Crosby Finally Putting Best Foot Forward

In ways short and long, Mason Crosby is performing like the kicker the Packers shelled out big bucks to retain during the offseason. Obviously, his 56-yard field goal opened some eyes but Crosby's strong start goes beyond one prodigious kick.

As a rookie in 2007, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby won the NFL scoring crown with 141 points.

Over his next three seasons, however, Crosby never took the next step toward becoming an elite kicker. In fact, he was a below-average kicker, with his 79.5 percent accuracy as a rookie being his career high. In his first four seasons, Crosby made 78.1 percent of his field-goal attempts in a league in which 85 percent is only slightly better than average.

Still, the Packers rewarded Crosby with a five-year, $14.75 million contract during the offseason to retain him as a free agent. His average yearly salary cap figure of $2.95 million ranked 13th on the team entering this season.

Maybe this is the year when the Packers' faith will be rewarded.

After making all four field-goal attempts on Sunday night at Atlanta, Crosby is 9-for-9 for the season. He's one of eight kickers to have made every field goal and every extra point through the first five weeks.

Crosby's first seven makes were relative chip shots, with the longest being from 37 yards. In the third quarter against the Falcons, however, Crosby drilled a 56-yarder — a kick so pure that Crosby and holder Tim Masthay began to celebrate before the ball had cleared the crossbar.

"It was awesome," Crosby said after the game.

The kick would have been good from 62 or 63 yards, according to special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum. The conversion matched Crosby's career long, set just before halftime of last year's opener at Philadelphia.

More importantly, it brought the Packers within 14-9 and provided a jolt that pushed them past the Falcons 25-14.

"We kind of need a spark sometimes," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the game. "The spark was really the 56-yard field goal that got us within one score."

Crosby has made nine in a row just one other time during his career, in 2009. He made eight consecutive field goals in 2007 — six straight to end the regular season and two more in the playoffs. While eight of his makes this season are from inside of 40 yards, Crosby has struggled with his midrange kicks throughout his career, with career accuracy of 81.6 percent from 30 to 39 yards during his first four seasons. So, his 6-for-6 from that range is a sign that the kicker is finally realizing his enormous potential.

"Yeah, I think you'd have to say that," Slocum said on Monday when asked if this is Crosby's best stretch of his career. "(Sunday) night was perhaps the best game he's had in his career in terms of consistency of the kickoffs and the field goals."

Crosby sealed the win with a 30-yard field goal with 1:10 remaining. He had makes from 32 and 35 yards in the second quarter, the latter in the closing seconds, as the Packers improved to 5-0.

"It was important to get those two field goals in the first half," Crosby said. "We were able to get in position. With the team we have here, if we get points on the board and keeps ourselves within a score or two, it seems like we're always going ot be able to come back and be in games. I knew from the very beginning as we kicked those first two field goals in the first half it was going to be a tight game and I needed to make them. Because you know the defense is going to make good adjustments, which they did, and they started shutting them down. That's all we needed to get us going."

As expected, Crosby has been one of the NFL's top weapons on kickoffs. Last season, as he hit a variety of change-up kicks to cover up for a leaky coverage unit, Crosby booted just four touchbacks after having 43 in his first three seasons. This year, he's got a career-high 17.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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