GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers didn't even need to look at the uprights to tell the kick was good.
All the Packers' quarterback had to do was glance at his kicker, the only one Rodgers has known during his 13-year run as Green Bay's starting QB, to know Mason Crosby just made his most difficult field goal of the season this past Sunday at Ford Field.
"I think kickers pretty much always know," said Rodgers during his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday. "A lot of times you watch the kick and you go right back to the kicker. I looked back at Mas and I could tell it was going in."
Crosby's 57-yard strike marked his longest make in seven years and was essential to the Packers turning back the Detroit Lions 31-24 to clinch back-to-back NFC North crowns.
As the only remaining members of the Super Bowl XLV team, Rodgers and Crosby share a bond few QBs and kickers in NFL history have ever experienced, having now played together in 187 regular-season games.
While it's no longer uncommon for the elite at either position to play upwards of 15 seasons in today's NFL, few duos in league history have shared a locker room longer than Rodgers and Crosby. The only other active QB and kicker to play together longer, Tom Brady and Stephen Gostkowski, saw their streak end at 193 regular-season games this past year.
"It's been a blast. I really have a lot of admiration and respect for him," Rodgers said. "Mason obviously has been around for so long. He's been a part of so many big wins and he's been a big part of some of those wins, thinking about some of the great kicks he's made over the years, some of the momentum swingers that he's been a part of."
Now 13 games into the 2020 season, Rodgers (194 regular-season games) has joined Crosby (221) inside the top five for most games played in Packers history – having been teammates through 11 playoff appearances, eight NFC North titles, five NFC title games and the Super Bowl triumph in February 2011.
Over that time, Rodgers became a two-time NFL MVP, an eight-time Pro Bowler and a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, while Crosby comfortably sits as the franchise's all-time leading scorer (1,667), a figure that ranks 20th all-time in league history.
As the only kicker with 15 or more field-goal attempts without a miss this year, the 36-year-old Crosby is on pace to reset his own franchise record for single-season accuracy. A year ago, he tied Jan Stenerud by making 22-of-24 attempts (91.6%).
With Rodgers making a convincing argument for his third MVP this season, the Packers currently boast the league's highest-ranked scoring (31.5 points per game) and red-zone offenses (77.1%). The offensive efficiency has contributed to Crosby making a league-high 47 extra points.
"I get to have a front row seat to his excellence on Sundays and get to see him do his thing," Crosby said. "Every time I think we're in a situation where I'm gonna go out there and kick a field goal, he seems to keep finding ways to get that ball in the end zone."
Like Rodgers, Crosby has been a portrait of reliability through his career. His 221 consecutive games played are 80 games (or five full seasons) more than the next closest active kicker (Baltimore's Justin Tucker).
To get there, however, Crosby has overcome his share of adversity – whether it was a challenging 2012 campaign that required him to win his job back the following summer or the five kicks he missed in October 2018 at Ford Field, the same venue where he shined this past Sunday.
Rodgers has been there for every triumph and every setback. When Crosby struggled in that game against the Lions two years ago, Rodgers was the first to throw an arm around his longtime colleague.
"(I) couldn't have asked for a better teammate, a better friend," Crosby said. "I've been very fortunate to be on the sideline and get to go out there and be a teammate to Aaron Rodgers. It's something that I'll cherish and remember forever."
And the same also holds true on a personal level.
A year ago, Mason's wife, Molly, was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer just days before Mason was set to defend his job against a challenge from Sam Ficken during training camp.
The entire locker room rallied around Mason during that trying time, but perhaps nobody more than Rodgers. Molly underwent surgery at the end of the preseason to remove the neuroendocrine tumor on her right lung – and the day after surgery Mason was informed he won his job again.
"Aaron has been there for him in just the most incredible ways and the things that he wouldn't want any attention for," said Molly, in an interview with packers.com earlier this season.
"The kind things he has done and the way he's always been there for Mason, as if Mason is not fortunate enough to be kicking for a team that scores the way that they do, I know it means a lot to have the friendship and the support of Aaron."
So when it came time for Crosby to make his most challenging kick of the season this past Sunday, Rodgers had zero doubts. Not after all the game-winners and clutch moments he's witnessed from the sideline over the past decade.
As the Packers get ready to embark on yet another playoff run, the team's two longest-tenured players are looking to add a few more memorable moments to one of the most successful eras in team history – and perhaps another Lombardi Trophy.
"I'm fortunate to have played with him so long," Rodgers said. "I hope there's more years together. I really have enjoyed going to battle with him and just the trust that we all have when '2' takes the field just speaks to how well he's played for us."