Game Notes: Driver Nabs Another Team Record


DETROIT - The milestones keep coming for Donald Driver.

Already the Packers' all-time leader in pass receptions, Driver on Thursday surpassed 50 receptions in a season for a team-record eighth time as the Packers beat the Lions 34-12. He had been tied at seven 50-catch seasons with Sterling Sharpe and James Lofton.

Needing four catches to get to 50 coming in, Driver finished with seven receptions for a season-high 142 yards, his second straight big game on Thanksgiving. Two years ago in Detroit, Driver posted 10 catches for 147 yards to help beat the Lions, and Thursday was his highest single-game yardage output since then.

After the game, Driver was awarded the FOX sports "Galloping Gobbler" trophy as the player of the game.

"Thanksgiving is a great stage to play on, and this is the first time I'm able to win the turkey," Driver said. "I'm happy to win it for the first time. Gobble, gobble. I'm happy."

Driver got his day started with a big play in the first quarter, hauling in a 68-yard reception to set up the Packers' first touchdown. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had ample time to throw and scanned the field a couple of times before launching a deep ball to Driver that traveled at least 70 yards in the air.

"Just catch the ball, that's all you can think," Driver said of his thoughts as the long ball made its way to him. "Just focus and catch. Regardless who's around you, you have to make that play. I just kept running. (Rodgers) gave me a play at the line and I just ran down the field and never looked back.

"I wish he would have made it 99, that would have been perfect. But I'll take a 70-yarder any day."

Driver wasn't done, though. He began the second half with a 45-yard catch deep down the middle, which was his 50th reception on the year. He finished that drive with a 7-yard TD catch on a play where he and Greg Jennings, both lined up to the right, switched routes at the line of scrimmage because of the way the defense lined up, and Rodgers threaded the pass in there just beyond the fingertips of cornerback William James.

"He almost tipped it," Driver said. "I just kept my eyes on it. But it was really supposed to be Greg running that route. Greg switched with me."

Driver leads the team with 53 catches for 845 yards and five touchdowns this season. He needs just 155 yards for his seventh 1,000-yard season and sixth in a row, which would extend two team records he already owns.

Bunch of big ones

Driver's two long receptions were two of six pass plays of 19 yards or longer Rodgers completed in the game. He also hit Jennings for 33, Ryan Grant for 27 on a shovel pass, James Jones for 21 and a TD, and Jordy Nelson for 19. The six big plays accounted for 213 of Rodgers' 348 passing yards.

The Grant pass was another example of a timely adjustment at the line of scrimmage. The play was supposed to be a screen to Grant to the left, but the Lions showed a blitz coming from that side.

Grant said he gave a check to tight end Donald Lee to block Grant's assignment so he could get out into the flat quicker for the pass, and Rodgers immediately scrambled left and shoveled the ball to Grant rather than throw a normal overhand screen.

Grant then got good blocks from center Scott Wells and left guard Daryn Colledge to clear the hole for the 27-yard gain.

"I hoped that (Rodgers) saw strong-side blitz, and when I got out I said, 'I hope he's moving to the left,'" Grant said. "He found a window and got it to me. That was a great play. Way to get it done by A-Rod."

All-out effort

On the final play of the first half, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was going to try to throw a 'Hail Mary' to the end zone from around midfield. But linebacker Clay Matthews didn't let him.

{sportsad300}Matthews chased the scrambling Stafford in three different directions on the play and finally drilled him for a blind-side sack just before Stafford could get rid of the ball.

"Just an effort play," Matthews said. "You know the quarterback is going to set up and take his time throwing the ball. It's just whoever wants it more. I had an opportunity early in the season to get one of those, and I was going to make sure I got it this time."

The sack was Matthews' fifth on the season, moving him into the team lead in that category. He also moved closer to the team's rookie sack record, which is eight, held by Tim Harris (1986) and Vonnie Holliday (1998). Harris was the last Packers rookie to lead the team in sacks for a season.

Hands up

Packers defensive linemen have had a knack for battling balls at the line of scrimmage lately. They chalked up two more on Thursday, as Johnny Jolly and B.J. Raji both deflected Stafford throws at the line.

It was the third straight game Jolly has knocked at least one pass down. He had two in each of the last two games and leads the defensive linemen with eight on the season.

Raji's was his first, and he joins Ryan Pickett and Cullen Jenkins with one apiece.

Injury update

Left tackle Chad Clifton left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and was replaced by rookie T.J. Lang. Receiver Jordy Nelson (shoulder) and cornerback Brandon Underwood (hamstring) also left the game. The severity of the injuries wasn't known.

Tight end Jermichael Finley and Jenkins both had the wind knocked out of them during the game but returned. Finley took a wicked hit to the head from Detroit safety Louis Delmas that drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

Among the Packers' inactives for the game was newly acquired cornerback Josh Bell. Cornerback Trevor Ford, signed from the practice squad on Wednesday, was active and made his NFL debut. He recorded a special teams tackle.

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