GREEN BAY – James Starks had never scored two touchdowns in an NFL game before.
He needed just one quarter to do it on Sunday.
Starks scored on a 5-yard pass and a career-long 65-yard run as the Packers took the early lead in their eventual 27-20 victory over the Chargers at Lambeau Field.
“I’m ready at all times,” Starks said. “I don’t care if I’m coming in in the second (quarter) or the first. I’m just ready whenever.”
Starks was in on the Packers’ first play from scrimmage and burst through the line for a 25-yard run. He capped that drive with the TD reception on a shovel pass.
His 65-yarder occurred on his third carry later in the quarter when he started left, came back to the right and suddenly had a ton of open space.
“I was pushing the pile, and I spun out of the pile and there was nobody there,” he said. “It was a free lane and I tried to use my speed to get out there.”
Starks finished with 10 carries for 112 yards, his first 100-yard rushing day since Week 2 of 2013. With Eddie Lacy being used sparingly (four carries, three yards), Starks had runs of four, seven and five yards on a late third-quarter drive that ended with a TD pass to James Jones to break a 17-all tie.
“The offensive line was doing a great job, giving me holes to pick from, breaking tackles,” Starks said. “Even the receivers were getting on their guys, doing the extra, to spring it loose.”
Janis steps in: The Packers lost rookie receiver Ty Montgomery to an ankle injury in the second quarter, which led to more offensive snaps for second-year pro Jeff Janis.
“I didn’t really think about it too much,” Janis said. “I just said all right, it’s time to go. Try to execute, just like in practice and try to go out there and make plays.”
He did. Three snaps after Montgomery left, Janis hauled in a 46-yard pass from QB Aaron Rodgers that led to a Mason Crosby field goal for a 17-3 Packers lead.
Then, midway through the fourth quarter, Rodgers improvised on a scramble and found a crossing Janis with a backhanded flip pass. Janis turned on the jets and gained 33 yards in all, getting the offense into the red zone on a drive that also produced a field goal, Green Bay’s final points on the day.
Janis said Rodgers can be “unpredictable” like that, but he’s getting used to it the more he practices with him. After the fourth-quarter catch-and-run, Janis also drew a defensive holding call on Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers that kept that drive alive momentarily.
“When you get in the game and you’re able to make a couple plays with him, it really helps your confidence and helps his trust to make him look your way again,” said Janis, whose 79 receiving yards were by far a career high.
On special teams, he added a coverage tackle and nearly blocked a punt, though he wasn’t flagged when his arm hit punter Mike Scifres’ leg because the officials ruled Janis was blocked into him.
Johnnie on the spot: The Packers avoided a near-disaster early in the fourth quarter when Lacy fumbled inside the Green Bay 30-yard line. Offensive lineman T.J. Lang was able to recover it despite arriving to the pile a tad later than others.
“It looked like one of their players tried to jump on it and he couldn’t secure it, and it just fell right in front of me,” Lang said. “I kind of belly-flopped on it.”
Lang started and played the whole game at his customary right guard spot. He had exited last week’s game with a knee injury and was expected to wear a brace in this game, but he didn’t, saying he had a “pretty thick tape job” instead.
“Once you get that adrenaline pumping on game day, you start feeling a little less pain,” Lang said. “I felt pretty good. Didn’t have any setbacks, which was the most important thing.”
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