Dynamic duo

Martin, Holiday step in, and step up for Packers wide receivers

CHICAGO - For Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holiday, Sunday night's game was hardly a meaningless one though it easily could have been.

Sure, both the Packers and Bears were playing out the NFL's regular season finale with nothing on the line (the Packers had been eliminated from playoff contention by kickoff and the Bears had already wrapped up home-field advantage), but the two backup Packers wide receivers did not play like it. Both had career nights and were clearly the offensive stars on New Year's Eve at Soldier Field.

With No. 1 wide receiver Donald Driver nursing a bum shoulder and Greg Jennings inactive for the game (because of the birth of his first child), Martin and Holiday combined to hook-up with quarterback Brett Favre for a whopping 12 catches for 205 yards. Martin, starting just his third career game, hauled in seven for 118 and Holiday, in just his ninth NFL game, caught five for 87.

The performance of the two relatively unknown receivers in front of a national audience went a long way in the Packers 26-7 victory in the regular season finale.

"We were just finding the holes and sitting down in them," said Martin. "We came up with some big catches."

Lovie Smith's Cover 2 defense that has given Favre trouble over the years did not do much harm at least for one night. On the game's first drive, the Packers converted three third downs. Holiday's 35-yarder was the big play which led to a nine-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver.

"Last time we played (the Bears), I think we made it across the 50 (yard-line) once… I don't even know," said Favre. "So to get anything going early was important. To go down and score was as important a drive as we've had all year. Sure, we'd like to be going onto the playoffs, but that was a great drive. What are you going to do? We made some big third-down catches; ran the ball well after catching the ball."

On the second Packers' offensive series, the 6-foot-4 Martin out-battled 5-foot-9 cornerback Ricky Manning for a 33-yard gain to keep the Packers momentum going.

"I think a couple of the go-routes we ran today were designed to use my size," explained Martin, "but other than that we just ran the offense."

Donald Driver has led Packers receivers in catches 11 games this year, but had two players – Martin and Holiday – tally more than him against the Bears. That is especially notable considering where Martin and Holiday have come from.

Martin played his way onto the roster after a good training camp and earned the No. 4 receiver spot. Injuries and the suspension of Koren Robinson gave him more opportunities and he closed the season with a big statement.

Holiday was claimed on waivers on Dec. 5 and has picked up the offense well in limited playing time. He was thrust into the No. 3 spot against the Bears when Jennings flew back to Green Bay on Saturday to be with his wife, Nicole.

Most of the damage done by Packers receivers was compiled in the first half. Martin added a 34-yard reception in the second quarter, and Holiday made a great catch on a pass thrown behind him that went for 15 yards and a first down on drive which ended in a 25-yard Dave Rayner field goal.

Martin did appear to make one blunder in the game, but it was relatively harmless in the outcome. On a Favre interception in the first quarter, it looked like he cut his route off slightly, allowing cornerback Nathan Vasher to make a play on the ball.

All things considered, it was a magical night for the Packers in what could be Favre's last game. If it was, Martin and Holiday have to feel pretty good about being a big part of it.


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