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Cowboys run defense gets beaten down

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Knowing Eddie Lacy was effectively benched last week against the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey figured the Green Bay Packers would feature the running game.

“Lacy’s been in the doghouse, so he felt like he had to prove himself,” Mincey said.

Lacy ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in the Packers’ 28-7 win Sunday against the Cowboys. James Starks added 71 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

The Packers were so good on the ground, Aaron Rodgers had to throw for only 218 yards, but he got into the running act with a key 11-yard scramble on a third-and-9 play in the fourth quarter.

The Packers ran 44 times for 230 yards. They lost 3 yards on the final two plays when backup quarterback Scott Tolzien took a knee to end the game.

In the three previous games the Cowboys allowed 273 yards on the ground on 67 carries. Before Sunday the only back to go for more than 100 yards against the Cowboys was Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman, who had 141 yards but needed 30 carries in Week 3.

The last time the Cowboys came close to giving up so many yards on the ground was Thanksgiving last year, when the Philadelphia Eagles had 256 yards on 45 carries in a 33-10 victory.

“It was just about us tackling, wrapping up, gang tackling,” defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said.

It was actually about the Cowboys not doing any of those things for most of the game.

The 234-pound Lacy was able to run through and over tacklers consistently from the beginning of the game to the end. He had 18 yards on his first four carries after putting up 4 yards on five carries against the Lions. He had 50 yards on 11 carries in the first half.

In the fourth quarter, Lacy had nine carries for 51 yards, including a 24-yarder in which he carried defenders to the goal line. With Lacy wearing them down, Starks ran by them. He had four carries for 52 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 30-yard touchdown.

“Just got to hit him low and make sure you wrap,” safety Barry Church said. “That’s one thing we weren’t doing. We were hitting him low. We were hitting, but he was able to slide off of us and the conditions were perfect for him. It was kinda like a perfect storm for him. He was able slip off us and he’s a big back to begin with, so it’ll be hard to bring him down.

“Just got to find a way to be better than that.”