ARLINGTON, Texas — It might seem weird to think someone who only saw limited duty spent the most time at the microphone during Super Bowl postgame. Nobody could — or wanted to — pull Donald Driver away from his perch after Sunday night’s big victory. Driver and Charles Woodson left Super Bowl XLV in the first half with injuries and did not return. However, the happy ending that allowed both players to hoist the Lombardi Trophy eased the pain.
ARLINGTON, Texas — It might seem weird to think someone who only saw limited duty spent the most time at the microphone during Super Bowl postgame.
Nobody could — or wanted to — pull Donald Driver away from his perch after Sunday night’s big victory. Driver and Charles Woodson left Super Bowl XLV in the first half with injuries and did not return. However, the happy ending that allowed both players to hoist the Lombardi Trophy eased the pain.
“It’s truly amazing,”?said Driver, who had two catches for 28 yards in the 31-25 win over Pittsburgh before suffering an ankle injury. “When that clock was ticking down, I didn’t know what to do. I’m glad that I’m now able to say I am part of history.”
After 12 seasons and 698 receptions, Driver finally made it to the Super Bowl after some close calls in the past.
“It means everything,”?Driver said. “It means now you’re part of greatness.”
Woodson, the 2009 NFL?Defensive Player of the Year, saw his numbers go down a tad this season, but he is still among the league’s top cornerbacks. Coincidentally, Woodson’s first major impact of Super Bowl XLV — breaking up a pass in the end zone — also was his only impact.
Woodson gave an emotional pep talk to the rest of the defense at halftime after finding out he could not return to the game.
Like Driver, Woodson had been waiting a long time to get to the biggest stage in football and become a hero. Neither got to play that role on the field, but they made their presence felt on the sidelines.
“I?let out all of my emotions at halftime,”?Woodson said. “I didn’t get a whole lot out, but just to tell them to get it done, and they did.”
While Driver had never been to the Super Bowl before, Woodson had one previous memory of the big game — one that ended very badly.
Woodson played for the?Oakland Raiders eight years earlier when they were on the business end of a 48-21 thumping in Super Bowl XXVII.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey for this team, all season long,”?Woodson said. “For us, we walk those halls every day at Lambeau (Field) and we’ve seen all the greats. This is our opportunity to get on the wall.”
Woodson needed help to get dressed after the game, in obvious pain at his locker, but Driver soaked the whole scene in. While some players answer a few questions and go back to the celebration, Driver held court with a fairly large contingent of reporters for longer than any player on either team. With his kids on his lap as he speaks with writers, the recently turned 36-year-old (Feb. 2) wide receiver replayed the beginning of the second half when he tried his hardest to give it a go.
“I couldn’t jump on it anymore and (the doctor) told me I was done, even though I felt like I could still go,” said Driver.
As Pittsburgh rallied from 21-3 down to get as close as three points in the fourth quarter, it seemed like the effect of not having Driver and Woodson on the field made a world of difference. It certainly did make a difference, for a while, until unsung heroes like Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Bush emerged.
Nelson made up for a critical drop to have the best game of his young career with a Packers’ postseason record nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. Bush had an interception and saw extensive playing time after Woodson left the game.
“The crazy part is those guys came in there and saw my eyes,”?Driver said. “They told me, ‘We can’t cry because you’re crying right now.’ So I told them to go out there and win it all.”
Perhaps it’s fitting that the Packers would suffer key injuries in the biggest game of the season, yet still emerge victorious.
Green Bay placed 15 players on injured reserve this season, including starting running back Ryan Grant, tight end Jermichael Finley and linebacker Nick Barnett.
Besides Woodson and Driver, cornerback Sam Shields suffered an injury on Sunday (his shoulder), but a depleted Green Bay limped its way to glory.
“There’s so many ups and downs through the course of a season that it feels really good to come together and do this,”?said Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk. “We knew we were capable, we just had to put it together.”
Paul A. Jannace writes for the Wellsville (N.Y.) Daily Reporter.