Brett Favre's tone-setting, 47-yard first quarter touchdown pass to Sidney Rice might have never happened, had Gerald Sensabaugh waved an arm, made a tackle, did something as he strode step for step with Rice down the sideline. Instead, he seemed a spectator as he watched Rice walk into the end zone for the first of a slew of Vikings touchdown on the day.
But calling Sensabaugh a 'spectator' would imply that the safety saw something. And, apparently, all Sensabaugh saw was Rice celebrating his touchdown long after the fact.
"I didn't even know he caught it," Sensabaugh said after the 34-3 beating. "He made a good play. He made the plays. He wasn't running past anybody or anything. I felt we played pretty good."
If you find yourself amazed that Sensabaugh saw all of nothing on the pivotal first quarter play, you're in good company. Head coach Wade Phillips, too, found Sensabaugh's obliviousness, as he blanketed Rice in coverage, to be quite remarkable.
"The guy was running right with him," Phillips said, referring to Sensabaugh. "He never saw the ball, didn’t even know he caught it. The strangest play I've seen in a long time. He didn’t even know they threw the ball to him. If he turns around he intercepts it or knocks it down. We had him covered, I don’t know. It's amazing."
Whether this one play, had it gone differently, made a difference in the game is debatable; it certainly wasn't an isolated incident, and Rice shredded the Cowboys throughout the day, going for six catches, 141 yards, and a Vikings' postseason record three touchdowns.
For some perspective, Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin combined for six catches and 51 yards.