Mason Crosby rewards Packers' faith with yet another clutch moment

Veteran kicker drills 57-yarder to remain perfect on field-goal attempts this year

Packers K Mason Crosby reacts to his 57-yard field goal in the 4th quarter of Green Bay's 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

Matt LaFleur had a decision to make.

With his team clinging to a seven-point lead over Detroit on Sunday at Ford Field, the Packers' second-year head coach was weighing two options after a false start on the field-goal operation pushed Green Bay back to the Lions' 39-yard line.

The conservative thing to do would be to punt. After all, he and special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga already discussed the 37-yard line being the max range for kicker Mason Crosby.

Or LaFleur could "fudge it a little" and elect to still try the 57-yarder that would push Crosby's limit but also give Green Bay a two-score advantage with a little more than three minutes left if he made it.

As Mennenga readied the punt team, LaFleur looked at his 36-year-old kicker and asked one question: "Can you hit this?"

Crosby replied simply: "Yes."

LaFleur sent his 14th-year kicker back on the field and was rewarded for his trust when Crosby drilled his longest field goal in seven years to provide the Packers some breathing room in an eventual 31-24 win over the Lions that clinched a second consecutive NFC North championship for Green Bay.

"That's a lot of faith and belief in Mason's abilities," LaFleur said. "He knows himself. He's been doing it a long time and I'm just glad, definitely, he made us right."

The field goal was Crosby's longest since a 57-yarder against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 3, 2013, and the second-longest of his career besides his franchise-record make from 58 on Oct. 23, 2011, in Minnesota.

Still, it was a high-stakes call on LaFleur's part. If Crosby came up empty, the Lions would've taken over at midfield down seven with 3:30 still on the clock and two timeouts remaining.

Instead, Detroit had to eat another 1:41 off the clock before settling for a Matt Prater 32-yard field goal to move back within a touchdown.

Any hope of a comeback was extinguished with Jack Fox's onside kick going out of bounds and then Aaron Rodgers hitting tight end Robert Tonyan on a play-action rollout for a first down that was needed for Green Bay to run the clock out on its 10th win of the season.


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And it started with Crosby hitting from 57 to remain a perfect 15-of-15 on field-goal attempts this season.

If that wasn't enough, Crosby also made the tackle on the ensuing kickoff to push Detroit's Pro Bowl returner Jamal Agnew out of bounds at the Green Bay 33 – a pivotal play that preceded the defense limiting the Lions to a field goal.

"I just love him," said Rodgers of Crosby. "He's made some really big kicks over the years. He's always had a little gray in his hair but he's got a lot of gray in his hair now and still has such a big leg and can make it from way back."

Ford Field hasn't always been a kind venue for Crosby. His career in Green Bay nearly came to an end on that turf when he missed four field goals and an extra point there during a 31-23 loss to the Lions back in 2018.

Since that nightmarish afternoon, Crosby has made 56 of his last 60 field goals (93.3%) for the Packers. Last year, he tied Jan Stenerud's franchise record for highest made field-goal percentage in a season (91.6%).

The Green Bay Packers faced the Detroit Lions in a Week 14 matchup at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

And he's on pace to top it again with three regular-season games remaining.

"That's huge by Mason, man," receiver Davante Adams said. "I love Mason to death, so I think he'd be OK with me bringing up the fact that he obviously hasn't kicked the way he wants to in this situation (in) this building.

"I'm sure that jumped to the forefront of his mind running out there, especially with the penalty getting it pushed back another five yards. It says a lot about him as well, just the mindset to say let's move past whatever happened before, focus on this and get it done because my team needs me. We obviously needed that."

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