Packers discover a running game with rookie Starks
The Green Bay Packers waited until the wild-card round of the playoffs to dispel the notion they lack a running game.
Rookie James Starks, a sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Buffalo, ran for 123 yards on 23 carries in the Packers 21-16 upset of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, putting himself in the franchise’s record book. He surpassed Travis Williams for the club record for the most rushing yards by a rookie in a playoff game. Williams had 88 in a 1967 meeting with the Los Angeles Rams.
The emergence of Starks suddenly balanced the Packers’ play calling and kept the Eagles honest. It was the second time Green Bay has had a back top 100 yards this season. Starks had just 101 yards on 21 carries during the season, and he spent more than half of it on the physically unable to perform list as he suffered a badly pulled hamstring muscle during the offseason.
"I really take my hat off to everybody on this team because it is not just what I did," a beaming Starks said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The offensive line and the receivers did a great job to make this happen. People got body on body and really gave me the holes to run through."
Maybe you can expect to see more of Starks on Saturday when the Packers face the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
"James was a difference-maker for us, just the way he was running the ball," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy. "He's a gifted athlete. He's a longer-levered individual and he falls forward. I just love running backs that fall forward, especially when they're 6 feet 2."
Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs
Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune