Teams load the box vs. Packers' run game

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It did not take long to figure out how teams were going to defend the Green Bay Packers without quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The plan against them the past two weeks has been the same: load the box with defenders and gang up on the run. During that time, the Packers have faced seven or more defenders in the box nearly twice as often as they did during the first eight games of the season, when opposing defensive coordinators had game planned for Rodgers.

And it has worked.

Since they rushed for a season-high 199 yards against the Chicago Bears in a loss on Nov. 4, when Rodgers left in the first quarter with his broken collarbone, the Packers have combined to rush for just 154 yards in their last two games -- losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. The Giants held the Packers to a season-low 55 yards rushing.

Predictably, the Eagles and Giants combined to play nearly half of their defensive snaps -- 48.4 percent to be exact -- with seven or more defenders in the box against the Packers. In their first eight games, the Packers saw seven or more defenders in the box on just 25.5 percent of their total offensive snaps, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“We knew it was gonna be tough going into it,” Packers running back Eddie Lacy said after Sunday’s 27-13 loss at the Giants. "They were going to have a lot of people in the box, but we tried the best we could. We went out there and played hard for 60 minutes, but it just didn’t work out well.”

The Giants hit Lacy at or behind the line of scrimmage on 10 of his 14 carries, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Lacy averaged just 1.9 yards on those 14 carries. His 27 yards rushing was his lowest of the season other than the Week 2 game against the Washington Redskins -- a game in which he was knocked out because of a first-half concussion.

“We did not run the ball probably as well as we would have liked, didn’t have enough attempts at the plate,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.