GREEN BAY – As soon as Geronimo Allison saw Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson jump, the Packers’ second-year receiver knew exactly what to do.
“I took off full speed,” Allison said.
Allison, making a spot start as the No. 3 receiver in place of an injured Randall Cobb, went into free-play mode on third-and-10 on the Packers’ first possessions of overtime.
In beating his man up the sideline, Allison looked in a pass from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and made several defenders miss to turn a first-down conversion into a massive 72-yard gain down to Cincinnati’s 7-yard line.
One play later, kicker Mason Crosby nailed a 27-yard game-winning field goal as the Packers pulled off an impressive 27-24 overtime comeback in front of 78,323 at Lambeau Field.
“When I saw the ball in the air, just make a play on it,” said Allison, who had six catches for a career-high 122 yards. “Once I made a play on it, it’s all about trying to get to the end zone to go score.”
With two catches for 19 yards through the first three quarters, most of Allison’s production came in the final 19 minutes of the game.
Along with his game-changing reception in overtime, the second-year receiver caught two critical passes on the Packers’ 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that tied the game at 24 with 17 seconds left in regulation.
Allison pulled down a 17-yard pass from Rodgers near the sideline to kick-start the drive before hauling an 11-yard catch on third-and-9 to keep the Packers moving downfield.
“He does a lot,” said receiver Davante Adams, who had three catches for 61 yards. “It’s not always going to be perfect, but he’s going to work hard and he has a lot of guys around here cheering him on and trying to make sure we steer him in the right direction.”
The Packers’ offense scored on its first possession of the game thanks in part to a 33-yard defensive pass interference penalty committed against tight end Lance Kendricks, who finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass.
Things slowed down for Green Bay after the score, but Rodgers engineered two second-half touchdown drives capped by passes to receiver Jordy Nelson to turn things around.
The Packers also benefited from a pair of field goals from kicker Mason Crosby, who hit a 28-yard attempt with 14:43 left in the fourth quarter and then hit the game-winner in overtime.
“I just wanted to be pretty quick with the short kick, knock it through,” said Crosby, who said his 33-yard extra point to tie the game at 24 was more pressure-packed. “The snap, hold was perfect. Luckily that end of the field wasn’t too chewed up. Good place for the ball and footing. Just trust the process like I always do.”
Allison has stepped up in place of Cobb before. He caught his first career touchdown pass during a relief appearance last year against Atlanta and then caught another eight passes for 157 yards and a touchdown in the final two games of the 2016 regular season.
His mindset didn’t change this week with Cobb listed as doubtful to play through a chest injury. Allison took the field like it was any other game and responded when his team needed him the most.
It’s a trait his teammates have come to admire about the former undrafted free agent.
“He’s prepared, he knows his stuff, that’s impressed us from Day 1 since he’s been here,” Nelson said. “For a guy who if you think back to the beginning of last year was on the practice squad, now he’s our No. 4 guy, our No. 3 guy today. It’s real impressive because he doesn’t get the reps we get and he doesn’t have the accumulated reps that we have.”
The Packers hit two other plays of more than 40 yards in the contest in addition to Allison’s 72-yarder. Adams also pulled down a 41-yard pass from Rodgers off a flea-flicker in the second quarter, while Kendricks hauled in a 51-yard pass in the third quarter to set up the first of two Nelson TD catches.
Allison was grateful for his chance to contribute, but understands he and the Packers won’t have much time to celebrate. This Thursday, Green Bay welcomes the Chicago Bears to Lambeau Field for its second game in five days.
“I take it as humble as I can and it’s a blessing,” Allison said. “We’re going to watch the film, learn from it and move on to this week coming up on Thursday.”
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