Mason Crosby answers the call on game-winning field goal

Yosh Nijman comes through at left tackle for Packers

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Packers kicker Mason Crosby reacts to his 51-yard game-winning field goal in Sunday night's 30-28 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Emotions were as high as they can get after Aaron Rodgers completed the second of his two key throws to Davante Adams on the Packers' final offensive drive on Sunday night at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

But before the Packers could get back on the plane with a grueling win over San Francisco, it was up to longtime kicker Mason Crosby to do what he does best after Rodgers clocked the ball at the 49ers' 33-yard line with 3 seconds remaining.

Like he has for the past 14 years, Crosby again came through for the Packers in the biggest moment imaginable, drilling a game-winning, 51-yard field goal as time expired to propel Green Bay to a 30-28 road win.

"Operation was great. Protection was solid. I felt really good from that spot," Crosby said. "As soon as I hit it, I was kind of leaning, and then I was trying to get a visual on it to make sure it had the distance, nothing crazy happened, and then I just kind of went blank. Took off running. Everybody else was watching. I was already going."

It was Crosby's third field goal of the evening after he also made a season-long 54-yarder in the first quarter and a 38-yard attempt earlier in the fourth.

His 51-yarder extended his streak to 22 consecutive made attempts in the regular season, which is the second-longest streak in franchise history behind only the 23 in a row Crosby made from 2010-11.

To get there, Rodgers made two huge throws to Adams during a picture-perfect 42-yard drive that began with only 37 seconds left and no timeouts remaining.

Adams showed good awareness getting down after his 25-yard completion in the middle of the field and then after the 17-yard grab on third-and-10 that gave Rodgers more than enough time to clock the ball.

"I think my line was 36-, 38-yard line, in that range, like kind of normal situations and then I definitely said 40-42 if we need a 60-yarder, we can rip one and try," Crosby said. "Aaron, he found Tae there across the middle. He's just so efficient. He knows how much time we need, when he needs to release it so we can get down there and spike it and go execute that play."

It was the biggest test to date for Crosby and new holder Corey Bojorquez, who joined the team earlier this month following a trade with the Los Angeles Rams.

During Crosby's kick, Rodgers could be seen kneeling on the sidelines. As soon as the kick sailed through the uprights, Rodgers gave a fist pump before jumping to his feet to celebrate yet another memorable moment with the only kicker he's known since becoming the Packers' starting quarterback in 2008.

"We've played together for a long time and he knows he did his part and he trusts that I'm gonna go out there and do mine," said Crosby who's made all four of his field goals this season after going a perfect 16-of-16 in 2020. "I'm always happy when I can come through and finish off a game like that."

Nijman comes through: The Packers invested more than two years developing Yosh Nijman from an intriguing undrafted prospect and into an NFL tackle.

So, when it became apparent the ankle injury Elgton Jenkins sustained on Monday night was going to sideline the Packers' replacement left tackle against the 49ers, Green Bay's coaching staff didn't hesitate to move Nijman into that spot.

In his first regular-season start in 1,044 days, Nijman had a tough assignment lining up across from Nick Bosa but came through and ably protected the blindside of three-time MVP quarterback Rodgers throughout.

The 6-foot-7 Nijman was flagged for a facemask penalty early on against the 6-3 Bosa, which he attributed to the size difference between the two and the low angle Bosa rushes from. Nijman made the necessary adjustment with his pad level and played a clean four quarters from there.

"My mindset was like, it didn't matter who was playing left tackle or right tackle or center, it's like we have a standard in this offensive line room and I knew I had to step up," said Nijman about the key to his first start since a game between Virginia Tech and Miami (Fla.) on Nov. 17, 2018.

"I just want my teammates to know they can count on me. I'm just grateful they were supportive of me all the way through, even before the game. Just giving me positive affirmations of really trusting me and believing in me. I took that and I rolled with it along with the confidence I have that I could go out and play and help this team win a game."

Nijman credited starting left tackle David Bakhtiari, who's currently on the physically unable to perform list, and Jenkins for their encouragement this week and reminding him the team is equally as confident in Nijman's ability to get the job done.

With the game on the line, Nijman breathed those words to life when he helped keep the pocket clean for Rodgers to connect twice with Adams, which set up Crosby's game-winning field goal.

Afterwards, Head Coach Matt LaFleur and Adams both praised Nijman for staying even-keeled in such a critical spot.

"When we switched sides of the field in the fourth quarter, he's walking by me and I'm turning everybody up going crazy. He goes, 'Man, it's just a blessing to play with you guys, I really enjoy this,'" Adams said. "It kind of slowed me down for a second and I just got really appreciative for having a teammate like that."

View some of the best photos from the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on Sept. 26, 2021.

A special coach: LaFleur didn't go into specifics but commended special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton for "coaching on a heavy heart" Sunday after losing "a couple people really close to him."

Drayton was promoted to coordinator this year after previously serving as the team's assistant special teams coach since 2018.

"His ability to stay with us and lead our special teams means a lot to everybody in that locker room. I can't say enough great things about Mo," LaFleur said.

"I know we gave up the one return, but I think our special teams have really come a long way. It's due to his leadership, his ability to teach, communicate, how he empowers Rayna Stewart and Connor Lewis to help coach with him and get the guys excited about teams. That is noticeable. I know he's dealing with a lot right now but he's special."

Stepping up on defense: The Packers' defense had to overcome its share of adversity, beginning with the loss of cornerback Kevin King to an illness earlier in the day.

Inside linebacker Krys Barnes also left with a concussion in the second quarter, which led to Ty Summers playing on run downs next to inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell and Oren Burks handling some sub-packages.

"That's the thing about pro football. You have to have the next-man-up mentality," said Campbell, who had a game-high 11 tackles and a key fumble recovery in the second half. "Anything can happen at any time. It's a very physical and violent sport. You have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Krys went down and I ended up having to start on punt tonight on top of playing every snap of defense."

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