GREEN BAY — Each time the ball sailed through the uprights — something that happened quite a lot on Monday night, including on the 27-yard game-winner as time expired — the Lambeau Field crowd was in full throat. Doing everything they could to support Mason Crosby after a disastrous performance the prior week, the 77,642 fans in attendance wanted to do their part to support the Green Bay Packers veteran kicker.
And Crosby responded by doing his part, too. Did he ever.
After missing four field goals and an extra point in last week’s loss at Detroit — the worst performance of Crosby’s 11-year NFL career — Crosby made every kick he took on Monday night, connecting on field goals of 29, 39 and 51 yards, making all three of his PATs and then drilling the walk-off 27-yarder to give the Packers a much-needed 33-30 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
“I was trying to figure out if it was kind of a sarcastic cheer,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the fans’ reaction to each of Crosby’s kicks. “But I think it was pretty heartfelt.”
It surely was on the last two, as Rodgers led a pair of 2-minute drives that first led to Crosby kicking the game-tying 33-yard extra point after Rodgers’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams, then set Crosby up after a 21-yard sprint by Rodgers and back-to-back 19-yard strikes to Adams and Equanimeous St. Brown put the ball at San Francisco’s 9-yard line with 3 seconds left.
“Just so thankful for the Packers organization and my teammates just sticking with me knowing I’ve bounced back a lot in my career,” said Crosby, who suffered through a horrendous 2012 season but was terrific the five years that followed. “I had no days like last week (in Detroit), but this is a special one. This is one of my better days. And to be able to go out there and perform the way I did after last week (was great). Did a lot of soul-searching this week and made sure I really locked in on my preparation. And it paid off.”
Crosby, who missed five kicks — 41-, 42-, 38- and 56-yard field-goal attempts and one 33-yard extra point — during the Packers’ 31-23 loss at Detroit, said he didn’t do anything vastly different during the week. He confessed to being nervous Monday night – but not on the game-winner as much as the extra point that tied the game with 1 minute 55 seconds to go.
“You know, honestly, the extra point to tie the game was the one that I was a little more amped up for, making sure I knocked that through. But that last one was just kind of muscle memory,” Crosby explained. “The snap came, I felt like I was pretty quick on it and everything was perfect. The protection was great. … I was in the zone.
“It’s special whenever it all comes together that way, and I’m just so thankful for the week of work I had and the guys, how much they never wavered from how they felt about me. To be able to come through like this after a week like I had last week is pretty special.”
When Rodgers vented his frustration with the Packers’ offensive game plan two weeks ago after a 22-0 shutout win over Buffalo on Sept. 30, he specifically said the Packers needed to get the ball to Adams and tight end Jimmy Graham more.
Monday night, he got what he wanted.
Adams finished with 10 receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 16 targets, while Graham finished with five receptions for 104 yards on nine targets. Rookie wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, playing extensively for the third straight week with Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison each inactive because of hamstring injuries, caught three passes for 103 yards, including a 60-yard catch-and-run, as well.
“(This game) was how we need to play moving forward,” Rodgers said. “Sixteen targets for Davante, nine for Jimmy — that’s where we want to be.”
The game marked Graham’s first 100-yard receiving game since he had 103 yards for Seattle against Buffalo on Nov. 7, 2016. Graham went all of last season without eclipsing 100 yards in a game; his biggest game last year was a seven-catch, 72-yard game against Tennessee early in the year.
Rodgers said he’s hoping team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie allows him to play without his left knee brace when the team returns to game action Oct. 28 at the Los Angeles Rams. “I’d love to take the brace off after the bye but we’ll see how I respond (Tuesday) and this week and next week and probably get some sort of image taken. That would be nice, to be feeling great next Wednesday (Oct. 24).” … The Packers had to juggle their offensive line when right tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a shoulder injury. Byron Bell, starting at right guard for Justin McCray, shifted to right tackle and Lucas Patrick came off the bench at right guard, with McCray (shoulder) active only in case of emergency. When Bulaga returned in the second half, Bell went back to right guard. Despite the juggling, “we didn’t really stay away from anything,” McCarthy said. … Lost in Rodgers’ and Crosby’s heroics were Kevin King’s interception to get the Packers the ball back for their game-winning drive and Ty Montgomery’s 14-yard run to start the drive on the next play. McCarthy called King’s interception “a huge play to even give us a chance to have the final series,” and Rodgers said the run play to Montgomery was the brainchild of left tackle David Bakhtiari. “I have to give him credit or I’ll hear about it tomorrow,” Rodgers said.
Source: The Associated Press