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Notebook: Big Day Means More Milestones For Driver


SAN FRANCISCO - Donald Driver etched his name in a few more places in the franchise record book on Sunday.

Turning in another stellar effort with nine catches for 160 yards in the 30-19 victory over San Francisco, Driver joined a couple of exclusive Green Bay receiving clubs.

With a 22-yard catch on a touchdown drive in the second quarter, Driver went over 1,000 yards receiving on the season for the fourth time in his career. He's one of only three Packers with as many as four overall 1,000-yard seasons, joining James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe, who both have five.

The 1,000-yard season is also the third straight for Driver, which ties the team record for consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with Lofton and Sharpe.

In addition, an 8-yard completion over the middle with time winding down in the first half was Driver's seventh catch of the game and the 400th of his career. He's now one of only six Packers in the 400 club, joining Sharpe, Lofton, Don Hutson, Boyd Dowler and Antonio Freeman.

A humble, seventh-round draft choice just fighting to make the team back in 1999, Driver recognizes the significance of his accomplishments but is by no means finished establishing his place in Packer history.

"I've wanted to be one of those guys the Green Bay Packers always remember," Driver said. "Coming in I knew Sterling, I knew James Lofton, I knew Don Hutson. I wanted to be a part of that tradition, and right now I'm a part of it.

"I'm just hoping when it's all said and done and my career is over in Green Bay that I can be the top receiver for the Green Bay Packers."

Driver finished the first half with seven catches for 86 yards to hit the milestones and then added a 68-yard TD grab on an improvised route in the third quarter. That marked Driver's 33rd TD reception from quarterback Brett Favre, tying the duo for fourth on the franchise's all-time list with the tandem of Cecil Isbell and Hutson.

Driver now has 1,103 receiving yards on the season and needs just 119 yards in the final three games to top his single-season career-high of 1,221, set last year.

First NFL TD, with an assist

Ruvell Martin's 36-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was his first NFL touchdown in the regular season, but he has to give fellow receiver Greg Jennings an assist.

As Favre executed a play fake and rolled to his left, he looked first in the short flat to Driver, who was double-covered. He then looked to Jennings on the over route, and Jennings was pointing deep to a wide-open Martin, who was waltzing uncovered toward the end zone. Martin made the easy catch to put the Packers ahead 7-3.

"He owes me half of that," Jennings said.

Martin actually scored his first NFL pre-season touchdown against the 49ers as well, while playing for the San Diego Chargers. He may never be that open near the end zone the rest of his career, and Favre was just glad he didn't mess up the throw.

"Greg's just one of those instinctive players, and I don't know if I've ever had a guy running downfield pointing to another guy who's open," Favre said.

"That was probably the hardest throw I've had to make all year, believe it or not. I'm sure it was a hard catch for Ruvell, too. Wide open. The last thing you want to do is overthrow him or underthrow him."

{sportsad300}Another milestone for Favre

In the first half, Favre went over 3,000 yards passing for the season, extending his NFL records for the most 3,000-yard seasons (15) and the most consecutive 3,000-yard seasons (15).

Favre finished 22 of 34 for 293 yards and two touchdowns and is now just 14 pass completions from breaking Dan Marino's NFL career record of 4,967. Favre has 4,954 completions.

Seeing open space

Charles Woodson hasn't found much running room on punt returns this season, but he finally saw a nice stretch of green grass in front of him early in the fourth quarter.

Moving to his left to field a 44-yard punt, Woodson broke back around to the right and had a wall of blockers that allowed him to get around the corner. The career-long 40-yard return reached the San Francisco 18 before he was pushed out of bounds.

"That was beautiful," said Woodson, who has given way to other return men at times this season because of various injuries. "I definitely wanted to get into the end zone. We haven't scored on special teams at all this year, so that would be huge for us. To catch the ball and see an opening, and be able to take off and show a little speed, it definitely felt good."

The big special teams play set up a 21-yard field goal by Dave Rayner to put the Packers ahead 30-13 with 8:47 left in the game.

First NFL interception

On San Francisco's ensuing possession, linebacker A.J. Hawk snagged his first NFL interception. Dropping deep over the middle to cover tight end Vernon Davis, Hawk reached up at goal line with both hands and picked off Alex Smith's pass down the seam returning it 21 yards.

"I think the tight end had a step on me or so," Hawk said. "I was just trying to cut off his angle and the ball was there when I turned around. I'm just glad I caught it."

The Hawk vs. Davis matchup was intriguing because the two first-round draft picks were selected consecutively, at fifth and sixth overall, respectively, by the Packers and 49ers in last April's draft.

Both rookies show the promise and potential expected of such high picks. Davis, who missed a handful of games with a broken leg, made his big play late in the fourth quarter, catching a short pass from Smith and breaking tackles on his way to a 52-yard touchdown, his second score of the season and first since Week 1.

New looks

The Packers used threw some wrinkles into their alignments on both offense and defense on Sunday.

On offense, several times they lined up with a three-headed backfield - two blocking fullbacks in William Henderson and Brandon Miree split wide and halfback Ahman Green or Vernand Morency in between them a few yards deeper.

"It just reminds me of my days at Nebraska," Green said. "We had a formation just like that. It's fun and it makes the defense think a little more before the ball is snapped.

"It keeps them honest. When you switch up personnel or formations against a defense, it makes them hesitate."

It seemed to help, as the ground game was productive most of the day. Green had 21 carries for 77 yards and Morency added seven rushes for 69 yards.

On defense, as expected the key change was moving defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins to defensive end on many of the early running downs in an effort to slow up running back Frank Gore and compensate for the loss of defensive end Mike Mongtomery to injury.

Gore had runs of 6 and 72 yards on his first two carries of the game before the Packers made the switch on the line. After that, he had 17 carries for 52 yards, or barely more than 3 yards per carry, the rest of the game.

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