DETROIT – Mason Crosby wouldn’t have known he was about to endure perhaps the most challenging game of his 12-year NFL career based on warmups Sunday inside Ford Field.
The Packers’ veteran kicker felt locked in entering the team’s NFC North showdown with Detroit. After drilling a 58-yarder during pregame, Crosby headed to the locker room with the full intention of building on a strong start to a 2018 campaign that had seen him make 10 of his first 11 field-goal attempts.
Instead, things spiraled the wrong way for Crosby against the Lions in missing field goals from 41, 42, 38 and 56 yards, along with one extra point, during Green Bay’s eventual 31-23 defeat.
Crosby said he didn’t feel a snowballing effect from a first miss at the end of the Packers’ first possession. The franchise’s all-time leading scorer tried to make adjustments, changing his cleats at one point, but just couldn’t find the right lines.
“It’s a frustrating one just because honestly, like I said, pregame was good, felt solid,” Crosby said. “Honestly, every attempt I felt like I was in rhythm going through it. It was one of those days that just wasn’t there. I’ve done this a long time, and I’ve never had a day where it wasn’t there like that. We’ll look at it, look at every facet of it and flush it and hopefully move on.”
Crosby’s first three attempts were all within striking distance. He narrowly missed wide left on his first try, hit the right upright from 42, pushed it right from 38 and then had an extra point hit the left upright.
As challenging as the day was, Crosby was blown away by the support of his teammates. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers put his arm around Crosby and consoled him after one miss, while several players rallied around the veteran kicker after Crosby made his last attempt from 41 with two seconds remaining.
“Mason and I have been close friends for a long time,” said Rodgers afterward. “We sit next to each other on the planes. We’ve known each other for years, obviously spent some holidays together. I love him. He’s a great guy. I think he’s one of the greatest kickers of all time. I’ve always said he and Robbie Gould, what they do in the elements over the years is some of the finest kicking that I’ve seen in my time.”
Crosby’s misses were only one contributing factor to the outcome Sunday. The Packers were flagged 12 times for 112 yards, and lost three fumbles in the first half, which the Lions translated into 17 points.
Green Bay’s special teams also had a holding penalty wipe out a long Ty Montgomery kickoff return, while a controversial ruling on Sam Martin’s first punt of the game gave Detroit the ball at Green Bay’s 1-yard line.
There has been a lot of turnover on Green Bay’s special teams in recent years, requiring Crosby to adjust to a new holder in each of the past four seasons and a new long snapper this year in rookie seventh-round pick Hunter Bradley.
Through the ups and downs, Crosby has always been the constant. Even when he encountered a turbulent 2012 season when he made only 63 percent of his field goals, Crosby rallied for a career year in 2013 after the organization stood with him.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy chose to send Crosby on the field with the decision in hand to attempt a 41-yarder, which he made to end the game on a slightly positive note.
“I have no doubt in my mind Mason is going to come back and kick as well as he always has,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “I know it’s a mental burden on him right now, but that’s what his teammates are here for and we’re going to be behind him the whole time.”
Crosby said he feels fine from a physical standpoint and looks forward to breaking down the film to see what all happened. While it’s the worst game he can remember dating back to grade school, Crosby won’t let it define him.
He’s also thankful for a collection of coaches and teammates who voiced their support for him until the final whistle Sunday.
“I have the best teammates in the world,” Crosby said. “So I’ve got to keep stepping that up and making sure that they know every day I’m working as hard as I can to be the best that I can. “We do this as a team – we win, lose, everything that we do is as a team and you can feel that with this locker room for sure.”