Packers-Raiders game notes

McCarthy backs up Crosby; changing of the guards; Barnett has scratched cornea

Mason Crosby is piling up the points in his rookie season as a pro kicker.

Yet, the NFL's scoring leader with 115 points isn't finding Lambeau Field to be a favorable late-season home venue.

Crosby has converted only five of his 11 field-goal attempts in the last four games in Green Bay.

"You've got to get used to it," Crosby said of any combination of cold, windy, snowy conditions. "You look at the flags, they're blowing one way, then on the field, it's moving the other. You just have to trust it and be true.

"I'm just going to keep kicking. We've got one more game here at the end of the year and hopefully a few more in the playoffs. It's just one of those I've (things were I've) got to keep focused and just keep hitting 'em through."

By clinching their first NFC North title since 2004 and running their record to 11-2 with a 38-7 whipping of Oakland on Sunday, the Packers are assured of opening the postseason at home.

Crosby's recent struggles at Lambeau -- he missed two of three field-goal tries Sunday -- might need to be resolved in short order for the Packers to advance deep in the playoffs. Head coach Mike McCarthy isn't fretting, however.

"I'm not concerned about him. He's a talented young kicker," McCarthy said. "I think he's going to kick in this league a long time, and I think it'll be in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He'll learn from that." Fortunately for Crosby, who has connected on 14 of 16 field-goal kicks on the road this season, the Packers will be indoors Sunday at St. Louis.

Crosby's prolific season has contributed to a banner year for Green Bay's special teams.

Backup cornerback Will Blackmon scored two touchdowns Sunday -- on a 57-yard punt return and a fumble recovery in the end zone on a bungled punt return by the Raiders. Green Bay had two touchdowns in a game from its special teams for the first time since 1986.

The Packers have four special teams touchdowns this season.

"We know (Blackmon is) very elusive back there as a punt returner, as a specialist, period," Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings said. "When he gets the ball in his hands, he's so tough to bring down. It's good for him to be out there and have some success."

Blackmon's first two years in the league have been marred by a slew of injuries, including a broken right foot he aggravated in early October. The Packers considered putting Blackmon on injured reserve but held off because they were optimistic he would make a hasty recovery and be able to contribute by the end of the season.

Blackmon returned to game action Nov. 29 at Dallas and handled punt returns for the first time this season Sunday.

"Will Blackmon's clearly one of the better athletes on our football team," McCarthy said. "Personally, it's very gratifying just to see him out there (after) what he's gone through to overcome the injuries that he's been battling the last year and a half and to have the opportunity he had (Sunday) and to take full advantage of it. He's an explosive young man."

Changing of the guards
Jason Spitz started at left guard and Junius Coston at right guard against the Raiders. Daryn Colledge was benched after struggling against the Dallas Cowboys Nov. 29 in Green Bay's loss to the Cowboys.

The move, which was made in the second half of Green Bay's game against Dallas, proved to be fruitful for the offense. The Packers finished with 179 yards rushing and didn't allow any sacks of quarterback Brett Favre.

Did not suit up
The following Packers were not on the 45-man game day roster: WR Shaun Bodiford, RB Brandon Jackson, LB Tracy White, G Allen Barbre, TE Bubba Franks, and DTs Daniel Muir and Johnny Jolly. QB Aaron Rodgers was the designated third quarterback.

The following Raiders were not on the 45-man game day roster: QB Daunte Culpepper, RB Dominic Rhodes, CB John Bowie, S Jarrod Cooper, C Jake Grove, OT Mario Henderson, DT Josh Shaw. QB JaMarcus Russell was the designated third quarterback.

Extra points
-- The Packers defense finished with no sacks for the second straight game. The Packers have 32 sacks this season.

-- QB Brett Favre had no ill effects Sunday from a bruised right (throwing) elbow and aggravated left-shoulder separation sustained in the last game. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-7 win over Oakland. Favre is only 183 passing yards from Dan Marino's league record of 61,361.

-- RB Ryan Grant had career highs of 29 carries and 156 yards, along with a touchdown. Grant has four 100-yard games in the Packers' last seven contests. His rushing output Sunday was the highest by a Packer since Samkon Gado had 171 yards against Detroit on Dec. 11, 2005.

-- MLB Nick Barnett was the victim of what he called a "dirty" hit by Raiders center Jeremy Newberry, which left Barnett with a scratched cornea of his left eye. Newberry poked Barnett in the eye after an Oakland pass play late in the first half. Barnett returned to the game at the start of the second half and finished with a game-high 10 tackles.

-- CB Charles Woodson returned to the starting lineup after being held out of a game because of a toe injury. Woodson was limited to defensive duties against his former team, deferring to Will Blackmon on punt returns.

-- DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila also was back on the field after being out a game for a sprained ankle.

-- QB Aaron Rodgers was on the inactive list Sunday as the third quarterback. Rodgers suffered a strained hamstring in practice Dec. 4 and was expected to be sidelined up to two weeks. Craig Nall, re-signed to the team Dec. 1, was Favre's backup Sunday.

-- TE Bubba Franks has a chance to return to game action Sunday at St. Louis. Franks hasn't played since suffering a sprained knee against Washington on Oct. 14.

-- The setback for Oakland was its biggest deficit to any opponent since the Raiders lost 41-7 to the Packers in Oakland on Dec. 22, 2003, the night Brett Favre passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns a day after his father had died suddenly of a heart attack.

-- Green Bay's defense held Raiders RB Justin Fargas to 57 yards on 15 carries before leaving in the third quarter with a rib injury.

-- P Shane Lechler had a streak of 573 punts without having one returned for a touchdown snapped when Will Blackmon went 57 yards for a score.

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