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Key to the game: With heavy heart, Dontayvion Wicks helps propel Packers to postseason

Rookie receiver honors late Virginia teammate’s memory with two-touchdown game

WR Dontayvion Wicks
WR Dontayvion Wicks

GREEN BAY – As Dontayvion Wicks leapt into the Lambeau Field crowd, the Packers' rookie receiver tilted his head back and looked up into the night sky.

That one was for Lavel.

A crucial regular-season finale for Green Bay held an even greater meaning for Wicks. The rookie's two-touchdown performance not only catapulted the Packers back into the postseason with their 17-9 win over the Bears but also honored the memory of late Virginia receiver Lavel Davis Jr. on what would have been his 22nd birthday.

Davis was one of three Virginia football players killed in a school shooting in November 2022. Wicks has previously written Davis' name – along with the names of the late D'Sean Perry and Devin Chandler – on his cleats during his breakout rookie season.

"I had a heavy heart coming into the day, but I knew he'd be playing through me when I'm out there," Wicks said. "It just gave me that motivation, the extra chip on my shoulder to go out and make big plays. To celebrate his birthday and making it to the playoffs, it was a two-for-one."


Davis was on the forefront of Wicks' mind all morning, but the rookie fifth-round pick channeled those emotions into a statement-making performance against Chicago.

Knowing a win guaranteed Green Bay a playoff berth, Wicks battled through a chest injury that had him listed as questionable to lead the Packers with six receptions for 61 yards and the two scores Sunday.

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound receiver opened the game with a 19-yard catch on the Packers' first possession and then put Green Bay on the board with a 10-yard touchdown on its second offensive series.

It happened after Wicks came free from his one-on-one matchup across the back of the end zone and quarterback Jordan Love threaded a pass between two defenders on third-and-1 to give the Packers a 7-3 lead with 7 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first half.

Love went back to him on another critical third-and-3 on the opening possession of the third quarter, rocketing a slant to Wicks who powered in for the touchdown.

"He got it there," said Wicks with a laugh. "He seen it open fast and all I saw is his arm and the ball was on me. He put it there. He had my stomach hurting a little bit, but he made a play. That's our job to make plays for him."

Check out photos from the Week 18 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.

It's what Green Bay has come to expect from Wicks, who came out of nowhere to finish his rookie season as the Packers' third-leading receiver (39 catches for 581 yards and four touchdowns).

He's played a critical role for a Green Bay offense riddled with injuries at the skill positions for most of the year. Even Wicks was unable to go last Sunday in Minnesota due to a chest injury suffered before halftime in a 33-30 win over Carolina the week prior.

That unfortunate trend continued against the Bears. Already playing without Christian Watson (hamstring), the Packers lost Romeo Doubs in the first quarter to a chest injury on an incomplete pass in Chicago's end zone on Green Bay's opening drive.

Love and the young nucleus responded, with rookie and first-year receivers catching 22 of the quarterback's 27 completions. Rookie second-round pick Jayden Reed finished with a career-high 112 yards while recently promoted wideout Bo Melton had five catches for 62.

"We look at Rome as a leader. When he goes down, the other side probably got happy, but we got a lot of guys who want to step up as you all see," Wicks said. "Bo making plays, J-Reed making a lot of plays and Malik Heath getting in and making plays. Everybody can make a play. Everybody is capable. J-Love trusts us. We got out to practice and show that every week."

While relishing his role in helping propel the Packers to their fourth playoff appearance under Head Coach Matt LaFleur, the rookie receiver also took pride in honoring his friend and former teammate.

"I cried on the sideline after the second one. It was big time," said Wicks, referring to his third-quarter touchdown. "I helped the team, and I made some plays, and then gave glory to God and my brother."


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