Green Bay struggled to get the running game going last week against Jacksonville. The Packers were only able to run for 66 yards, averaging a poor 2.5 yards per carry. The lack of a running game caused the passing game to struggle as well, with Aaron Rodgers only passing for 186 yards.
That all changed today against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Packers were able to run for an impressive 176 yards on the day. This was the most running yards for Green Bay since October 25, 2009 against the Cleveland Browns. The contributions to the run game came from multiple people.
Alex Green was able to get the ball moving more effectively this week. After averaging only 2.9 per carry before this game, he was able to run for 4.8 today. Green got going quickly in the first quarter when he was able to break away for a 21-yard run.
James Starks finally got to see some significant carries this week after being slowly reintegrated into the offense. Starks missed the beginning of the season due to injury. Starks was able to get 17 carries for 61 yards. Other than a frightening fumble that Rodgers was able to jump on, Starks played well enough to contribute to the running game in a big way.
Rodgers was able to pick up some yards with his feet as well. While his mobility is no longer a secret, he is still able to surprise defenses when he takes off. He ran for 33 yards on the day, including a big 25-yard scramble in the first quarter.
Randall Cobb was given a couple of carries again this week, and he took advantage yet again. On his three carries, he ran for 29 yards. His versatility gives defensive coordinators headaches, with his ability to catch and run.
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All of these contributions to the running game directly helped the passing game. With Jennings out and Nelson leaving after an injury early in the game, the run game helped open up the field for Rodgers. He was able to throw for four scores today, with two to Cobb, one to James Jones and a long one to Tom Crabtree.
The pass to Crabtree probably sums up best how important the big day on the ground was. Since the Packers had a lead and were effectively running, they were able to draw in the defense with a play action, and Crabtree was able to get behind the safety for a 72-yard score.
This was a big game for the Packers. They were able to comfortably win, and finally established a solid run game. If they can continue to run this well, the Packers could become even more deadly.