Notebook: Driver's Big Play Can't Spark Offense


WR Donald Driver outruns CB Corey Webster on a 90-yard TD pass in the second quarter on Sunday.

Brett Favre's dramatic 90-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver early in the second quarter on Sunday was not only the longest play from scrimmage in Green Bay postseason history.

It was also, unfortunately, more than one-third of the Packers' total offense in this NFC Championship.

With a non-existent running game and an inability to convert on third downs, the Packers amassed just 264 yards of total offense in their 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants.

"We hit a couple big plays, but we didn't have a very good rhythm or a tempo out there," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "Part of it obviously is our execution, and part of it is you have to credit the Giants for playing a good football game. Certainly there were some things we could have done better, but you have to give them credit."

The big play was a thing of beauty and seemingly would have sparked the offense to a big day. Driver shoved aside Corey Webster's attempt at a hard jam at the line of scrimmage, and with safety Gibril Wilson shading toward the tight end running a crossing route, Driver was in the clear along the right sideline.

He caught the pass in stride and then outran Webster as well as Wilson, who appeared to have a good angle on him, to give the Packers a 7-6 lead. It was Driver's first TD since Week 3, and it also gave Favre his 18th consecutive postseason game with a TD pass, extending his own league record.

"To be honest with you when he got jammed like that, I thought the quarterback would come off him," Philbin said. "But the safety held there in the middle, Donald got off it eventually and obviously was wide open."

But the Packers weren't able to break anybody else free all night, especially running back Ryan Grant. Ten of Grant's 13 carries went for 2 yards or less, and facing third-and-long much of the game, the Packers converted just 1-of-10 on third down.

"Getting first downs is how you get in a rhythm," offensive tackle Mark Tauscher said. "We weren't able to get in any semblance of a rhythm. It was pretty choppy the whole day, and we weren't able to sustain anything."

Favre to decide in due time

Favre said after the game that his decision on whether to retire or play in 2008 would come fairly soon. He plans to talk to Head Coach Mike McCarthy on Monday and then head back home to Mississippi to get away from the game for a while, as has been his custom.

"I'm not going to rush to make any quick decisions, but I think it will probably be much quicker than it has been in the past, and people appreciate that," Favre said. "I'll try to enjoy this season we had as much as I can, and try to block this game out, which will be very hard. But I'm not going to let this game sway my decision one way or the other."

One teammate doesn't think it will be a tough decision for Favre.

"I just don't see him walking away," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "I know he had a great season and we had a great year, minus (that) we missed the Super Bowl. But I just don't see him walking away. I think he has so much more left in him. He still loves to play the game. If he walks away it would be a surprise to me."

Close call

The Packers gave the Giants four first downs via penalties, but none was more costly than the roughing-the-passer on Nick Collins early in the third quarter.

{sportsad300}The Giants faced third-and-5 from the Green Bay 47-yard line, and Eli Manning's pass was batted down at the line by Corey Williams. But Collins, coming on a delayed blitz, knocked Manning to the ground a little late, and the 15-yard flag gave the Giants a first down at the 32.

"It was a judgment call," Collins said. "The ref said I took two (steps), I thought I took one, but hey, they made the call, and there's nothing I could do about it. He made the call, so you have to deal with it."

Defenders are allowed to hit the quarterback after he throws the ball if they're only one step away from contact. Any more than that, and the flag is thrown.

Five plays after the penalty, the Giants were in the end zone and had a 13-10 lead.

Key fumble goes the other way

Not that the Packers weren't given their chances with Lawrence Tynes' two missed field goals in the fourth quarter. But before the second miss, the Packers had a prime opportunity for a game-changing turnover.

R.W. McQuarters was returning Jon Ryan's punt when Tracy White knocked the ball loose near midfield. Green Bay's Jarrett Bush initially had a chance to scoop it up, but couldn't. Then Brady Poppinga had a chance to fall on the ball, but it squirted away, eventually recovered by New York's Domenik Hixon at the Green Bay 48.

"I'm sure there are a number of plays you can look back at them and say if we could have done this or done that, you would have been in a different situation," Poppinga said. "So goes those games. Six points in our favor, we're here and nobody's talking about those.

"That's how the NFL operates. It's a game of inches, it's a game of one team making one more play when it counts, and they did that."

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