GREEN BAY – All week, every player and coach associated with the Packers expressed the utmost confidence in Mason Crosby after the most trying game of his 12-year NFL career.
On Monday night, Green Bay’s all-time leading scorer showed why.
After a forgettable outing last Sunday in Detroit, Crosby got right back in his groove inside the friendly confines of Lambeau Field by making all four of his field goals and three extra points to propel the Packers to a 33-30 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Crosby could feel the support of the 77,642 in attendance from his first make from 29 yards right through his game-winning 27-yarder as time expired. Crosby also was good from 39 and 51 to effectively put his five misses against the Lions behind him.
“This week was a grind,” said Crosby, who has now made a game-winning kick in each of the past three seasons. “It was one of the tougher weeks of my career, just making sure I didn’t overreact, overanalyze everything. I really did a great job of just locking in and making sure I had good tempo and I kind of just flushed last week and made sure that if I was called upon again this week I was going to come through.”
As the first Packers player to walk onto the field Monday night, Crosby said he did a lot of “soul-searching” this week to make sure he was locked in with his preparation.
While the emotions were high during his 27-yarder at the end of regulation, Crosby actually was “more amped up for” the extra point that tied the game at 30 after Davante Adams’ 16-yard touchdown catch with 1 minute, 55 seconds remaining.
After the game in Detroit, Head Coach Mike McCarthy, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and every player questioned in the Packers’ locker room came to the veteran kicker’s defense.
On the other side of the equation, nobody was surprised to see Crosby respond the way he did against the 49ers.
“He’s been a great kicker throughout his career,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “You don’t have a career like that if you’re not mentally tough. He came out and showed it today. It wasn’t a coincidence it came down to this today. For me personally to see my brother come out and perform like that after the week he had … it was great to see.”
Admittedly tired, Crosby is looking forward to getting a chance to reset with the Packers’ Week 7 bye. One thing he has learned from the first six weeks of the season is how much his team has his back.
“You see how special this team is,” Crosby said. “The chemistry that this locker room has, everyone is always bringing each other up, trying to make sure that we have each other’s back. The guys never wavered from how they felt about me as a man and as a football player. They knew that I worked really hard this week to make sure that I would come through if I was called on this week for this game.”
Timely pick: Second-year cornerback Kevin King could not have picked a better time to snag the first interception of his NFL career.
With the 49ers sitting at Green Bay’s 46 with a little more than one minute remaining, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine dialed up a blitz that left King in single coverage against San Francisco receiver Marquise Goodwin on third-and-3.
Without any safety help over the top, King stayed stride-for-stride with the former Olympian and picked off San Francisco quarterback C.J. Beathard to give Green Bay’s offense the ball back at its own 10 with 1:07 remaining.
“Kev made a heck of a play, especially against 11 who has world-class speed,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “He made a huge play when we needed it. Obviously, we preach it all the time, turnovers, give the ball back to our offense and good things are going to happen.”
It was one of three takeaways for the Packers, who turned them all into points. Reserve safety Raven Greene forced a fumble of 49ers kickoff returner D.J. Reed in the first quarter, which linebacker James Crawford recovered.
In addition to his first NFL interception, King also recovered a Kyle Juszczyk fumble, which was forced by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the second quarter.
“I’ve just got to stay the course, keep doing your job, keep it going, and those types of plays are going to come,” King said. “You’ve just got to make it when it comes.”
A time to reflect: Tight end Jimmy Graham played with a heavy heart after learning shortly before Monday night’s game that Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen had passed away at 65 years old.
Graham grew close to Allen during his three seasons with the Seahawks and ended his postgame media scrum by going out of his way to acknowledge the impact Allen had on him as a person.
“I was pretty close with him,” Graham said. “He really helped me through my knee injury, doing some things for me. Just my heart goes out to his family. What an incredible person, selfless and opened up and really helped me at a pivotal time in my career when I really needed it.”
Big stops: The Packers’ defense saved its best for last against the 49ers, forcing a pair of three-and-outs during the final eight minutes of regulation prior to King’s interception.
Defensive tackle Kenny Clark stopped San Francisco running back Matt Breida on first-and-10 from the 49ers’ 4 with 7:46 left before linebacker Blake Martinez dropped Raheem Mostert for a 1-yard loss on the next series to keep San Francisco in second-and-long.
That was important considering the Packers struggled to stymie San Francisco’s offense in the first three quarters with Beathard throwing for 245 yards on 16 completions and the 49ers racking up 174 rushing yards on the ground.
“It slowed their tempo down,” said Clark, who also had a sack in the second quarter. “When we got them in longer fields, we were getting off the field and sacking them, but they had us in third-and-short the whole game, and they were able to run or pass it.”
Stepping up: Although Bryan Bulaga missed the first few series of the second half due to a shoulder injury, he was back manning his post at right tackle during the Packers’ fourth-quarter rally.
“I mean he’s a warrior,” said left tackle David Bakhtiari of Bulaga, who also has battled knee and back injuries in recent weeks. “It’s something on this offensive line that’s been instilled even before I got here. If you can move, you better play. I expect nothing less from him. I’m proud of him, obviously. It’s a good thing we have a bye.”
Byron Bell, already starting at right guard in place of an injured Justin McCray, slid over to right tackle in Bulaga’s absence with Lucas Patrick filling in momentarily at right guard.