Mason Crosby had an extra day to think about what he’d done. An all-time ignominious performance against the Lions with five missed kicks and the dreaded talk of the yips. Maybe the extra day gave him time to get right because when the Packers needed him to pull a victory out of the proverbial jaws of defeat, Crosby came through.
In the post-game interview, Green Bay’s veteran kicker could barely find the words, admitting to being “broken up” about hitting the game winner in the Packers’ 33-30 come-from-behind win.
With 1:07 left, the game tied at 30. Aaron Rodgers said he was thinking overtime but Ty Montgomery broke off a 14-yard run to get things going. A Richard Sherman illegal contact penalty extended the drive and Aaron Rodgers made San Francisco pay.
After coming up lame a few plays before, Rodgers scampered for 21 yards for a huge momentum-building chunk play. Davante Adams caught a little out route to the sideline for nine yards to inch the Packers closer. Adams finished with a monster 10 catch night for 132 yards and the game-tying touchdown on a beautiful double move.
The play of the night may have been what followed. Needing to get a little closer for Crosby, Rodgers hit rookie Equanimious St. Brown on his only target of the night on a corner route for 19 yards in which EQ had to contort his body and get two feet down along the sideline. The next 19 yarder to Adams was just gravy and Crosby won the game from there.
“We had faith in Mason from anywhere tonight,” Rodgers said after the game and it showed. Crosby went 4-4 including the game-winner and unlike last week, made all three of his PATs.
Heroics were needed because after a quick start, the offense bogged down and the defense couldn’t get a stop until late.
In the first half Monday, the Packers forced two turnovers, Aaron Jones averaged over seven yards a carry, Aaron Rodgers was rolling, Mason Crosby made kicks, and yet Green Bay trailed the hapless 49ers led by CJ Beathard.
For the third time this season, the Packers allowed a first-drive score on a seven-play 75-yard march featuring bad pursuit, coverage busts, assignment issues and bad tackling.
But the Packers offense looked up the task early, as McCarthy deployed personnel creatively and killed the 49ers defense with play action. On the first possession, a 60-yarder to Marqueze Valdes-Scantling, who also had a 100-yard game, was a harbinger of things to come for this passing game as Rodgers finished 25/46 for 425 yards, two touchdowns and a 100.4 rating.
Jimmy Graham finally appears to have a place in this offense after his own 100-yard game including big plays and key catches. Green Bay scored its first opening-drive touchdown of the season but couldn’t keep the 49ers offense at bay and took a 24-20 deficit into halftime.
For the steps forward the offense did take, the Packers finished 0-5 on third down in the first half, a bug-a-boo so far this season. But Green Bay has been the master of halftime adjustments and made them on both sides of the ball.
Rodgers, having scored on every first drive of the second half this season, mixed run and pass well en route to a field goal from Mason Crosby to make it a one-point game. Another third-and-long stymied the drive.
An embarrassing missed tackle by Clay Matthews lead to a 49ers retaliatory field to push the lead back to 27-23.
It wasn’t until under six minutes in the third quarter the Packers finally converted a third down, but the drive ended in a punt and the 49ers once again deployed Robbie Gould to make it a 30-23 game.
A terrific chance to tie the game went begging when the Packers couldn’t convert on fourth-and-short near the goal line. Rodgers appeared to want MVS to run his route flatter as opposed to the corner and Green Bay turned it over on downs.
It was the defense’s turn to step up.
From there they forced two straight three-and-outs to give the ball back to the Packers with 2:59 left in the game. Rodgers needed just four plays to go 58 yards thanks to a beautiful deep cross to Adams for 38 yards. On third-and-six from the 49ers 16, with Rodgers just 2/8 passing in the red zone to that point, the two-time MVP threaded a needle into the back of the end zone for and the game-tying touchdown.
Needing a stop to either give the ball back or force overtime, the Packers defense held. Facing a zero blitz with no safety in the middle of the field, Beathard heaved one down the field with Kevin King in coverage. King turned just in time to see the ball float into his arms to give the Packers the ball with that 1:07 left.
That was all Rodgers needed to give Crosby a chance. For anyone who will say Crosby didn’t deserve a chance after what happened in the Motor City, old No. 2 proved them wrong. The man with some of the biggest kicks in modern Packers history was a hero once again Monday night.