Not only did Donald Driver prove wrong any doubters that he had lost a step or that his career was on the decline, he also had to battle what he described as an overnight case of food poisoning to lead the Packers to a 34-16 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
After having eaten some chicken wings on Saturday that didn't sit well with him, Driver came in early to Lambeau Field to get treatment and regain his strength.
"I was struggling early on, but I was able to fight through it," said Driver.
Considering the feat of strength it took for him to get into the endzone on his 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter, Driver barely seemed affected.
"Donald made one of the most amazing catch-and-runs I've ever seen," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Following a holding penalty by tight end Donald Lee and faced with second-and-16 from their own 39, the Packers' offensive line picked up a blitz by both 49ers inside linebacker as quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with Driver down the right seam.
"When he was at the 20, I was kind of thinking, 'Go down, go down, don't get drilled,'" said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "And then when he broke another tackle, I was hoping he'd get into the endzone."
Driver broke two tackles, had to avoid tight end Andrew Quarless who was sprawled on the turf after attempting to block for the wide receiver, sidestepped another tackle and then carried at least two defenders while diving into the right, front corner of the endzone.
"All I know was that when I caught it, I started making moves and unfortunately you don't know what kind of moves you're making until you watch the film," said Driver. "I just knew it was a big play, everybody said it was a great play. After it was all said and done, I was just trying to get into the endzone."
After being limited by a quad injury, which played a part in his ending his streak of 133 consecutive games (139 including playoffs) with at least one reception in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings, Driver saw his production decrease.
He was then held without a catch a second consecutive game in Week 8 against the New York Jets before sitting out the Week 9 game against the Dallas Cowboys entirely.
Driver benefited from the time off during the bye week and returned to action Weeks 10 and 11, but only had a combined six receptions for 57 yards. While James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Brett Swain elevated their games, some observers wondered if the 35-year-old Driver's career might be coming to a close.
Sunday's performance in which Driver tallied four catches for 73 yards may have quieted those skeptics.
"One thing I do week in and week out, I can't be bothered with all the situations," said Driver. "I know how good I can play, it's just getting opportunities. And when you get the opportunities, you make the best of them."
Less than two minutes to go in the first half, a Vernon Davis 66-yard touchdown pass cut the Packers' lead to one point (14-13) and gave the 49ers momentum heading into halftime. But it was Driver's touchdown on the first series of the third quarter that turned the tide,
"I thought Donald Driver’s touchdown was the biggest play in the game," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "I thought it ignited our football team. We needed that. We had some segments there in the first half where we weren’t as sharp as we needed to. We had some plays where the ball probably didn’t bounce our way or a call that didn’t go our way and that’s football."
From the literal to the figurative barriers Driver surmounted on Sunday, it might take at least another year–if not more–until anyone doubts him again.
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