GREEN BAY – Mason Crosby approaches every field goal attempt in the same way.
“I erase a kick as soon as it leaves my foot,” the Green Bay Packers kicker said Sunday after making three of four field-goal attempts in a 23-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. “If I make a kick, miss a kick, I move onto the next one. … I try not to carry that (one) with me. That’s how I simplify the game and I take that pressure of it.”
For weeks, Crosby has been asked repeatedly whether he was feeling the pressure after missing at least one kick in each of the previous five games. Entering Sunday, he’d made 12 of 20 on the season, and seven of his last 15. And while those statistics weren’t exactly encouraging, Crosby said he hadn’t been thinking about it.
Crosby’s first opportunity to quiet the critics came with 4 minutes 11 left in the first quarter on a 30-yard attempt. He made it, but it bounced off the left upright before sneaking through.
“I smiled after that one because I’ve had a couple go the other way so that was good to have one bounce my way on that one,” Crosby said, with a chuckle.
But Crosby had fans worried once again when, right before halftime, he missed a 53-yarder badly. It would have pulled the Packers within 14-13 going into halftime. Those doubts continued when Crosby sailed the second-half kickoff out of bounds, giving the Vikings the ball at their own 40-yard line.
“Yeah, I just tried to drive it, I tried to hit a deep ball, and that one drifted a little more left than I was intending,” Crosby said. “Obviously, you don’t want that to happen, but I kicked off well after that.”
Luckily for Crosby – and the Packers – the defense was able to force a three-and-out, and after a 12-play drive, the stage was set for Crosby once again.
This time, he was good from 47 yards, and the Packers were able to pull within a point. Crosby said he used what he had learned from his miss to end the first half on the kick.
“The long one right before half, I felt I put a good ball on it, I just played it out a little bit too far right,” Crosby said. “That’s one of those you learn from and move on, and I did. I learned there for that 47-yarder and just up a few yards I learned from it and just kept it inside the uprights and then hit a good ball.”
Crosby almost didn’t get a chance at the 47-yard attempt. Facing a fourth-and-7 at the Minnesota 29, head coach Mike McCarthy initially kept his offense out on the field to go for the first down. After the Vikings took a timeout, McCarthy sent his field-goal unit out.
“We refer to it as a tempo call,” McCarthy explained. “That’s something that I decide on third down in that particular range of the field based on the information of where the field-goal range is. We went with a tempo play, liked the play, but once they called the timeout, that’s when I decided to go with the field goal, which was really trusting the chart, and trusting Mason.”
Crosby said he never had any concerns about McCarthy’s confidence in him.
“I never think negative thoughts like that,” Crosby said. “It’s a situation where we’re trying to get some momentum and maybe try to get them into a defense that we like and we can score some points or score a touchdown, or get the first and obviously when they called the timeout, they may have subbed or done some different things, and we wanted the field goal.”
And he shouldn’t have.
“I like the way he responded,” McCarthy said. I’ve been saying it now for a couple weeks. Why do you go for 55-yard field goals? Why do you kick those field goals? We need Mason Crosby. Mason Crosby’s going to kick game-winning field goals for us. I’m not going to wait until the fourth quarter with 3 seconds left in a huge game to start kicking field goals because maybe he’s missed some along the way. I’m with the guy every day. I watch him practice, I believe in him, and that’s not going to change.”
And although the fans may have not had that confidence in their kicker after he had been having trouble finding the uprights, they let him know they were excited with a standing ovation after nailed the long kick.
“Obviously everyone’s excited and that says a lot,” Crosby said. “People want to see me do well, and I want to do well for the fans and for this team and for myself and my family. It’s a good feeling, and for me it builds confidence.”
“I kind of liked that moment. There was a timeout and I’m kind of out on the field and just, the guys were talking and I felt like I got more focused in, I kind of found that focus right there that I needed and just drilled it through.”
Sarah Barshop covers the Packers for ESPNWisconsin.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahbarshop.