EDDIE LACY ran for a touchdown and caught one of Aaron Rodgers' three touchdown passes, and the Green Bay Packers built a 24-point lead before holding off the visiting Atlanta Falcons for a 43-37 victory last night.

The Packers (10-3) earned their fifth consecutive victory to stay a game up on Detroit in the NFC North. Atlanta dropped to 5-8, but remained in a first-place tie with New Orleans in the woeful NFC South.

Julio Jones had a career-best 259 yards receiving for the Falcons before leaving with a hip injury. Jones had a 22-yard touchdown catch in a 20-point fourth quarter that helped Atlanta cut into Green Bay's big lead. The Falcons scored 30 points in the second half.

Matt Ryan's 2-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas with 2:15 left got Atlanta within six.

But the Packers recovered the ensuing onside kick. James Starks' 41-yard run with 1:37 left to the Atlanta 6 effectively ended the Falcons' upset hopes.

Rodgers finished 24-for-26 for 327 yards with no interceptions and a passer rating of 123.3. Ryan was 24-for-39 for 375 yards with four TDs and one interception, with a rating of 116.9.


* Kansas City safety Eric Berry has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and will begin chemotherapy for what doctors called a "very treatable and potentially curable" form of cancer.

Berry had been undergoing tests at Emory University in Atlanta since an MRI exam nearly 2 weeks ago showed a mass on the right side of his chest. At the time, doctors were still uncertain whether the mass was cancerous, but further testing revealed the lymphoma.

* Brian Hoyer's poor play in Sunday's loss to Indianapolis has Cleveland coach Mike Pettine on the verge of giving rookie Johnny Manziel his first NFL start against Cincinnati.

"I think it's natural to lean the other way, given the results," Pettine said yesterday. "I still want to make sure we do our due diligence and talk to everybody involved."

In other Manziel news, Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis called the Cleveland rookie "a midget" during a radio interview last night. Speaking on a weekly Bengals show on WLW-AM in Cincinnati, Lewis was asked if the uncertainty about Cleveland's quarterback situation affected their preparation for a game Sunday in Cleveland. Browns coach Mike Pettine hasn't decided if the 6-foot Manziel will replace struggling starter Brian Hoyer and make his first NFL start against the Bengals.

"No, it doesn't," Lewis said. "It doesn't at all. You'll get a little bit more movement if Manziel's the quarterback, the thing that they did against (last week against) Buffalo. But other than that, no, it doesn't impact you at all. You've got to go defend the offense, you don't defend the player."

As one of the program's hosts began asking another question, Lewis interrupted and said, "particularly a midget."

Through the team's publicity department, Lewis later apologized for the comment.

* Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III could be starting again even if Colt McCoy is healthy. It would be the fifth QB change for first-year coach Jay Gruden.

Gruden said he will await the outcome of tests on McCoy's sprained neck before deciding on a starter for the upcoming game against the Giants. The coach said Griffin would be the choice "right now" if McCoy can't play, then left open the possibility of going with Griffin regardless of the medical report.

* Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams isn't backing away from his criticism of NFL officials. "I don't care if I do get fined," Williams said. Williams took issue with a fist bump between two officials after Denver running back C.J. Anderson scored his second of three touchdowns in the Broncos' 24-17 win Sunday.

After the game, Williams expressed his displeasure on Twitter, by accusing the officials of teaming up with the Broncos.

Williams linked a video of the fist bump and wrote: "No excuse for my performance but we can't win playing 16 vs 11 thought I seen it all Smh (shake my head)."

The league had no problem with the gesture, which came after line judge John Hussey and umpire Carl Paganelli consulted to determine whether Anderson had crossed the goal line before his knee was down.

"It was an acknowledgement of good mechanics between the two officials involved in making the call," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said.

* Chicago placed receiver Brandon Marshall on injured reserve because of rib and lung injuries.

* San Diego punter Mike Scifres might be out for the season with a broken left clavicle.

* The Tennessee Titans say they are aware police are investigating a sexual-assault allegation involving defensive lineman Sammie Hill.

Also, Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger is doubtful against the Jets after aggravating his sprained right shoulder.

* Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano said receiver Reggie Wayne has been playing with a torn left triceps.