GREEN BAY – Mason Crosby’s 58.6 success rate on field-goal attempts entering Sunday’s game certainly wasn’t giving fans much to cheer about.
But what the Green Bay Packers’ kicker did Sunday – hitting both a 26-yard and a 48-yard field goal to go 2-for-2 during the team’s 55-7 rout of the Tennessee Titans – had fans on their feet and excited.
The support from the fans is certainly a change from those who have been calling for Crosby’s release over the last month, but it is support that Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy values nonetheless.
“I was very happy for him personally that he was 2-for-2 today,” McCarthy said. “And I really appreciate the crowd the way they're behind that young man. Because he's our guy and he's going to perform for us down the stretch.”
When someone suggested that the Lambeau Field faithful may be sarcastically cheering for Crosby, McCarthy snapped back, “Sarcastic cheer? How the hell do you tell the difference between it? I've been in this league a long time and I can't tell the difference between a sarcastic cheer with 70,000 people and a real cheer. I thought they were supporting the kicker."
Entering Sunday, Crosby had missed at least one field-goal attempt in each of the Packers’ previous eight games. The last time Crosby had at least one attempt and did not miss was on Sept. 24 at Seattle. Despite his struggles, McCarthy and Crosby’s teammates have been publicly unwavering in their support of their kicker. And that support paid off on Sunday.
“It means everything,” Crosby said. “This is a team. I’ve been through a lot with them, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to be. I’m going to keep battling. I put a lot into it. A lot of heart, a lot of work, a lot of detail into my preparation and I think my teammates see that.
“I want to go out there and be accountable and hold myself to a high standard so I execute for my team. Today that’s what ended up happening and I couldn’t ask for a better finish for today, and get that big win. We definitely were clicking on all phases.”
The Packers’ 48-point victory was their best all-around performance of the season, and the successful showing from offense, defense, and special teams is what Crosby was focused on after the win.
“We played a full game today,” Crosby said. “I think that’s what we needed to do. I think for this team, I’m so happy I was able to drill those through and just keep it rolling. This team, we just fight so hard, so that’s special for me. I’m excited to see us put together a whole game, all three phases, and it couldn’t be at a better time as we’re moving forward here and heading toward these playoffs.”
Packers’ punter Tim Masthay, who holds for Crosby and is also one of his closest friends on the team, said it was nice to see the kicker back on point, and he hoped Sunday’s performance would be the confidence builder that Crosby needed to get past his previous struggles.
“I’ve been thinking that for a long time – that all we need is to go out and have one game where we making everything and it’ll be a real big confidence boost and will settle us down, make us feel normal again,” Masthay said. “So I thought that was really good.”
Over the past few months, Crosby has said he doesn’t agonize over his misses because it doesn’t do him any good. After a perfect game, he said he doesn’t dwell on the kicks he makes, either.
“I evaluate each kick the same,” Crosby said. “I definitely carry those kicks with confidence but we’ll evaluate them the same way. I’ll look at it analytically and make sure that everything’s how it should be. I kicked a lot of balls today. It was a good day. For me, it’s something to carry forward and continue to be accountable and make sure that I can help this team win.”
Crosby’s said he felt his success on Sunday had a lot to do with the work he has put in the last couple of months, and was happy that it was finally paying off.
“I felt good with the preparation and how his day went, how the week went, building up to today,” Crosby said. “I’m just sticking to my stuff. Just working through it, hitting the ball, making kicks. I’m trying to make kicks in practice, so then I carry them and build them into a game. I think this week went as well as it could have and I felt like it built momentum coming into this game, and executed.”
Crosby’s first field goal, a 26-yard chip shot, pushed the Packers’ lead to 17-0. His second, a 48-yarder that caromed off the right upright before going through, made it 20-0 at halftime.
And while the bank shot off the upright could have been seen as good fortune, McCarthy wasn’t worried about style points. He also pointed out that the kick was in the south end zone, which with the construction is “different,” McCarthy said. (He did not want to delve into details.)
“Mason is our kicker,” McCarthy said. “I don't know how long I have to keep saying this, but I thought he kicked well again today. His ball placement was good on the kickoffs. He's hitting the ball very well. He's seeing it.”
Sarah Barshop covers the Packers for ESPNWisconsin.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahbarshop.