like a beast, man," right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. "He can do special things."

Lacy's game started to hit high gear early in the fourth quarter with the Packers leading, 17-13. On an 11-play, 87-yard touchdown drive, he carried five times for 28 yards, with the last two gains of 15 and five yards to put the ball on the Minnesota 10.

Then he took a shovel pass from QB Aaron Rodgers and began bulldozing his way toward the goal line, scoring to give the Packers a 24-13 lead with 8:34 left.

"Once he got into the second level, that's him right there, bouncing off guys, spinning off guys and getting into the end zone," Bulaga said. "That's what Eddie does."

After the Vikings got a touchdown and two-point conversion to get within three, the Packers put the game in Lacy's and his linemen's hands.

Starting from his own 20, Lacy powered his way to gains of three, five and four yards to get one first down at the two-minute warning. After a five-yard run, the Vikings burned their last timeout, and then Lacy got into traffic and pushed the pile for 10 final yards to ice the win.

It was the type of grind-it-out performance not often seen by the Packers offense, but one they now know they can execute with the game in the balance.

"When everyone in the stadium knows you're going to run the ball and you're still able to get a lot of yards, it definitely speaks to this offense and the grit that we have," left tackle David Bakhtiari said.

Added receiver Jordy Nelson: "All the weight was on the O-line there that last possession and they came through. We put it on their shoulders and they did it."

Lacy finished with two TDs, including a 1-yard plunge in the first quarter, and an even 5.0-yard average. Most impressively, he did that with a long run of just 16 yards and became the de facto lone back in the game after James Starks fumbled on his first carry and wasn't handed the ball again. Smart and patient are the words his offensive linemen use often to describe him, and they even said he wasn't feeling all that well on Sunday. Lacy didn't speak to the media after the game.

He rarely was tackled by one defender. One time Vikings safety Harrison Smith got him by a shoe in the backfield just as Lacy was about to spin away for a potentially big gain. It was a great tackle for a one-yard loss by Smith, but even then Lacy showed how dangerous he can be.

"You can't say enough about Eddie," center Corey Linsley said.

This type of win could be talked about as the season continues. It was in stark contrast to the two blowout victories that preceded it, but in the locker room there was a sense that winning this way meant more to the players.

"It's great to win games by a lot of points and be able to pull guys out in the third quarter, but to win games like that, it's very gratifying," Bulaga said. "It's awesome to do that. It tests the character I know for us on the offensive line and what we're about."

It tested the character of the whole team – on the road in an unfamiliar venue against a division foe – and the experience has been filed away.

"I felt this was one of our most impressive wins, because we did it the way we're going to need to do it," veteran cornerback Tramon Williams said. "For us to grind it out at the end like that, get the run game going, get those first downs, run out the clock, that's what you're going to need when it comes down to the playoffs.

"That's what we needed." COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE

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