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Mason Crosby completes emotional career year with redemptive kick

Packers kicker hits his second game-winner of the season against Lions

K Mason Crosby
K Mason Crosby

DETROIT – As Mason Crosby trotted out with three seconds remaining in Sunday's game against Detroit, the Packers' longtime kicker wasn't thinking about his nightmare last October at Ford Field or everything he's had to overcome during his career year in 2019.

All of Crosby's thoughts were centered on the task at hand – a 33-yard field goal that would seal a 23-20 Packers victory and give Green Bay a first-round bye in the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

And like he has for the last 13 years, Crosby came through for his team when it needed him most with his second game-winning field goal of the season against the Lions. He previously hit a 23-yarder to lift the Packers past Detroit 23-22 in Week 6.

Fourteen months earlier, Crosby had one of the roughest days of his career when he missed four field goals and an extra point in a 31-23 loss in Detroit. On Sunday, he got a slice of redemption.

"Obviously that's what you hope, you hope you can have a little redemption," Crosby said. "I felt like I got a little bit of that the first time we played them (this year). But coming into Ford Field, gosh for some reason it's a tricky place. It's a tricky place to play. I'm just happy I was able to capitalize there at the end to help this team get that bye."

This has been an emotional season for Crosby, who fended off Sam Ficken to maintain the Packers' kicking job in training camp at the same time his wife, Molly, was diagnosed and later treated for a cancerous tumor in her lung.

One month ago to the day, Crosby's sister-in-law, Brittany, passed away at the age of 30 following a three-year cancer battle of her own.

His younger brother, Rees, wasn't in attendance Sunday but maintained his 17-year tradition of sending Mason humorous or inspirational texts before his games. His message Sunday was: "There's going to be a moment, step up and be the man."

And he did.

After providing a shoulder of support for Crosby during his long day against the Lions last year, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was fully confident after kneeling the ball at the Lions' 15-yard line to run the clock down that Crosby would come through.

"Honestly, I'm thinking automatic, I'm thinking he's going to make it. That's the kind of season he's had," Rodgers said. "The best part is I was trying to yell something to him and he was kind of waving me off. He said, 'Was that you trying to yell at me?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Don't do that.' I got it buddy."

The Green Bay Packers faced off against the Detroit Lions in the 2019 regular-season finale at Ford Field.

Crosby's return to Ford Field didn't come without some adversity. After drilling a 32-yard field goal late in the first half, Crosby narrowly missed left on a 51-yard attempt at the start of the third quarter.

He bounced back to make a 40-yarder at the start of the fourth quarter and then the game-winner as time expired, marking the second time this year the Packers have beaten the Lions despite not leading at any point in the game.

It capped a career year for Crosby in which he made 22-of-24 field goals, tying Jan Stenerud's franchise record for best field-goal accuracy in a single season (91.7 percent).

Afterward, he was swarmed by media in the visiting locker room and answered questions only feet away from where he addressed reporters last year after his misses against Detroit.

"Last year, I don't remember where exactly he did the interview. He was like, 'That was the bad luck spot.' I was like, 'No, that's the redemption spot,'" running back Aaron Jones said. "That's our kicker. We stick with him and he got the job done. Love Mason and love everything about him. He's our leader. He's been through a lot and he doesn't let that faze him."

Crosby was quick to credit the offensive line for how it persevered to block on the final drive, especially with center Corey Linsley (back) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion evaluation) both out of the game.

With the win, the Packers have guaranteed themselves a first-round bye and at least one playoff game at Lambeau Field. As Jones added: "If the playoffs have to run through Lambeau, who's better at kicking outside than Mason?"

After everything Crosby has been through in 2019, Sunday's dramatic comeback provided the perfect landscape to a joyous season for the 13-year veteran.

"I have so much to be thankful for," Crosby said. "My heart's been heavy this year. Every time I step on the field, I'm carrying a lot with me, so just give praise to where it belongs. My faith has gotten me through so much this past year and so, yeah, it just means so much."

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