Packers feel veterans' pain, persevere
February, 6, 2011
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas – Green Bay’s two oldest veterans, players who had done so much to put the Packers in position, had their seasons end during the second quarter.
Receiver Donald Driver, a 12-year veteran who suffered a high ankle sprain, said he ran out of tears at halftime. Cornerback Charles Woodson, a 13-year veteran who broke his collarbone, also got choked up.
The two old heads, men who had worked their entire career for these opportunities, delivered passionate speeches in the Green Bay locker room at halftime. They essentially implored their teammates to protect the Packers’ lead and put championship rings on their fingers.
“I’m going to tell you, at halftime, it got very emotional,” receiver Greg Jennings said. “I had to walk out a couple of times. They put so much work into putting us in a game like this. To not be able to finish …
“I told them, ‘Don’t even worry about it, because at the end of the day, you’re going to be able to hoist that trophy.’”
The Packers delivered on that promise, managing to withstand a ferocious Pittsburgh comeback attempt. The Packers never lost their lead, bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay.
Driver and Woodson didn’t easily accept that they couldn’t come back after their injuries. Woodson participated in another play, his left arm dangling by his side, after he broke the collarbone. The team doctor made the decision on Driver after watching the receiver fail when trying to cut with his left foot.
“I broke down,” Driver said. “The doc came over there and told me that I’ve got to be the strong one and rally those guys.”
Jordy Nelson had the game of his career with Driver on the sideline, catching nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. The Green Bay secondary managed to survive despite nickel corner Sam Shields also missing some time due to injury.
The Packers’ perseverance, of course, shouldn’t come as any surprise. Several starters are among the 15 photogenic players that Green Bay put on injured reserve this season.
“Just like all season, somebody stepped in and they stepped up,” Woodson said. “That’s what this Green Bay Packer team is all about.”