Entering Sunday’s showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, all the talk was about how Green Bay would stop Adrian Peterson. Yet, when the clock struck zero, the game’s most productive back was not Peterson, it was Eddie Lacy.
All season the Packers have been waiting for Lacy to emerge and whether it was due to health or some other factor, he simply couldn’t get things going. But after losing his starting job and being doubted by many in the Packers faithful — Lacy reminded us all against Minnesota just how good he can be and how important he is to the Packers offense.
Forget Aaron Rodgers — Sunday’s offensive improvement was all about Lacy.
After seemingly disappearing from the ranks of the upper-echelon running backs in the NFL overnight, Lacy made a glorious return to the stage against the Vikings with an impressive 22-carry, 100-yard performance.
100 yards on 22 carries may not sound amazing but against a tough Minnesota defense in a must-win game — it was essential for a Green Bay offense that is still not quite in sync in the passing game. But more than that, Lacy’s performance proved that the Packers can still out-physical opponents and that is something that will come in handy during the next six weeks.
Led by head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings want to be the big kid on the block, they want to control the line of scrimmage and dominate their opponents physically. That’s Zimmer’s style and that’s the Vikings M.O.
Yet in Green Bay’s 30-13 win — the exact opposite happened. Green Bay dominated Minnesota — up front — on both sides of the ball. In a huge NFC North showdown, Green Bay beat the Vikings at their own game and amazingly the most productive back on the field wasn’t Peterson — it was Lacy.
Lacy’s resurgence was huge for the Packers offense. It kept Green Bay in manageable situations and with nine runs of five yards or more plus another for 27, the Packers were able to keep the Vikings off-balance.
For all the struggles of Rodgers and his wide receivers recently, the real key to the offensive turn around in Green Bay might be Lacy and the offensive line. The truth is that Jordy Nelson isn’t coming back so it would be foolish to expect the Packers to throw it as well as they have in the past.
That means Green Bay needs to rely on its running game and after Sunday’s performance, the Packers once again have the confidence to know that when needed they can ground and pound their way to the winner’s circle.
If Lacy is able to maintain this form going forward — if he can be the bruising, punishing, spinning, whirling-dervish that he was in the 17-point win over Minnesota — then the Green Bay offense will be just fine.
More than fine in fact.