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Game Changing Play of the Week: Aaron Rodgers and Geronimo Allison Make it a Game in the 4th

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Game Changing Play of the Week: Aaron Rodgers and Geronimo Allison Make it a Game in the 4th

Welcome to the first weekly “Game Changing Play of the Week” analysis. In this space each week, I’ll analyze a single play from the game that had significantly influenced the Packers’ victory (or loss, God forbid). These games will usually be momentum changers or turning points, but could also simply be statement plays or remarkable highlights.

For week one against the Bears, a lot of the attention is going to be on the Randall Cobb 75-yard catch and run that ultimately ended up being the game winner. But what really sparked the Packers’ fourth-quarter rally was Aaron Rodgers’ gorgeous touchdown heave to Geronimo Allison in the corner of the endzone.

The context

At the time of this play, Rodgers had given the offense a little bit of spark by returning from his first-half knee injury, but down 17 at the start of the fourth quarter, most Packer fans were probably not realistically thinking “we’re going to win.”

The Packers’ offense began to come alive in the third quarter largely due to a shift in passing philosophy. Whether it was Mike McCarthy calling different plays or Aaron Rodgers getting the ball out quicker, the team started gaining some momentum by getting the ball out quickly on short slants, outs and crossing routes. This effectively neutralized what had been an extremely potent Bears pass rush in the first half.

On this particular drive, the Packers started at the 19 yard line with a couple minutes remaining in the third quarter. The positive plays on this drive weren’t anything particularly flashy. A third and 14 conversion resulted from a pass to Allision that traveled about 11 or 12 yards in the air. Allison caught another pass on first down for 12 yards, about seven of which was after the catch. Otherwise, the Packers gobbled up short chunks of yardage on runs and short passes.

The same had been true of the previous drive, on which the Packers scored a field goal for their first points of the game. Short, rhythm passes to move the chains and no-huddle offense to get down the field quickly.

This set up the play we’re about to analyze.

The play

The broadcast showed numerous close-up shots of Rodgers’ left leg when he would drop back and then plant to throw. It was clear he was favoring the leg, and the Bears almost certainly knew it as well. Less ability on Rodgers’ part to scramble and plant his leg means a lower likelihood of big plays downfield.

As a result, the Bears were able to feel a little more confident lining up in single coverage. It burned them on this play.

Here’s the pre-snap setup. The straight red lines indicate the single coverage on all receivers that go out for routes. The circled Bear defender drops back into a shallow zone, roughly in between where you’ll see running back Ty Montgomery and tight end Jimmy Graham take their routes.

What’s noteworthy here is that it’s second and two, and the Bears are most likely expecting a run. Khalil Mack is not on the field. And with seven guys in the box and three men playing tight coverage at the line, there’s just the one deep safety for help on the long ball, meaning on deep routes, Rodgers is going to have single coverage downfield with at least two of his three receivers who take those deep routes.

Here are the routes. Davante Adams (alone out to the left) and Allison (far out to the right) are both going to run go routes to the endzone. Adams appears to beat his man on the inside (I’ll be interested to see the All 22 on this when it comes out) and Allison takes the sideline.

Meanwhile, Randall Cobb is running up the seam, with Graham taking a deep in route to about the 25 yard line (a 15ish yard route) and Montgomery taking the shallow check down to the first down marker. 

With only a four-man rush and no Khalil Mack to worry about, the Packers’ offensive line does an excellent job of providing Rodgers with the time the play needs for the routes to develop. David Bakhtiari does a particularly excellent job of working his man around the back of the play, leaving Rodgers plenty of room to step up behind the comfort of the double team (and some solid blocking by Justin McCray) and deliver the long ball. Bulaga gives up nothing here to his man.

If you look at Rodgers here, you’ll see he clearly wants to go downfield to Adams. That’s his initial read. But as you’ll see shortly, the safety decides to provide extra help on Adams over the top. That’s one benefit of Adams turning into a marquee wideout—he’ll draw the extra help that frees up guys like Allison for big plays like this one.

Apologies for the blurry image here, but it’s enough to give the general idea. I’ve labeled the receivers for clarity.

The safety is the circled player, and as you can see, he’s already realized the ball is going to the other side of the field, but it’s too late—he’d already committed to going to provide help on top of Adams. Meanwhile, Cobb draws his defender to the other side of the hash. What this does is effectively empty half the field, leaving Allison all alone on the bottom in single coverage with the corner.

All Rodgers has to do is get the ball out in front of Allison for this play, and at worst it’s going to be an incompletion. Allison has a step (or maybe a half step) on the defender, so anything other than an underthrown ball has a very small chance of being intercepted.

Of course, here’s where the setup comes into play again. Rodgers has been taking the short, quick routes since his return, and is clearly favoring his injured leg. The Bears were clearly thinking this was likely to be a running down, and were also conscious of the Rodgers injury that would likely make it difficult for most quarterbacks to get the ball downfield on a deep ball.

Unfortunately for them, Rodgers isn’t most quarterbacks, and the Packers successfully lulled them into giving up the verticals. 

Like I said, all Rodgers needs to do is catch Allison in stride, and there’s essentially no chance of an interception.

Of course, this is a difficult throw for any quarterback to make. The corner here, Kyle Fuller, has pretty solid position on Allison. It’s just an absolutely perfect throw, and outstanding concentration by Allison to pull it in.

Most quarterbacks in the league do not reliably make this throw. The fact that Rodgers does it on a bum leg is, frankly, astounding, and yet another example of his greatness.

I mean, come on. Are you kidding me? Look at that placement. This isn’t bad coverage at all by Fuller, but as perfect of a throw as you’ll find in this situation. Allison is only just barely behind him, and Rodgers puts it in an extremely tight window. Allison then has the presence of mind to secure the ball even with Fuller’s outstretched hand in his field of vision.

Just an absolutely outstanding play, one that shows the trust Rodgers has in Allison, and one that energized the team to create one of the most improbable comebacks in Packers history, and certainly the most dramatic that I’ve ever witnessed, considering that many of us thought Rodgers was going to be out for the season at halftime.

 

That’s it for this week’s Game Changing Play of the Week. On to Minnesota!

 

 

 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (46) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"second and two"

I was lossing my mind last year because they where throwing deep on every down but second and short. That is the time to take your shot.

Oz40's picture

T J Watt. Exactly what this team needs right now. Ted needed to retire a year before he actually did.

Oz40's picture

Whoever dislike this post , did you see TJ Watts stats?

stockholder's picture

Everybody wanted TJ Watt. The problem was Randall and Rollins. They never developed. TT took the trade down because King (Cb) was needed. He still had CMIII and Perry. The Cbs were strong that year. Some players just didn't work out for GB. The biggest mistake was taking Randall in the first place. A player rated a second round pick. #50. For some reason he felt a Safety could play CB. Randall was the head scratcher, and Kiper said he was a good player. Scheme has more to do with the selections now. Even Coaches. TJ Watt was the BPA. TT valued picks more than players.

Oz40's picture

LOL! So you are saying Ted should have retired two years before he did......you make me laugh!

Since '61's picture

Can't worry about players we don't have. Go forward with who we have and let Gut e keep building the team. Can't change the past, just move forward and create the future. Thanks, '61

dobber's picture

^^THIS^^

The TKstinator's picture

I have noticed that

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

Kb999's picture

Whata game. Whata play!!

Coldworld's picture

Thanks for this analysis.

GBPDAN1's picture

That Play was a Masterpiece!

And the fact that at that point in the game, Rodgers was back playing and had just conducted two scoring drives to open the 2nd half was incredible considering the nightmare experience of the First half.

The thoughts I was having at half time of Kizer playing for us the remainder of the year was horrifying. Total Deja Vu of Hundley and last year. Go Rodgers. Hope the knee is back to normal soon!

What a game!

Jonathan Spader's picture

My brain went down a much darker path seeing Rodgers carted off the field. I was envisioning this being a career threatening injury. Rodgers just signing that huge guaranteed contract and the Packers being in cap hell for the next 6 years. It was like life being sucked out of me and then finally breathed back in seeing Rodgers jog out of the tunnel helmet in hand smile on his face. I had flashbacks to 2014 and knew we had a chance.

canadapacker's picture

The Bears still suck! Even Matthews couldnt bail them out. I have seen dumb penalties - but that was one of the stupidest for a whole long while and a good team would have capitalized. Time for CM3 to see some bench time - every sweep went around him, by him or through him. LInebackers are supposed to shed blocks and at least not have any LOAFS - CM3 needs to be benched - hopefully he will only play intermittently once the injured guys get back.
Our Oline just needs to be able to block better especially on the running game - they were stood up on every run play - Now that is not a chopped liver front 7 that they were playing against but come on guys open some holes - the run game slows down the pass rush.

See what ARod can do with a little time - Nice to see Allison catch it - hope that is just the beginning

The TKstinator's picture

You had me at “Our Oline needs to be able to block better”

MarkinMadison's picture

Just a ridiculous play. I don't know how he does that - perfect placement, perfect touch, 45+ yards, one leg. Does the man sit around in his back yard and practice for this situation all off-season?

Since '61's picture

Great players make great plays consistently. That's why they get paid. Thanks, Since '61

Tommy Phillips's picture

Great analysis. Amazing throw.

Barazinho's picture

Great play by Allison - he slowed just a bit at about the 10, and then accelerated, and waited until the last moment to reach for the ball, with his hands and his last stride - fuller can't tell exactly where the ball is, and can't defend it.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Allison pushed off blatantly and should have been flagged. It was mentioned on NFL Network yesterday.

Qoojo's picture

I don't think the nearest ref had a view of it though because Allison's body blocked his view and they were hand jousting before that. On the play, yea, you can see the arm is extended and Fuller get pushed backward or very briefly impeded.

There are bad/questionable penalty calls and missed penalty calls during a game, and they kind of even out over a game. I thought the bears were gifted with a roughing the passer call on Wilkerson.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

True, very true.

Fordham Ram's picture

In the above photo not only is Allison being screened as Tim points out but his arm is being pulled down as well by the Fuller brush man. I had to look at the replay a few times to appreciate it and realize how big time that catch was.

Tundraboy's picture

Another absolutely incredible pass by Rodgers,but Allison made an equally incredible catch. That's concentration,and speed control with no margin for error. Allison is not going anywhere.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Allison clearly pushed off and should have been flagged. He pushed off multiple times because he couldn't maintain separation. Big, obvious miss by the refs.

Johnblood27's picture

...and Alison was pushing off while Fuller was grab-grab-grabbibg him.

Hand fighting, contact downfield.

Its called FOOTBALL. This isnt basketball. Let them play. Im glad the refs did, ticky tack flag happy officials absolutely ruin the competition that football thrives on.

BTW, we all saw your interpretation of the play the first 30 times you mentioned it. Give it a rest.

I like your commentary, but you worry issues like a dog on a bone.

Make your (usually very good) points and move on to the next one. Its kinda condescending to say the same thing over and over to an intelligent audience. We all know football and the Packers here.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

A whole article was written celebrating this play. I'm not beating a dead horse. I'm providing multiple counters to multiple points. You just don't like my point, so you want me to "give it a rest."

Allison pushed off with full extension. He did it because he was too slow to maintain separation. It wasn't just "football." It was blatant cheating by a guy compensating for his lack of talent, and NFL Network was correct to mention it.

Sorry you don't like that, but it's true. Drop the pro-Packers spin.

CJ Bauckham's picture

"It was blatant cheating by a guy compensating for his lack of talent"

Even Julio Jones pushes off like that. You can call it cheating, as it is, but ascribing lack of talent as the reason is an opinion, and perfectly debatable

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I like your commentary ALP, but I have to agree that you already had made your point. A short comment noting that NFL Network made the same point about Allison pushing off would have been new evidence of a kind, and perhaps worth mentioning - briefly.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

In the case of this play, he pushed off due to his clear lack of separation speed. If you can't see that, then I don't know what else to say.

Whatever. Enough. You guys can think what you want.

And for those thinking I'm making too much of this, that's a fair comment. My only response is that I get a bit emotional when a player cheats to compensate for his lack of talent, and then everyone celebrates him like he's the 2nd Coming of Jerry Rice.

Oppy's picture

Geronimo Allison: faster than Jerry Rice. lol.

Johnblood27's picture

If you aint cheatin, you aint competin

If youre not rubbin' youre not racin'

hand fighting is professional technique, not cheating

It is called competing and until it crosses a certain line it isn't cheating. The officials determine that line and draw it in proportion to the contribution of all parties involved in the "competitive moment". The officials saw the entire play. The officials did not determine that one player was more egregious than the other in the "competitive moment".

driving a qb into the turf well after release of the ball is cheating to gain a competitive advantage. we all know who does that. (Charles Martin and you know who...)

I dont much care what NFL network wonks have to say. They were not on the field, the officials were and that was not a cut and dried rules interpretation. It was judgement. NFL network wonks lose that one to the on-field officials.

LayingTheLawe's picture

It doesn't mean he lacks athleticism it means he is learning to be a receiver. Many many many big time receivers have made careers out of well placed push offs. Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall are the two I immediately think of. So maybe Allison is learning how to make the contested catch and make himself valuable. No one in the nfl is going to just run past people on every play so you need to know how to push with out making it look like you pushed. Great job by Allison.

Lphill's picture

Let's not forget that none of these Heroics should have been necessary had the Packers been ready to play which they were not but the Bears were , early on the Packers offense was awful and getting booed off the field and the defense let the Bears march down the field, all this is getting lost because of what Rodgers did and we don't even know the severity of his injury. MM was again bailed out by Rodgers who still could be lost for the season . Let's hope not.

HankScorpio's picture

Nothing is getting lost. People are simply enjoying the greatness on display. We're in the midst of the greatest long-term run of QB play any NFL franchise has ever seen with Rodgers following Favre. It's something to enjoy and savor, not pick apart in a search for perfection that is ultimately unattainable anyways. At least for me.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

NFL Network yesterday noted what I've been saying: Allison pushed off. Blatantly. It wasn't just tugging and battling, but rather clear cheating that wasn't called.

Great pass, great catch--but should have been flagged. Wasn't even close.

Of course, Green Bay has been robbed more times than I can remember, so I'n feeling no remorse. But let's not insult our own intellects by calling this a fair win.

Allison cheated. We won. On to Minnesota.

fthisJack's picture

i saw a hold on the Bears that resulted in a long run. so they cheated, we cheated. its a wash.....we won.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Jack, you're probably right. There were likely offsetting bad calls going the Bears' way, which gives me even less reason for remorse.

I just don't think we should be writing whole articles celebrating one play where our guy clearly cheated and got away with it. We're better than that.

HankScorpio's picture

"But let's not insult our own intellects by calling this a fair win."

Blow calls are part of the game. You win some, you lose some. It's a quirk of fate, not a sign of unfairness.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

True, Hank, though this was a pretty blatant blown call.

I guess I just don't think we should have whole articles celebrating a play where we cheated and got away with it. Certainly we could do better.

JohnnyLogan's picture

You keep going on and on about it being "blatant." It certainly wasn't blatant. This whole idea that if you extend your arm BS... was his elbow completely extended, arm stiff?... you get into those weeds and there's no end. They were two good football players hand fighting, trying to make a play. Allison barely touched him with his extended hand... give it a rest. There's worse on every play in the line. And then you say idiotically he did it for lack of talent. He made a number of big plays this game and the catch, despite the fact that you dismiss it because of your exaggerated emotional state over his "cheating" was still incredible. Lack of talent?... the only lack of talent is in your ability to analyze.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

That wasn't just hand-fighting. Cut the spin. The defender easily closed the gap with superior speed, and was pushed off multiple times--once flagrantly--by a slow guy cheating to maintain separation.

You just don't want to face it because of your Green and Gold goggles.

JohnnyLogan's picture

First stop the name calling. As to the argument... Multiple times?... Cheating?... really?... By your own admission you get emotional when confronted with cheating in sports, so my advice is see someone for help with that, like a bartender. I do have Green and Gold glasses. I also have my sanity.

rocknowski's picture

I really wish I had the ability to watch live these stressful games. I've been a fan since 1965 and remembering back as a young boy must have sat through many difficult games (Ice Bowl for one)....I have never left this team during the last 5 decades, and this game proved to me that you never give up hope, and know in your heart that the Packers with AR at the helm, will always have a chance to win!
J..Rock

PAPackerbacker's picture

Allison is a damn good receiver and deserves the #3 spot. He has proven he can be counted on when it's a do or die situation. He had an outstanding game. And has earned the trust of Rodgers which will even make Allison a greater threat to defenses and a better asset to the Packers air attack. Adams, Cobb, and Allison will put up some big numbers for the Packers this year. Got to love this guy. Go! Pack! Go!

dobber's picture

"He has proven he can be counted on when it's a do or die situation."

With the exception of the fumble on the last possession of the Carolina game last year that ended their playoff hopes... ;)

PAPackerbacker's picture

Or the catches this year that lead to Rodgers biggest ever 4 quarter come back. Apparently Rodgers has a lot of confidence in him.

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