With Atlanta having cut Green Bay’s 24-point lead to 40-30, Jarrett Boykin recovered an onside kick. For just the second time all night, the offense failed to get a first down. Rather than keeping the offense on the field on fourth-and-4 from the Atlanta 35, McCarthy called on Crosby for a 53-yard field-goal attempt – a tough kick under any circumstances but especially so in a December game played in the freezing cold and wintery mix of Lambeau Field.
Crosby delivered, drilling the kick to give the Packers a 43-30 lead with 4:33 remaining and helping them hang on for a 43-37 victory over the Falcons.
“It was a field goal that we felt that we could make,” McCarthy explained. “We have a lot of confidence in Mason. Obviously, there’s a process you go through each and every week as far as when you think you should go and not go based on the yard line and things like that. It was the right decision.”
The kick was a huge gamble. Had the Packers missed, the Falcons would have taken over at the 43-yard line. Given how Matt Ryan and Julio Jones had destroyed the Packers’ defense, especially in the second half, a miss could have given an extra shot of energy into the surging Falcons.
“We were thinking about going for it,” Crosby said. “That’s a tough call because if it doesn’t go through there, they get the ball at the 43-yard line. So it showed a lot of confidence in me to put me out there, and I’m so happy to capitalize because that was big. Our protection did a great job after the blocked extra point. They really stepped up and did a good job on that long kick.”
For Crosby, it was the longest home December field goal of his career and only his second 50-yarder at Lambeau in December (Seattle, 52 yards, 2009). And given the way the Packers have been blowing out teams, it was his first clutch field goal of the season.
“It was nice to have one like that at home because, obviously, we’ve got another three games here, a tough stretch down the road, and that’s kind of playoff football right there,” he said. “You’ve got to play all four quarters and make sure every kick, every situation is important.”
firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.