Packers' running game looks legitimate

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The true measure of a running game can often be found in situations where it’s imperative to run the ball -- early in the game and late.

The Green Bay Packers did both in Sunday’s 19-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

They established their ground game from the start, when Eddie Lacy opened the game with consecutive runs of 10 and 37 yards.

“We came in wanting to run the ball,” said Lacy, who rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries. “We knew that we could get into the flow a little so we can get the cut backs. We just stuck with it and were able to have a good day on the road.”

And when they needed to run the clock out in the fourth quarter, they did that, too. On the final drive, Lacy sealed the game with a 4-yard run on third-and-2 that ensured the Ravens would not get the ball back in the final minute.

After losing receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones to first-half injuries, it took the Packers out of their preferred personnel package -- their three-receiver set. In the second half, they called design runs on 59 percent of their second-half plays, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That was the Packers’ second-highest designed rush percentage for a half in the past three seasons.

“It was important for us to run the football because we didn’t have our three-receiver set anymore,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We obviously had [tight end] Jermichael [Finley], who is a receiver-type tight end, but we ran it good on the first possession, kind of went away from it for a little bit and then it was fun to see us finish with the football. It was a tough situation. They’ve got basically four timeouts, counting the two-minute warning, and we converted two big first downs.”

A week after missing his first 100-yard rushing game by 1 yard, Lacy easily surpassed that mark against a stout Ravens front. With 140 yards rushing as a team against the Ravens, the Packers have averaged 160.3 yards rushing over their past four games.

Four games doesn’t make a season, but it’s starting to look like the Packers’ running game is for real.

“We’ve put together four straight weeks of solid ground game, and it’s something that obviously we put a lot of hard work into during the week,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “To have that pay off game after game on Sundays, you start building on things like that. I don’t know how many games it takes, but we feel good about where we are.”