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The Packers' Jermichael Finley celebrated after he caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

how it unfolded

Score: 17-13 Vikings

Time: 14:21, third quarter

Packers' ball, 2nd-and-9

from own 21.

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1: Jennings (85) runs a go route, covered by Asher Allen (21) while Husain Abdullah (39) is supposed to cover Jennings if he runs deep. The rest of the Packers receivers flood the left and middle of the field. QB Aaron Rodgers starts out looking left.

2: Allen leaves Jennings to cover an out route, and Abdullah does not pick him up. Rodgers moves to his right and hits Jennings in stride for the TD.

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Josh Crutchmer, Star Tribune a wide-open greg jennings gave the pack the lead for good

Magnitude of busted coverage hits home in a hurry

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG
  • Star Tribune
  • October 24, 2011 - 5:15 AM

Vikings free safety Husain Abdullah had a simple explanation for one of the worst busted coverages you'll ever see unfold in an NFL game.

"I just simply lost sight of [Greg] Jennings," Abdullah said.

That's not a good thing to do. Jennings has more 80-yard touchdown catches (four) than any other player in the history of the Green Bay Packers. He also happens to be quarterback Aaron Rodgers' favorite of many targets.

On Sunday, he came within a yard of making it five 80-yard scores when he slipped unnoticed downfield for a 79-yard touchdown reception that changed, well, everything in the Packers' 33-27 victory over the Vikings at Mall of America Field.

"I was sick to my stomach when I looked up and saw that throw," Abdullah said. "Especially with how great we were playing up to that point and how that play kind of just sucked the air out of the building. It was one of those plays that totally shifts a game completely around."

The Vikings led the Packers 17-13 when Rodgers dropped back for that pass with 14 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third quarter.

"He scrambled [to his right] and I seen [receiver Donald] Driver," Abdullah said. "Then Rodgers fake-pumped to, I think, [tight end Jermichael Finley]. I thought Rodgers was going to throw it down, so I came up."

Left cornerback Asher Allen, a third-stringer forced to start, bumped Jennings near the line of scrimmage and released him because he was supposed to have safety help over the top. Abdullah was the safety on that side and was supposed to have deep half coverage.

Jennings threw his right arm in the air when he got about 20 yards behind the nearest Viking. He caught the ball at the Vikings 45-yard line and practically jogged the rest of the way.

"Those are fun ones," Rogers said. ''It's tough to throw those. You don't want to underthrow it, or overthrow it.''

It was one of Rodgers' three touchdown passes. He also completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and a 146.5 passer rating. A perfect rating is 158.3.

"He's a great player," Abdullah said. "It's tough to play against him. But when you make it easy for him, like I did ..."

Abdullah didn't finish the sentence. He didn't need to. The busted play was the first step in the Packers outscoring the Vikings 20-0 in the third quarter.

"That's NFL football," middle linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "This game usually comes down to one or two plays. That was definitely one of them."

The Vikings went into the game missing three of their top five defensive backs. Cornerback Antoine Winfield (neck) and strong safety Jamarca Sanford (concussion) were injured. Winfield's backup, Chris Cook, was in Hennepin County jail after being arrested and charged with domestic battery the day before.

The Vikings had planned to play a lot of dime packages with six defensive backs. But they stuck with their nickel packages rather than put rookie Brandon Burton in the game as the dime back.

Allen started at left corner. Tyrell Johnson started at strong safety. And Marcus Sherels played the nickel back.

"We had a couple of packages that we were going to use," Johnson said. "But they wouldn't have worked because we were shorthanded."

Abdullah said the Vikings secondary went into the game with a "next-man-up mentality."

"We went out there with the guys that we had, and we fought hard," he said. "That's why for me to give up something like that, it's just tough."

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