DETROIT – Mike McCarthy left no room for interpretation. Mason Crosby is the Green Bay Packers kicker, despite missing two more field goals Sunday – three, if you count the fact that he missed his 50-yard attempt twice – in the team’s 24-20 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
“I’ll address the field goal situation: Mason’s got to put the ball through the uprights. That’s something that we’ve got to do a better job of,” McCarthy said early in his post-game press conference, preempting questions about Crosby, who came into the game having missed five of his last 10 field goal attempts and is now 11 of 18 on the season. “I thought Mason had a very good week of work. (He) didn’t hit it today the way he needs to hit it, but we’ll continue with Mason. We will not blink as far as our commitment to him.”
Perhaps, but Crosby’s difficult day began with McCarthy deciding on the team’s second offensive possession to eschew a 49-yard field-goal attempt on fourth-and-4 from the Detroit 31-yard line and go for it instead. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw incomplete to Randall Cobb, and while the decision might’ve just been an example of McCarthy being aggressive as he’s been in the past, it at least made one wonder if a statement was being made about his confidence in his kicker.
Crosby’s first opportunity to attempt a field goal then came at the end of the half and he missed – twice. First he missed wide right from 50 yards out, but because Lions coach Jim Schwartz had called timeout, the miss didn’t count. Crosby then promptly missed again, overcompensating and missing wide left.
“Obviously I missed right on the first one and then I pulled it left a little bit. I hit a solid ball, just had a little too much right-to-left movement and didn’t keep it on the right side,” Crosby said. “From that distance, I’ve got to dial it in and make sure I stay smooth and hit a good ball.”
Despite those misses, McCarthy trotted him back out early in the fourth quarter to apparently attempt a 58-yarder, but when tight end Tom Crabtree went in motion as if the Packers were running a fake, Crabtree was flagged for an illegal shift and the 5-yard penalty led to a punt instead.
He would another chance – and miss again – midway through the fourth quarter, sailing a 38-yarder wide left with 8:37 left to play and the Packers trailing 17-14. And while he did make the go-ahead extra point after Cobb’s touchdown catch and tacked on a 39-yard field goal with 24 seconds left to make sure the Lions couldn’t win the game with a field goal.
But his misses were certainly the story, not his successes.
“With how the day had been going, those were definitely big kicks. That’s where I look back and my last two kicks today were good. That’s how I want it to be. I just have to do that every time,” said Crosby, who went 24 for 28 on field-goal attempts last season. “Each year is different. You just have to work through it I guess. Last year I started off really hot and ended up with a great percentage, but I’ve got to keep making kicks. Just grind through the week and focus on hitting a good ball and putting it on line and giving myself an opportunity at putting it through the uprights. That’s my job, and that’s what I intend to do.
“It’s a day inside where we could’ve gone 3-for-3, should’ve gone 3-for-3. But I didn’t, and I hit the last kick there and I have to kind of build off that kick there and move forward.”
McCarthy later reiterated his support of Crosby, saying: “It’s just like anything in life professionally: You have the opportunity to work with an individual every day and you see what they’re about, their mentality, their commitment, their preparation leading up to it. I have no reasons not to believe in him. Now, I can see your pens are all writing and I understand he’s missing kicks in games. The bottom line is this is about performance on Sundays and I have all of the confidence that Mason’s going to get that back because we need him.”
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