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Continued: Reviewing a record return: Patterson's 109-yarder

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 23, 2013 - 10:25 PM

The second line included two ends: John Carlson on the left and Joe Berger on the right. The third line included two halfbacks: Toby Gerhart on the left and Jerome Felton on the right.

Green light, no matter what

The Packers had hoped to get kicker Mason Crosby some rest in the Vikings game. So punter Tim Masthay handled the opening kickoff. He did his job, or so everyone on Green Bay’s sideline thought.

“I was shocked when [Patterson] brought it out,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said this week. “I was kind of hoping that he had stepped on the back line.”

Close, but not going to happen, said Patterson, a savvy back-line tiptoe artist.

“If I’m that close, I try to turn my feet sideways to make sure I’m in and balanced,” Patterson said. “I really thought I was out. But I caught the ball and started running and didn’t hear the whistle blown.”

Priefer was asked when he decided to give Patterson the green light to return the ball under any circumstances. His answer: “The first time I saw him on tape at Tennessee.”

Patterson leads the league with a 34.4-yard average. In 28 returns, he has been caught behind the 20-yard line only seven times. The Packers did it twice after his record return when Crosby took over as kicker. But even with Crosby’s directional savvy, the Packers eventually gave up and pooched the ball after Patterson returned yet another one from 9 yards deep and took it 51 yards.

“If we started getting tackled a bunch inside the 20, we’d have to change things,” Priefer said. “We’d have to limit him to 3 to 5 yards deep, like a lot of teams. If you look around the league, everyone and their mother is now taking a knee at 7, 8, 9 yards deep.”

But not the Vikings.

“We have the best return team in the league,” Patterson said. “I have great blockers out there. Why should I waste a knee if they’re blocking things up like that?”

Hitting an NFL hole

The Vikings had a left return called. The NFL no longer allows wedges of three or more players because of safety concerns, so the Vikings use two double-teams to create what they hope will be a seam at about the 15-yard line. The new rules stipulate double-teams have to be at least 2 yards apart. Priefer teaches a 3-yard separation.

In this case, Berger and Carlson sealed the left side of the hole, while Dean had a key block to shield early penetration on the right side.

“This particular technique is called a trap block,” Dean said. “We have a ‘capture, not kill’ [blocking] attitude. So, basically, I just want to get in my guy’s way. I know I can’t let this man beat me across by face to the left.”

As soon as Patterson sees the small seam, he knows exactly how little time he has to burst through it.

“In college, that hole would be there a long time,” said Patterson, nodding to the screen. “It’s a small, little hole, but that’s an NFL hole. I just have to make sure I get past Larry and get up to Toby [who was leading the way up through the hole]. Then it’s, ‘Gone.’ ”

It’s something Vikings fans saw a lot of with Harvin.

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  • Gone in 13 seconds: Vikings first-round draft pick Cordarrelle Patterson scored his first NFL touchdown on a 109-yard kickoff return last month against the Packers.

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