Slocum Staying Course with Crosby

The Packers are maintaining their faith in kicker Mason Crosby despite his bad miss against the Colts. Read what his special teams coach had to say Thursday. Plus, our Matt Tevsh takes a closer look at Crosby's late-game failures.

The Green Bay Packers have been down this road before with Mason Crosby missing a clutch kick in the waning seconds of a game.

And just like the other times, there appears to be little concern.

Four days after Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal attempt that would have sent the Packers into overtime against the Colts, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum is staying away from taking any drastic measures. Instead, he is maintaining the status quo with his sixth-year veteran kicker.

"We're not changing the routine because our routine is set up for him to be successful," said Slocum. "You're not going to make 100 percent of the kicks. We know that going in. So, if I would suggest all of a sudden to change the routine today or this week, I really need to look back prior to this week and (say) ‘Why wasn't the routine what it should be?'"

After review this week, Crosby's miss, his second of the game, appeared to be an anomaly. Slocum said the snap and hold were fine, but rather that "it might have been more of rhythm and tempo and his plant into the ball, which made it seem out of place."

Crosby said immediately after the game that the kick just came off "weird." The snap-hook shape of the kick, a rare type of miss, would suggest as much.

Crosby has regularly talked about every kick being a process with no one kick being any bigger than the other. But his record at the end of games has been poor – just 2-for-6 in game-tying or game-winning situations. That might suggest there is more than a mechanical problem under pressure, a notion that Slocum is choosing not to address with Crosby.

"To me, as a coach, I just think you support it through not overreacting but you just go back and make sure we're stressing the fundamentals and really emphasize the rhythm and tempo," said Slocum. "I think in performing that particular skill, rhythm and tempo are very important. We train that way. And if you get out of rhythm, or your tempo increases or decreases, you're not synchronized in the move. And so, if there's a problem along those lines, I think it's important to go back and re-establish that fundamental, rhythm and tempo."

A further breakdown of Crosby's potential game-tying or game-winning kicks might support Slocum's approach. Of his four career misses in the waning seconds, one was blocked (a 38-yard attempt at Chicago in 2008) and the other three were anything but gimmes (all came from longer than 50 yards). His longest miss, a 53-yard attempt that would have won the game at Washington in 2010, hit the upright.

That Crosby has had only six attempts at clutch field goals in the closing moments of games is uncommon given his experience (93 games played, including the playoffs). By comparison, Packers opponents over Crosby's career have had double the number of attempts, hitting on 9-of-12 such tries (including the playoffs). Strangely, all three misses for the opponents in those situations still turned out to be Packers losses.

In the 2009 playoffs, Neil Rackers missed a 34-yarder at the end of regulation before the Cardinals beat the Packers in overtime on a fumble return for a touchdown.

In 2008 and 2007, respectively, the Titans' Rob Bironas and the Giants' Lawrence Tynes redeemed their misses at the end of regulation with game-winners in overtime. Tynes' winner, a 47-yarder, came under brutally cold conditions at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship.

Crosby was just a rookie in 2007 when Tynes made that kick. That was the year he made his first game-winner in the closing moments, a 42-yarder to beat the Eagles in his first game. Last season, under maybe the most pressure of all his last-second attempts, he made his other game-winner. Keeping the Packers' quest for an unbeaten season alive (they improved to 12-0), he nailed a 31-yard at the gun to beat the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

After going 0-for-2 last Sunday, Crosby's career field goal percentage dipped to 79.1 percent, which is fractionally worse, believe it or not, than his overall percentage in the fourth quarter of games (79.2 percent). Crosby has similar numbers in close games – those where the final margin is decided by seven points or less – where he has hit 59-of-78 attempts (75.6 percent).

Perhaps those numbers are why Slocum and the Packers seem confident and see no difference in Crosby.

Asked how Crosby seems this week after a tough game, Slocum replied: "Like a pro. He's moved on and is excited about the next opportunity."


Clutch Crosby?

Mason Crosby's record on game-winning or game-tying field goal attempts in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter:

Oct. 12, 2012, at Indianapolis: Misses a 51-yarder to tie with 8 seconds remaining. Packers lose, 30-27.

Dec. 4, 2011, at New York Giants: Makes a 31-yarder with 3 seconds remaining. Packers win, 38-35.

Oct. 10, 2010, at Washington: Misses a 53-yarder with 7 seconds remaining. Packers lose in overtime, 16-13.

Dec. 22, 2008, at Chicago: His 38-yard attempt with 25 seconds remaining is blocked. Packers lose in overtime, 20-17.

Nov. 9, 2008, at Minnesota: Misses a 52-yarder with 31 seconds remaining. Packers lose, 28-27.

Sept. 9, 2007, vs. Eagles: Makes a 42-yarder with 6 seconds remaining. Packers win, 16-13.


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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com


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