EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Don’t sleep on Donald Driver.
That was the message the Packers and the veteran receiver sent on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, as Driver enjoyed a two-touchdown game for the first time in six years in helping the Packers to a 38-35 win over the Giants to remain unbeaten.
“I just had fun today,” said Driver, who scored on short TD passes in the second and fourth quarters. “When the opportunities come you have to make the best of them, and my opportunity came today and I wasn’t going to let it slip away.”
Taking on a lesser role without complaint in a passing offense that features Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley, Driver showed he’s still got plenty to offer. He came into Sunday’s game with just two touchdowns on the season and no more than four catches in any given game, but he doubled his touchdown total to match the four he had last season.
Driver caught only four passes on Sunday, for 34 yards, but he found the end zone twice for the first time since Nov. 21, 2005, at Lambeau Field against Minnesota.
“D-Drive had a great game today,” Finley said. “I love him to death.”
On his first score, with 1:10 left in the second quarter, Driver was left all alone in the end zone when it appeared New York’s coverage was focused on Nelson. The throw was a little low, but he made sure to secure the 13-yard catch by tumbling to the ground.
“They don’t worry about me,” Driver joked. “You’re old and they don’t worry about you any more. They left me wide open.”
His second score was vintage Driver, as the 13-year veteran stayed alive in the back of the end zone as quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambled to his right. Rodgers fired to the sideline and Driver made a picture-perfect tip-toe catch for a key score with 3:34 left in the game that gave the Packers a 35-27 lead.
The play was reviewed, and Driver nearly stepped out of the back of the end zone before coming back to make the catch, but he stayed in – both there and as he made the 7-yard grab.
“I can get a little excited sometimes, and I pretty much ran out of breath picking him up and hitting him and messing with him,” Jennings said. “Huge catch. That’s why he’s still here.”
Driver wasn’t a factor on the game-winning drive, but the march was nonetheless an example of how balanced the Packers’ passing attack is.
Rodgers completed four straight passes, to four different players, to get the Packers in position for Mason Crosby’s game-winning 30-yard field goal.
He hit Finley for 24 yards, Nelson for 27, rookie running back Brandon Saine for minus-1 and then Jennings for 18. The four plays took 55 of the 58 seconds the Packers had when the drive started, and the whole time the Giants never knew where the ball was going next.
“That’s what makes us difficult to stop,” Nelson said. “That’s the main problem teams have against us is who to match up with. Right down the field, four different guys. Everyone’s expected to make plays.”
No receiver topped 100 yards for the Packers but three came close. Jennings and Nelson finished with 94 yards apiece, and Finley added 87.
Despite a few drops here and there during the day, the receiving corps’ confidence was sky-high with the game on the line.
“Nothing was really said,” Jennings said. “Guys pretty much knew. This is it. Let’s go get it. There was nothing that needed to be said. This is the type of team we’ve created.”
A team that can count on any receiver in any situation, even the oldest of the bunch who quietly leads and remains as reliable as ever.
“Even though his role is diminished a little bit he still stays positive, and that’s what we need,” Jennings said of his good friend. “When his number is called, just like anybody else he’s going to make the play.” Additional coverage - Dec. 4