DETROIT – Each time the ball left Mason Crosby’s right foot and floated left, right and nearly ever true, he doubled over in angst. And each time, the Green Bay Packers suffered a gut punch.
The easy math shows the margin of Detroit’s 31-23 victory Sunday over Green Bay at Ford Field as less than the sum total of Crosby’s four missed field goals and one extra point. But it’s never that simple. The Packers would have trailed 7-3 had his first 41-yard attempt sailed through the uprights, and the Lions went ahead 14-0 four plays after that – but his next four missed kicks came in chase mode.
It was a career-worst day for the 12-year veteran, as he went 1-for-5 on field goals and 0-for-1 on extra points. An “anomaly in life,” he called it.
But each early miss was the bitter aftertaste of stalled offensive drives at the Lions 23-, 24- and 20-yard lines. A 56-yard miss in the third quarter came after an illegal shift nullified a 13-yard first-down completion from Aaron Rodgers to Jimmy Graham. Instead of continuing the drive, the Packers stalled at the Lions’ 38.
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Crosby had never missed that many field goals in a game, with his career-high for misses in a single contest being two — a number he had reached nine previous times but not since a Nov. 10, 2013 loss to Philadelphia.
“I don’t get this much attention unless it’s really bad or extremely good,” Crosby said. “This one unfortunately was really bad and going to have to really look at this one. This one hurts a bunch. Left a lot of points on the field for this team. Disappointed in my performance. Yeah, this is … look back I’m thinking to my childhood, high school, this is definitely one of the worst. So bummed about that.”
In the immediate aftermath, rookie long snapper Hunter Bradley and Crosby felt good about the operation of the snap and hold but said they would examine it further on tape — but on turf, indoors, the veteran took responsibility.
“Honestly, just felt good, felt good in pregame, my warmup was excellent, so just couldn’t find the lines today,” he said. “I just kept adjusting and just didn’t, it wasn’t going in. Disappointing obviously being inside, how I’ve been hitting the ball, for me that just feels like one of those days because I feel extremely good this year with how I’m striking it. So we’ll get back to work and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
After Detroit scored following his first miss, the Packers forced punts after the next three. And the extra-point miss in the fourth quarter prevented the team from drawing within 10 points with 9:01 left in the game.
The Packers’ offense kept gasping, never able to catch its breath or the Lions. The misses only further restricted the airflow.
Which is why each teammate who spoke about Crosby placed some of that weight on their own shoulders. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers told Crosby he loved him and acknowledged his own missed chances postgame. Defensive lineman Dean Lowry spoke about being more concerned about the 12 penalties called on them. Wide receiver Davante Adams noted his late dropped ball and other chances for the offense to pick him up.
“This league finds a way to humble you at some point, even when you don’t need it,” said Tramon Williams, Crosby’s teammate for 145 regular-season and postseason games, spanning over a decade.
“It’s really tough. But I have no doubt in my mind that Mason’s going to come back and kicks as well as he always has. 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.”
In his career, Crosby has followed the games in which he has missed two field goals by going 51-for-56 (91 percent) in the games he kicked in immediately afterward.
There was a slight measure of satisfaction in the 41-yard field goal he did make with two seconds left to make it a one-score game, and perhaps it illustrated Crosby’s insistence that he didn’t dwell on each mounting miss. But neither that, nor the support in the locker room, will make the trip back to Green Bay any easier.
“That’s disappointing, they laid it all on the line, this team lays it on the line, and it’s my job to knock those through,” Crosby said. “And I didn’t come through.”