Mason Crosby grew up about two-and-a-half hours from Dallas in the city of Georgetown, Texas, so he was able to bask in the glow of his triumphant night at AT&T Stadium in the presence of his parents and other members of his family.
Two key members of his family weren’t there: his brother, Rees, and Rees’ wife, Brittany.
“She's fighting ovarian cancer right now, so they weren't able to be there, but I know they were there in spirit,” Crosby said on Monday.
It sounds hokey, but perhaps that spirit helped Crosby’s 56-yard, go-ahead field goal stay inside the right upright and his 51-yard, game-winning field goal stay inside the left upright.
“That's my biggest kick that I've had and I've had a 10-year career here,” Crosby said. “To be able to have a 51-yarder in divisional playoffs down in Dallas, such a big game like that, it was special.”
Crosby’s had a tremendous 10-year career. He’s the leading scorer in Packers history by more than 200 points. He’s got a Super Bowl ring. He’s got an NFL-record 23 consecutive successful postseason field goals. But his career hadn’t been filled with many memorable kicks. Crosby entered this season just 6-of-11 on field goals during the final 2 minutes of regulation and overtime with the Packers either tied or trailing by one, two or three points. He had been 0-for-4 from 50-plus yards in those situations, including the mis-hit 52-yarder at home against Detroit last season.
But Crosby delivered two of the greatest kicks in NFL postseason history. The first was a 56-yarder that snapped a 28-28 tie with 1:33 remaining.
“Watched it a little longer than sometimes I do,” Crosby said. “It started drifting right, then it straightened back out and just stayed inside that right upright. As soon as I saw it playing out, I knew it had the distance and felt all right about it. But definitely watched it a little longer than some of the other ones.”
Dallas tied the game on Dan Bailey’s 52-yard field goal with 35 seconds remaining. That left Aaron Rodgers just enough time to position Crosby for a 51-yarder to win the game. That kick appeared poised to hit the left upright before veering right.
“When it came off (my foot), I knew it started a little more left than I was hoping,” Crosby said. “It was right on the upright. With how it wasn't end-over-end, I knew I hadn't really pulled it too hard. Usually, those kind of fall to the right, and so I was hopeful it was going to keep turning. Once I saw it playing out and going inside the upright, I knew I had the leg for it, so felt pretty confident. There was a second that I (was), ‘Just get off that upright.'”
With the kick soaring through the air, Crosby watched as if it were in slow motion. As it went through the uprights, he buckled at the knees.
“My reaction was just pure joy, a lot of emotion,” Crosby said. “I bent down, just kind of taken by the moment. I was just so thankful by that opportunity and being able to capitalize. It almost made me collapse. I was pretty pumped. I just can't tell you what I was feeling. It was awesome.”
And then the celebration began.
“I don't remember much,” Crosby said. “I remember feeling beat up. Usually after a game, I don't feel beat up. It was fun. I just remember pure joy. We play a kid's game, and those moments like that just kind of bring that out of us. You see grown men running around hugging, jumping around. That's what's it all about. I remember (David) Bakhtiari, I remember looking at him. He was trying to pick me up. I was like, 'No, no, no.' my helmet was half off my head. It was fun. Just the joy of that moment, I'll remember for a long time.”
Crosby said he’d watched the winning kick “probably 10” times so he could soak up the celebration.
“I’m on the field. I’m just in my own little world — the snap, hold, that little thing,” he said. “You see the TV copy, and you get to see all the other stuff going on, everyone else’s reaction, all those things. It’s just a surreal feeling.”
For the second consecutive week, Crosby wore a purple bracelet with the words “We Stand Together” in honor of his 27-year-old sister-in-law who recently started chemotherapy.
“Their faith is so strong and they have so much support and are really positive about it,” Crosby said. “I know they’ll keep fighting through it.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.