ST. LOUIS – Greg Jennings has played with a lot of superstars in his nine-year NFL career, but the Vikings receiver still hasn’t quite figured out teammate Cordarrelle Patterson.
“I asked him on the sideline, ‘What do you want me to tell the media when they ask me about you and what you do?’ ” Jennings said after Sunday’s season-opening 34-6 win. “I really feel like he’s not [easily defined]. I said to him, ‘Are you a receiver? What do you prefer?’ ”
And he said?
“ ‘Just get the ball in my hands,’ ” Jennings said.
That’s becoming quite clear as the big receiver and NFL’s reigning All-Pro first-team kick returner has become the first receiver since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to score on rushing touchdowns of 35 or more yards in three consecutive games.
Sunday’s 67-yarder broke Bob Grim’s 43-year-old team record for longest touchdown run by a receiver (54). Patterson’s game-high 102 yards — on just three carries — topped Adrian Peterson’s total of 75 on 21 carries and made Patterson the first receiver in franchise history to rush for 100 yards in a game.
He can thank offensive coordinator Norv Turner for calling “80 Truck” and his teammates for blocking the play perfectly at the line of scrimmage and downfield as well.
“It’s special to watch,” Peterson said. “He made a joke. He came to the sideline and was like, ‘I got to teach you how to run the ‘80 Truck.’ I’ll teach you how to run that.’”
Patterson said he’s 3-for-3 on scoring touchdowns on that particular toss sweep. His six career rushing touchdowns tie Percy Harvin’s team record for a receiver.
On this particular play, Matt Asiata was the lone running back when Patterson motioned behind him in an I formation. Quarterback Matt Cassel tossed the ball to the right, which was flanked by two tight ends.
Right guard Brandon Fusco kicked out safety T.J. McDonald while tight ends Rhett Ellison and Kyle Rudolph sealed the inside.
“To see the hole open like that,” said Patterson, “there’s no way I can miss that hole.”
Asiata blocked cornerback E.J. Gaines out of the hole, allowing Patterson to break free and use his speed, vision and that 220-pound body.
“When I get the ball in my hands, I just expect to do great things with it,” Patterson said. “I do a great job visualizing it. When I visualize, things start slowing down for me.”
After weaving and winding his way through traffic, Patterson almost was caught at the 5-yard line by defensive tackle Michael Brockers. But a block by receiver Adam Thielen took out Brockers.
At that point, only Gaines stood between Patterson and the goal line. They made contact at the 3, but Patterson’s momentum carried them across the goal line.
“About that time, I was dead tired,” Patterson said. “At about the 5, I was done. I think I just fell into the end zone after that.”