Ezekiel Elliott killed the Packers #1-ranked run defense back in October. After giving up only 171 rushing yards through 4 games, Green Bay came crashing down to earth as Elliott had 157 in that game.
The Packers have learned a few lessons they can use in meeting #2.
“What separates him from a lot of rookies is his vision,” said linebacker Clay Matthews. “He does a great job of kind of finding the holes and being patient.”
“You see him following his massive offensive line,” said rookie linebacker Blake Martinez. “Next thing you know he’s waiting in the backfield three seconds and then the hole opens up.”
“He runs through creases, which is something I always look for on film,” said coach Mike McCarthy. “He doesn’t run through holes. The difference in that is he’s coming out as it opens, he’s not waiting for it to open up and then run through it. That in itself leads to a very instinctive player.”
The Packers must rally hats to the ball because Ezekiel Elliott gained more than half of his yards the first time around after contact.
“You know it is everybody’s job to run to the football this week,” said defensive back Micah Hyde.
“You have to gang tackle,” said rookie defensive lineman Kenny Clark. “You have to bend him back. He is a hard runner and once one guy gets there, everyone has to go and knock him back.”
Will Elliott be rested a rusty? He hasn’t played since Week 16 as Dallas had the one seed locked up early.
The last rookie rusher to lead the league in the regular season, Edgerrin James in 1999, fell flat on his face after a playoff bye week that year, rushing 20 times for only 56 yards as his team lost.