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Notebook: Driver Gets Respect, Attention From Patriots


Donald Driver certainly had the respect from the New England Patriots as the top receiver for the Packers, if not one of the top receivers in the league.

Driver said after Sunday's 35-0 loss that he felt like he was triple-teamed, with a cornerback on him plus help from a linebacker underneath and a safety over the top.

While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, the Patriots certainly paid extra attention to Driver, holding him to a season-low two catches.

"After the game their defensive coordinator walks over to me and tells me, 'You're a great receiver. We did what we had to do tonight,'" Driver said. "I guess his goal was to put three guys on me and stop me tonight."

Driver was shut out until two minutes remained in the first half, when he caught a short hitch pass, spun past a few tacklers and worked his way upfield for 38 yards. His only other catch was a diving grab for 4 yards midway through the third quarter.

"They said they were going to keep me away from the ball," said Driver, who was coming off a career-high 191-yard game at Minnesota last week. "They did the first half, and we tried to come back in the second half and try to make plays happen, and they still had three or four guys on me, so it's hard."

Driver's struggles epitomized those of the entire offense. Even though he had a season-low two catches, he had two of the three pass receptions by Packers wide receivers. The other was by Greg Jennings, with the remaining six completions all short ones to running backs and tight ends.

"I know Greg and Ruvell (Martin) can step up at any time and make plays," Driver said. "It just didn't happen tonight."

Two close calls

Pass interference can be the most maddening of penalties to have called, or not called, depending on the situation. The Packers had two close ones that both went against them early in Sunday's game.

The first came midway through the first quarter, right after Jennings made a nice catch-and-run for 26 yards to get across midfield. Quarterback Brett Favre went deep to Jennings on the next play, and he got a step on cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who appeared to reach back with his arm and impede Jennings as the ball sailed over their heads.

Jennings, one of the more mild-mannered players at his position, was visibly upset when no flag was thrown.

Then early in the second quarter, the Patriots took a shot at the end zone from the Green Bay 23-yard line, but linebacker Brady Poppinga was flagged for interfering with tight end Daniel Graham, giving New England a first-and-goal at the 1. Poppinga's coverage was tight and there was contact as both players went to the ground, but Poppinga didn't feel he deserved a flag.

{sportsad300}"I've done that same technique before and it never was called," Poppinga said. "Every ref is so different. Basically you have to accept whatever the ref calls is reality. The facts lie in the judgment of the ref. It comes down to his judgment and in his judgment it was pass interference."

Two plays later, New England was in the end zone and ahead 14-0.

Blown opportunity

If the Packers had one chance to stay in the game early, it was late in the first quarter after the Patriots fumbled a handoff exchange and A.J. Hawk recovered at the New England 30.

But the offense gained just 4 yards in three plays, and Dave Rayner's 44-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, keeping the score 7-0.

Rayner had made eight straight field goals dating back to Oct. 8. He had been 4-for-5 from 40 to 49 yards until that miss.

Other injuries

Tight end David Martin left the game with a rib injury, but x-rays were negative.

Linebacker Nick Barnett hurt his hand towards the end of the game, but there was no additional report.

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