CREATED Sep. 16, 2013
For all of the explosive fireworks courtesy of Aaron Rodgers arm in a convincing win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday, it took a trip in a time-travelling DeLorean to make it all possible.
My unsung hero of the game may not seem all that unsung...after all, James Starks finished with the Packers' first 100+ yard game in their last 45 outings, finishing with 145 yards and a touchdown.
More importantly, he set the stage for the offensive explosion that took place after Eddie Lacy left the game with a concussion after the sixth play from scrimmage.
With the running back stable already limited, our hero of the 2010 Super Bowl run entered the backfield and immediately proceeded to run pretty much the way he has since those glory days: three rushes for three yards.
Head coach Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers began slipping into their own old habits: eschewing the run and going to the shotgun hurry-up offense that has been boom-or-bust this season.
Even more concerning as the first quarter concluded were the three hard sacks Rodgers took, as well as the the two three-and-outs that took only 1:33 off the clock.
The danger, of course, being afraid to run the ball and putting Rodgers in the position to pass-pass-pass, while the defense would have to keep retaking the field only after a few minutes and get gassed-gassed-gassed.
It's a too-familiar script that looked ripe for the encore performance.
But then, McCarthy dusted off the old zone-blocking scheme that made Starks so successful and somehow lit a fire under the offensive line to execute it properly.
From that point on, Starks did what he once did so well: ran diagonally towards the line, made one sharp cut, and took it straight upfield.
Again and again.
The Redskins, who had been ready to play the blitz-zone package that had been so successful against the Packers last week, suddenly found themselves flailing to catch up with the old man who had found young legs once more.
By the end of the third quarter, the Packers had run up the score on Washington on a balanced attack featuring Starks on the ground exclusively.
Ahead 38-7, the Packers coasted the rest of the way as the Redskins imploded on nearly all fronts.
Rodgers may celebrate a record-tying day through the air, but without Starks establishing himself and forcing the Redskins defense to honor him, it could have been a very different day.
While the television commentators may have offered the theory that there might be a controversy in the backfield once Lacy returns to the practice field, I'm sure Starks knows his place on this team.
He's the veteran who is on the roster to do exactly what he did today: tutor the young running backs and step in to provide some stability when the unforeseen injury strikes.
Starks is a part of the glorious past of the Green Bay Packers, while Eddie Lacy is clearly the future.
But for one wonderful September Sunday, James Darell Starks got to revel in his own glory days, and allowed us to cheer along with him, feeling like it was 2010 all over again.