Rodgers, Starks lead Pack to 34-16 Win Over NinersPosted:Dec 5th, 2010 9:21 pm
18 carries for 73 yards. For a Packer running back. After nearly two seasons on the sidelines, Packer rookie James Starks finally put on a uniform and was very impressive in his first NFL action, giving the Pack some tough yards on the ground and giving the offense hope of a more balanced attack in the tough final four games on the schedule.
Expect to see Starks get the lion's share of the carries the rest of the way if he can stay healthy. He hit the hole hard, ran with toughness and looked like the kind of guy who can burst through a hole and break some tackles along the way.
As has been the case a lot this season, the Packers came out of the locker room at halftime and turned a close game into a laugher. A late second quarter defensive meltdown had narrowed a 14-6 lead to 14-13 at intermission. But Aaron Rodgers struck quickly to Donald Driver, whose tough run after the catch was the play of the game. Another TD on the next drive and the Pack had its cushion and the 49ers were done.
There were areas for concern. The defense surrendered chunks of yards and big plays to tight end Vernon Davis. There were penalties on special teams again and the offense was very slow starting. They burned two timeouts on the opening drive--an impressive drive that chewed up half the quarter, but resulted in no points when Mason Crosby missed a short field goal.
But in the end, the Packers had too many offensive playmakers. And without Frank Gore the 49ers didn't scare Dom Capers and the Packers defense on the ground.
So the Packers improve to 8-4 with two road games ahead. The Lions are next and they led the Bears for much of their game on Sunday, despite playing with third string QB Drew Stanton. A Devin Hester punt return gave the Bears the spark they needed. The Lions have lost their last 19 division games, but this will not be a gimme, especially with the players potentially looking ahead to a Sunday night game in New England the following week.
With wins by the Eagles, Giants, Bears and Saints the Packers cannot afford a slip up as they continue to jockey for playoff positioning as they begin the final quarter of their season.