GREEN BAY – Mike McCarthy said it himself Monday.
The Green Bay Packers coach was asked during his usual day-after-the-game press conference how important it was to have Eddie Lacy come back into the game during the second half of Sunday’s 22-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.
Lacy suffered a sprained ankle at the end of the first half but was re-taped and convinced team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie to let him return to the game by running and jumping on the sideline. McCarthy confirmed Monday that Lacy has a “sprained ankle.”
“Well, Eddie Lacy is our starting running back,” McCarthy replied. “It’s always important to have your starters on the field.”
Even, McCarthy explained, when there’s only a few seconds left in the half and you have the ball at your own 32-yard line.
After the Falcons’ fluky pick-six interception return for a touchdown made it 21-10, the Packers took possession after the ensuing kickoff at their own 32-yard line with 14 seconds left in the half. The Falcons had all three of their time outs.
On first down, the Packers ran a screen pass to Lacy, but Lacy tripped over guard Josh Sitton and Matt Flynn’s pass fell incomplete with 11 seconds to go.
On second down, Flynn threw a dump-off to Lacy in the right flat that was also incomplete with 4 seconds to go.
On third down, Lacy took a handoff out of the shotgun from Flynn, started toward left guard and then bounced outside. By the time he was tackled, the half had run out. As the Lambeau Field crowd was booing, Lacy was limping off the field, favoring his right ankle. James Starks opened the second half at running back when Lacy came out of the locker room late and spent the first series with McKenzie.
Asked about Lacy’s injury Monday, McCarthy said Lacy was doing rehabilitation work and “we’ll see how the week goes.” He added that it is "too early to tell" if Lacy will be ready for Sunday's game at Dallas.
However, he wasn’t willing to explain why he didn’t have Flynn kneel on the final plays of the half, although McCarthy intimated that the Falcons having all three of their timeouts was the primary reason.
“I’m not going to get into all that. Frankly, there’s a reason why you run the ball at the end of the half,” McCarthy said. “I’m comfortable with the call. I don’t call plays based on trying to get anybody hurt or not hurt.
“Running the football was the primary focus in the game plan.”
When it was pointed out that the Packers passed on the first two plays, McCarthy replied, “Look at the clock. There’s obviously, there’s field position, timeouts, things like that.”
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