With the Packers holding just a 14-13 lead at halftime, Driver’s 61-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown on Green Bay’s opening drive, which included several broken tackles, was the start of a 20-point second half for Green Bay in the 34-16 victory over San Francisco.
“I thought Donald Driver’s touchdown was the biggest play in the game,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “I thought it ignited our football team. We needed that. We had some segments there in the first half where we weren’t as sharp as we needed to. We had some plays where the ball probably didn’t bounce our way or a call that didn’t go our way and that’s football.
“But I thought Donald Driver’s play was clearly the biggest play in the game and then we were able to take off from there.”
After a holding penalty on tight end Donald Lee put the Packers in second-and-16 at the Green Bay 39, quarterback Aaron Rodgers worked out of the shotgun and motioned Driver from the left side of the formation over to the right.
“Originally the formation was on the boundary,” Rodgers said. “We had three guys on the left side of the hash, and I knew that the play that was called wasn’t going to work if we stayed there. So I just kind of looked at 'Drive' and said, 'Hey, go this way.' He moved over, and once they had their defense aligned, I got us in a situation I thought would be a good situation for us.
“Two guys jumped Greg (Jennings), Donald was wide open, and made an incredible catch and run.”
Jennings was split out far right against cornerback Tarell Brown, with safety Dashon Goldson lined up across from Driver. Goldson left Driver when Jennings made a move inside, giving Driver an opening straight down the seam.
Rodgers found a wide-open Driver just inside the San Francisco 40, and then Driver spun away from a tackle attempt by safety Reggie Smith near the 25. Once he got away from Smith, he shook off a hit up high from Goldson. Driver then made a cut inside near the sideline at the 10 to elude cornerback Nate Clements, before plowing through Clements, Goldson and linebacker Ahmad Brooks near the pylon to get into the end zone.
“It was one of the best plays I’ve ever been a part of,” Rodgers said. “It was incredible. It’s something we talked about. That play was kind of an example of kind of the way things have been going the last few weeks for us on offense.
“When he was at about the 20, I was kind of thinking, ‘Go down, go down, don’t get drilled.’ And when he broke another tackle I was hoping to get it in the end zone. Like I said, one of the most amazing plays I’ve ever seen here.”
When asked to walk through the play by a group of reporters, Driver wasn’t able to provide much detail.
“I don’t know what happened,” Driver said. “All I know is that when I caught it I just started making moves. Unfortunately you don’t know what kind of moves you make until you watch the film. I just knew it was a big play. Everybody said it was a great play. When it was all said and done, I was just trying to get into the end zone.”
“When you don’t want to be denied, then no matter how many people you’ve got on your back, you can carry them, and that’s what I was doing.”
Driver’s touchdown catch was his longest reception since a 68-yard grab last season in Week 12 at Detroit, and part of a four-reception, 73-yard afternoon for the 12th-year wideout. The play was even more impressive considering he was battling a case of food poisoning.
Driver said he ate some wings that made him ill on Saturday, but he didn’t realize until early Sunday morning just how sick he was and came over to Lambeau Field earlier than usual to get treatment.
“I was struggling early on, but I was able to fight through it,” Driver said. “Now I am going home to get into bed and lie down. My stomach still hurts.”
Driver’s upset stomach isn’t the most serious ailment he has had to deal with this season, with a quadriceps injury originally sustained in practice leading up to the Week 6 contest vs. Miami hobbling him for several weeks. He would start the next three games despite the injury, but aggravated it in the first half of the Week 8 contest at the N.Y. Jets.
Driver was forced to sit out the next week against Dallas, his first game missed due to injury since 2003, before he returned after the bye at Minnesota. He posted a combined six receptions for 57 yards in the first two games back, and came into Sunday’s game with 34 receptions for 364 yards (10.7 avg.) and three touchdowns on the season.
As the Packers enter their stretch run, Driver’s play-making ability will surely be welcomed, and the veteran is confident he can still make an impact when the ball comes his way.
“One thing I do week in and week out, I can’t be bothered with all the situations,” Driver said. “I know how good I can play.
“You guys think I am 35 and I am done just because I haven’t gotten the opportunities. Today was an opportunity, and when I got the ball, I wanted to make the best of it. I think at the end of the day, all you guys shook your head and say, ‘Well, I guess he has still got it.’”