GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers meant no disrespect.
When someone asked the Green Bay Packers quarterback what he learned about second-year wide receiver Geronimo Allison during Sunday’s 27-24 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field — a game in which Allison caught six passes for 122 yards, including a 72-yard catch-and-run to set up Mason Crosby’s game-winning 27-yard field goal — Rodgers’ reply wasn’t intended to be mean-spirited.
He just wanted to be crystal clear. What did he learn? Well …
“No disrespect, but nothing. I’ve known Geronimo has been a player for a long time,” Rodgers said of Allison, who came to Green Bay as an undrafted free agent from Illinois last season, and quickly earned a spot on the 53-man roster after starting the season on the practice squad. “He’s a fantastic part of our offense, does a lot of things really, really well, he’s a tough kid, a really tough competitor.
“I remember the first day I watched him at training camp, I said, ‘How do you not get drafted?’ I said, ‘This kid’s fantastic. He’s got a great attitude.’ … I’m really proud of him.”
Rodgers not only hit Allison on the game’s biggest play — a free play after the Bengals jumped offsides, sending Allison and the Packers other receivers on all-go routes on the third play of overtime — but he also went to Allison to jump-start the game-tying drive (a 17-yard catch on the first play) and on a crucial third-down completion (an 11-yard catch) on which Allison atoned for a drop on the previous play.
“It’s amazing. It’s a blessing. I take it as humbly as I can,” said Allison, who missed the Sept. 10 opener while serving a one-game NFL suspension after a misdemeanor arrest for marijuana possession last November. “Any opportunities that I get blessed with, just try to make the most of them.”
Asked what happened on his 72-yard catch, Allison credited Rodgers and center Corey Linsley for making it possible after Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson jumped.
“It was a free play. Corey did an amazing job just holding the snap as Aaron was going through his cadence. When the guy jumped, he snapped it with perfect timing,” Allison explained. “I outside released the corner. I felt him sinking underneath me and I just shot it vertical and just trusted it. Aaron took a peek, looked at me and laid it out for me to make the play.”
Allison said he’s feeling more comfortable in his second year, and coach Mike McCarthy said he’s clearly “taken that leap from Year 1 to 2” that the Packers demand of their young players.
“This year, I feel more comfortable out there. I’m running routes with my eyes up. I can see the finish and I just feel comfortable putting my feet in the ground and making people miss,” Allison said. “Last year, I was just a young guy wanting to do the right thing, make the right play and move onto the next play. This year, it’s not only about making the right play. It’s going out there and trying to score.”
GETTING HIS KICKS: For Crosby, the game-winning field goal was easier than the game-tying extra point he kicked to send the game to overtime.
Crosby made both — the 27-yarder to win it and the 33-yard extra point, which became the point-after-touchdown distance last season — but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis made the PAT a bit tougher by calling timeout between Jordy Nelson’s touchdown and the kick. While that might not have fazed Crosby, who’s in his 11th NFL season, it could have worked on rookie free-agent punter Justin Vogel, his holder.
“With the new 33-yard rule, it’s (like) a field goal. You’ve got to go out and execute,” Crosby said. “Justin’s first opportunity in a pressure time holding, he did a great job of staying calm and getting it down, staying in the moment. Those are important things.”
As for the field goal, Crosby made the kick and then was “considering a Lambeau Leap” before deciding to hug his wife, son and mother a hug instead.
“I decided against it this week,” Crosby said. “Just thankful for that opportunity to go out there and finish it off.”
EXTRA POINTS: Wide receiver Randall Cobb (chest) said he was “not really” close to playing. He declined to say what his specific injury is, saying, “I don’t want it to be a target for other teams.” … Cobb was one of seven players inactive due to injuries. The others: Left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring); defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hip); outside linebacker Nick Perry (hand); cornerback Davon House (quadriceps); safety Kentrell Brice (groin); and linebacker Jake Ryan (hamstring/concussion). … Right tackle Bryan Bulaga made his season debut after missing the first two games with an Aug. 23 right ankle injury, but he left the game in the fourth quarter after aggravating the injury. His status for Thursday night’s game against Chicago is unclear. … The Packers’ only other reported injury in the game was to safety Marwin Evans, who left the game with cramps but returned in the fourth quarter.
“I remember the first day I watched him at training camp, I said, ‘How do you not get drafted?’” Aaron Rodgers on Geronimo Allison