Driver Has Career-Best Day


MINNEAPOLIS - The Packers weren't likely to make their living running the ball against the league's No. 1 rush defense on Sunday.

Donald Driver made sure they didn't have to.

Driver turned in a monster day against Minnesota, catching six passes for a career-high 191 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown just before halftime that gave Green Bay the lead and the momentum for good in its 23-17 victory.

"It's amazing how he's able to turn what should be 3-yard, 5-yard completions into 70-yard touchdowns," fullback William Henderson said. "And let's give him credit, because he's having that year where people should look at him for possibly Pro Bowl honors, and bigger honors than that."

Driver is certainly making a case for that. He now has 56 catches for 771 yards and four touchdowns this season, but it's the way he comes through when his team needs him most that makes him so impressive.

Driver looked unstoppable from the start, taking advantage of a Minnesota secondary without cornerback Fred Smoot, who was inactive after missing practice all week following his half-brother's death in a car accident.

Driver converted three consecutive third downs on the Packers' first scoring drive with catches of 27, 22 and 20 yards that helped set up a chip shot field goal.

"They left the middle of the field open and we took advantage of it," Driver said. "Those guys played cover-2 the whole night. The middle linebacker didn't get as deep as he (should) when we watched film on him, so I knew we had the opportunity to beat him."

The 82-yard touchdown was another example of how open the middle was. Driver found a seam between the hash marks, caught the quick throw from Brett Favre and split Minnesota's safeties to go the distance.

"As a receiver, when you see (the middle look like) that lining up, you're like, 'I hope I get this ball right away,'" fellow receiver Greg Jennings said. "So I'm pretty sure he saw that from the snap."

The big play gave Driver 151 yards by halftime, and then he added 30 yards to his total without even catching a pass.

On a third-and-10 near midfield in the third quarter, Jennings caught a 12-yard pass on a crossing route and was about to be tackled by Antoine Winfield when he spotted Driver to his right and lateraled the ball to him. Driver scampered another 30 yards to get Green Bay in position for a field goal.

{sportsad300}"Normally I'd be blocking, but on that one I was still behind him so I knew I couldn't get a block for him and he pitched it to me," Driver said. "We used to do it in practice and then Coach stopped it, but it worked in the game."

Added Jennings: "He said he was calling for it. I didn't hear him calling for it, but I'm glad we were on the same page."

Driver certainly continues to be on the same page with Favre. Driver's career-high in receiving yards topped the 162 yards he had in this same Metrodome on Christmas Eve two seasons ago, and the 82-yard touchdown pass was Favre's longest since an 84-yarder to Driver, also at the Metrodome, on Nov. 17, 2002.

Favre and Driver have now connected for 30 touchdown passes, moving the duo into sole possession of seventh place on the franchise's all-time list. Two more and they'll tie for fifth place with the Lynn Dickey-James Lofton and Favre-Robert Brooks tandems.

"It's exciting. I love that guy," Driver said of Favre. "I know what he's thinking, he knows what I'm thinking. That's a great combination. I'm just glad when it's all said and done I'll be part of his legacy."

And perhaps vice versa.

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