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Master of improvisation, Favre's latest magic sparks Vikings

Despite trailing 7-3 midway through the second quarter of their divisional playoff loss to the Vikings, the Cowboys had looked like the better team.

Up to that point, Dallas had driven the ball with ease against Minnesota, but had turned the ball over, missed a field goal, and settled for another field goal.

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Defensively, Dallas had forced a three-and-out and given up a 47-yard prayer that was heaved into coverage by Brett Favre. On the touchdown to Sidney Rice, if safety Gerald Sensabaugh had simply turned his head, he easily could have intercepted the pass.

On the Vikings' third possession, they put together a string of first downs. They'd moved the ball from their own 20 to 16-yard line of Dallas with a fresh set of downs.

Minnesota called a bootleg pass, faking a zone run to the left and rolling Favre to the right.

Dallas completely stifled the play initially. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was covered. Receiver Bernard Berrian and fullback Naufahu Tahi were blanketed. Favre had defensive lineman Marcus Spears bearing down on him, and his viable targets were eliminated.

Favre, then, orchestrated his latest improvisational masterpiece.

With a quick pump fake, Favre got Spears to leave his feet, avoiding the hit and biding himself more time to find a receiver.

Within the design of the play, all of the eligible targets were covered. However, a receiver that was initially part of the blocking scheme got involved.

Rice was assigned to make a crackback block on outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, which was intended to help Favre get to the perimeter on his bootleg.

When Rice went to the ground while blocking Ware, the defender responsible for him in coverage, Mike Jenkins, abandoned him.

Mike Mayock uses the term "look for work", when describing what a coverage player must do when his receiver goes to the ground.

That's exactly what Jenkins did. He looked for work, and helped Keith Brooking cover Tahi out of the backfield.

But once Favre made Spears miss, the unaccounted for Rice had time to get off the ground and give Favre a place to throw the football.

The outstanding improvisation by Favre and Rice resulted in a 16-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead.

When a play like that happens, defensive coaches just shake their head. Everyone should shake their head. It's one of those plays that defies scheme, confounds reason, and simply put, makes Brett Favre as special as he is.

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