Crosby's confidence soaring after quintet of kicks
GREEN BAY—It wasn't a blowout. It wasn't against a crummy team.
For 3½ quarters, the Green Bay Packers turned to their kicker and asked him to deliver.
And he did.
Mason Crosby was 5-for-5 against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, making field goals from 26, 52, 31, 42 and 45 yards. Adding an extra point, he provided 16 points in the Packers' important 22-9 NFC North victory at Lambeau Field.
And the best part for him wasn't validation of his ability or the crickets from the critics, it was to be able to come off the field and look his teammates in the eyes.
“It's great whenever you walk off the field and you look at your teammates and know that you did your job,” said Crosby. “And then you can go and see your family and friends and know that they've been behind you through this whole thing.”
Confidence is so vital to a kicker. And Crosby has his back.
It was the first time in his career that he hit five field goals in one game.
“It is my first time ever with five field goals,” said Crosby. “I'm really pumped about that. At the same time, it's awesome that it came with a win.”
This game may have finally put the struggles of the last year far enough in the rear-view mirror: the up-and-down 2012 season; the fierce battle for his job against Giorgio Tavecchio this summer; restructuring his once-impressive contract; and handing kickoff duties over to punter Tim Masthay.
All he's had to do since is worry about field goals.
“Ever since Family Night, I feel like I've come into my own,” said Crosby, who hit only 3-of-8 on that August night. “And come in to the type of kicker I want to be: the guy that goes out there and makes kicks and guys rely on me to go out there and make it in games like this where it's kind of a battle.”
Crosby also was pretty excited because he's always played in an Aaron Rodgers-Mike McCarthy offense and that doesn't always lead to many field goal chances. The Packers have been high-scoring, and that means touchdowns.
But as Green Bay continued to find its identity Sunday with a new running game, the touchdowns weren't happening.
“I want to score touchdowns as much as anyone else because that means we're putting up points,” said Crosby. “But whenever I'm called, I want to take advantage of it. This team, there's going to be different ways we win games. We find ways to win, and that's the most important point.”
Rodgers said it was great to see Crosby kick up to his ability.
“He's got one of the biggest legs in the league, and when he's rolling he's one of the best, if not the best,” said Rodgers. “I'm proud of him. He went through some stuff in training camp, took a lot of flak last year obviously, but we're glad he's our guy.”
After James Jones' 27-yard touchdown was called back in the fourth quarter, Crosby hit the fifth field goal. He tied the team record with it; Ryan Longwell also hit five against Arizona in 2000 and Chris Jacke hit five twice in his career.
This season, Crosby is 9-for-9. The 52-yarder was a confidence-builder in the second quarter, with light winds and perfect conditions in the south end of Lambeau.
“I didn't hit it as high as I wanted to,” said Crosby. “It didn't come off with a ton of elevation, but obviously it was enough. But it was right down the middle and that was my thing, just hit a good strike on the ball. Down on that end, even though there's not that much wind down there, as I'm learning the new Lambeau I guess, that new side I just have to kind of blast one down the middle. Take the side wind out of it and just hit it.”
Crosby allowed himself Sunday night to enjoy the accomplishments, but by the time you're reading this, he's already moved on. That's how he handled the valleys of his career and that's how he will handle this high point as well.
“I will feel this and build from it and make sure that I carry it on with me because this is a day I will remember, for sure,” said Crosby.