On an individual level, Packers running back and New Orleans-area native Eddie Lacy did not disappoint his supporters who went to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday night to watch his first game there as a pro.
Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) carries over a fallen New Orleans Saints free safety Rafael Bush (25) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
Lacy had 182 yards from scrimmage against the Saints — 59 off 13 carries and 123 off eight catches. A screen pass he hauled in for a 67-yard gain set up a field goal that gave Green Bay a 10-7 lead in the first quarter.
But in the end, it was far from enough as the Saints (3-4) trounced the Packers (5-3) by a score of 44-23 to ruin Lacy’s homecoming; and his personal brilliance was of no consolation.
“It’s always great to come back home and play a game,” said Lacy, whose Packers had won four straight before their ill-fated jaunt to New Orleans. “But I wasn’t happy with the result — we’re a much better football team than that.”
Lacy’s ties to southeastern Louisiana are famously deep. He hails from the community of Gretna just outside New Orleans’ West Bank section; and, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his family’s home in 2005, he finished high school at Dutchtown in Geismar, where he was a highly-recruited running back.
Lacy played for former LSU coach Nick Saban at Alabama in college, and he was teammates with Saints running back Mark Ingram for a season there. Lacy was part of two BCS titles for the Crimson Tide and redshirted for a third championship between 2010 and 2013.
One of those championships was clinched at the Superdome at the expense of LSU (where his half-brother, Donovan Grayson, used to play linebacker): in 2012, when Lacy was a sophomore.
Lacy declared for the draft in the spring of 2013, and the Packers chose him in the second round. He rewarded them in his first season in Green Bay with 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns off 284 carries; 257 yards on 35 pass receptions; a Pro Bowl berth; and the Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy as the Packers qualified for the playoffs.
Midway through his second season in Green Bay, Lacy has 637 yards from scrimmage and four rushing touchdowns. The Packers had a more than viable shot at a fifth-straight win when facing a Saints team that dropped four of its first six games this year; but, after playing to a 16-16 halftime stalemate, Green Bay was intercepted twice and lost the ball a third time on downs.
The Saints got 21 points off the interceptions and the turnover on downs to vanquish the Packers.
“We started the game … good, but then we had some turnovers, and that can’t happen,” Lacy said. “It’s how you respond, and that’s something we didn’t do a great job doing. It’s a real long season , and we can’t let the outcome from today affect us for the rest of the year.”
Nonetheless, that didn’t mean Lacy left the Superdome without making a lasting impression Sunday night.
“He was behind me … at Alabama — can you believe that?” said Ingram, who rushed for a career-high 172 yards as well as a touchdown against Green Bay. “He had a great game — just shows you what type of playmaker he is.”