I had a tough time figuring out which way to go this week. Do I go with the long pass to Geronimo Allison in overtime, or do I go with the touchdown to Jordy Nelson that tied up the game with 0:17 to play?

Ultimately, I decided to go with the throw to Allison, for two reasons:
1. It was the throw that led to the winning field goal in overtime, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
2. It’s a more interesting play to write about.

The throw to Nelson will show up in Eye in the Sky this week, but for now, let’s all kick back and take a look at Rodgers-to-Allison in overtime.

In Cover 2 Zone, the quarterback has a small window to hit the receivers down the sideline. They have to hit their receiver after the cornerback passes off coverage but before the safety is able to cover. It takes timing and precision to dot that hole in the zone. Aaron Rodgers [12] is very good at hitting that hole, but he’s even better when that hole is expanded. That’s exactly what happens. here.

Geronimo Allison [81] is lined up wide to the left, with Jordy Nelson [87] lining up right next to him. We also have Martellus Bennett [80] off the end of the line. Allison is running a go route, Nelson is running a skinny post and Bennett is running a crossing route. Let’s unpack this from the inside out and talk about what it all means for this play.

Bennett running a crossing route forces the inside linebackers to stick close to the line. Without Bennett running that route, the linebacker could potentially drop straight back and under Nelson’s route. That would give the cornerback some help underneath.

Nelson running a skinny post holds the safety to the middle of the field for a beat longer than normal. The safety can’t drop wide to the sideline to pick up Allison because he needs to make sure Nelson is covered over the top. With Davante Adams [17] running a go route from the right, the safety to that side is tied up and Nelson can’t be allowed to run free.

Finally, we have Allison. With the safety held to the middle, that Cover 2 hole is expanded a bit. Rodgers seems to know he has Allison, but he doesn’t stare down to the left. He keeps scanning the field – we’ll see that clearer in a minute – which helps to hold the safety to the middle.

Rodgers still has to clear the cornerback with this throw, but it’s an easier throw than normal since the hole is expanded. Rodgers hits Allison in stride.

The safety being held to the middle creates a couple other nice things on this play from Allison’s perspective:
1. Allison gets the ball in his hands with enough time to turn, read the path of the safety and make a move to gain yardage after the catch.
2. The safety is running from the middle and trying to close out on Allison. This creates a less-than-ideal path, and Allison is able to exploit that with a nice step inside. If the safety is closer to the sideline, the angle is a little clearer and he could play this juke a little better.

Watch Rodgers head. He looks left, sees Allison, then scans towards the middle. All that movement prevents anyone on the defense from keying in on where he’s going. When he finally looks back, it doesn’t take him long to load up and hit Allison in stride. Look at that look and step inside from Allison. One move inside gets him a ton of additional yardage.

And then, of course, he crosses up Adam Jones [24] so bad that Allison will likely have to send him a written apology by the time the week is over.

Nice, subtle route combination to expand the Cover 2 hole, nice read by Rodgers and nice moves after the catch by Allison to make this a chip-shot field goal.

This was absolutely me during the course of this play.

Album listened to: Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps