Monday, December 16, 2013
Sticking with the run pays off for Packers
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have a legitimate running game and if Sunday’s comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys taught them anything, it’s that they should never forget that.
The Cowboys’ offensive brain trust forgot about theirs, and it cost them the game.
The Packers watched in amazement in the second half as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped back to pass time after time, even after DeMarco Murray had shredded them for 93 yards on just 11 carries in the first half.
Inexplicably, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan gave Murray merely seven more carries in the second half. At one point in the fourth quarter, Romo dropped back to pass on 10 straight play and 11 out of 12 -- the last of which was a fatal mistake. On second-and-6 from his own 35 late in the fourth quarter, Romo had a run-pass option and went with the pass. Cornerback Sam Shields made him pay for it, picking off a pass to set up the Packers’ go-ahead touchdown.
“Definitely surprised they were throwing the ball there,” said Packers cornerback Tramon Williams, who then intercepted Romo on the Cowboys’ next possession. “I didn’t see exactly what was going on on the other side of the field, but I did see that Sam caught the ball. I think there was maybe 2 minutes and something left and they’re throwing the ball. I’m glad they threw the ball. Obviously it kept us in the game. Sam made a big play for us and our offense went right down and scored. It was great.”
So was Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s decision to stick with the run despite the 23-point deficit he faced coming out of halftime.
To say one play changed the game would be an overstatement, but the 60-yard run that Eddie Lacy ripped off to open the third quarter was a major start. With fullback John Kuhn and tight end Andrew Quarless both in the backfield to block, Lacy benefit from Kuhn’s masterful cut block on safety Barry Church and was off and running.
“We ran it [earlier in the game], and it was there,” center Evan Dietrich-Smith said. “And then we were going to come back to it, and we just never got back to it in the first half. Right out of the gate, we called it, and it busts wide open. It was one of those deals where all of a sudden everything started clicking from there. It was one play after another. The next thing you know we’re scoring touchdowns and all that kind of stuff.”
Perhaps it was fitting that on a day in which McCarthy stuck with the run – the Packers ran on 46 percent of their second-half plays, while the Cowboys did so on just 23 percent of theirs – Lacy became the Packers’ first rookie to rush for 1,000 yards since 1971. His 141-yard day left him at 1,028 yards for the season with two games still remaining.
And Lacy did it all on a gimpy right ankle that he injured the week before against the Falcons and appeared to aggravate in the second half against the Cowboys.
“Eddie was a featured focus for us,” McCarthy said. “I think that was evident just the way we started the game and the way we stayed after it in the second half.”