By Eric Goska
|Mason Crosby (2) nailed a 51-yard field goal as time ran out|
to send Green Bay past San Francisco 30-28.
(screenshot from NFL Game Pass)
“The kick is up, it has the distance, and Mason Crosby is good!”
While that was not the call in Green Bay’s 30-28 win over San Francisco Sunday night, it could have been. Crosby’s towering, 51-yard goal with no time remaining propelled the Packers past the 49ers 30-28 at Levi’s Stadium.
Yes, Mason Crosby is good. And he has been for some time.
Crosby’s boot was only the second game-winning, walk-off field goal of 50 yards or more in Packers history. It was the first in 25 years.
“That’s what he’s done his entire career. He’s made a bunch of big kicks for us,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told NBC’s Michele Tafoya shortly after the game. “I love him to death. We’ve been playing together for 15 years. We sit next to each other every bus ride, every plane ride. He’s an incredible guy, and he’s so clutch.”
Clutch. Reliable. Money in the bank.
That’s Crosby. He owns just about every kicking record in Packers’ history, some by impressive margins.
Crosby has scored 1,702 regular-season points. Ryan Longwell is second with 1,054. Crosby has toed 349 field goals. Longwell, again, is runner-up, with 226.
Furthermore, Crosby’s winning effort against the 49ers extended his string of successes to 22 in a row. That’s one off the franchise best (23 straight) he established over the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Crosby is so good he’s in danger of being taken for granted in an occupation where one miss can lead to a pink slip.
Few kicks loom bigger than those in the fourth quarter. Especially challenging can be those launched from long range.
And it is in this arena – field goal attempts of 50 yards or more in the fourth quarter or overtime – that Crosby has outperformed every kicker in franchise history combined.
Just four such kicks were attempted by Green Bay in its first 50 years of operation. From 1921 through 1972, Everett (Pid) Purdy, Ted Fritsch (twice) and Tim Webster were the only players to have tried one from 50 or more yards in the fourth frame. All four missed the mark.
Jan Stenerud became the first to nail a 50-yarder in the final 15 minutes when he drilled a 53-yarder in a 37-3 loss in Tampa Bay in 1981. Chris Jacke was the first to do so in overtime when his 53-yarder downed the 49ers 23-20 on a Monday night in 1996.
|In 1996, Chris Jacke (13) kicked the first|
walk-off field goal of 50 or more yards
in Packers history.
That blast by Jacke was the first game-winning, walk-off field goal of 50 or more yards in club history.
Crosby matched that feat – albeit in regulation – in Santa Clara. He was as cool as a December breeze in lofting his winning entry despite San Francisco calling time out to ice him.
(Crosby had a 51-yard, walk-off winner in the postseason, a shot that doomed Dallas 34-31 in January 2017).
If we divide Packers history into BC (before Crosby) and AC (after Crosby), we can see just how often No. 2 has been prevailed upon. From 1921 through 2006, ten different players combined to make just 3 of 17 (.176) fourth-quarter field goals of 50 or more yards. Crosby, alone, has guided 12 of 22 attempts (.545) through the uprights in his career.
Crosby has had his share of failure, too. Included among his 10 misses were a pair that could have delivered victory as time expired. He came up short on a 52-yard try against the Lions in an 18-16 loss at Lambeau Field in 2015, and he was wide left on another 52-yarder in a 29-29 tie with the Vikings in 2018.
Now the 18th leading scorer in NFL history, Crosby has hit on his last four fourth-quarter field goal attempts of 50 or more yards.
Heaping praise upon a kicker can be risky – such talk can lead to a jinx – but Crosby is worthy of the accolades that will come his way. He’s been a rock for much of his career (227 consecutive regular-season outings and counting) and he, no doubt, will be called upon again if Green Bay is to make the playoffs this season.
Packers who attempted at least two fourth-quarter field goals of 50 or more yards during the regular season.
1-2 Jan Stenerud .500 1980-1983
1-2 Ryan Longwell .500 1997-2005
1-3 Chris Jacke .333 1989-1996
0-3 Chester Marcol .000 1972-1980
0-2 Ted Fritsch .000 1942-1950
Pid Purdy (1926-1927), Tim Webster (1971), Tom Birney (1979-1980), Al Del Greco (1984-1987) and Max Zendejas (1987-88) all attempted and missed one fourth-quarter field goal of 50 or more yards.