It’s not often that a team posts a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard receiver, and a 100-yard rusher only to come away with a 25-point-day. The story of Green Bay’s 25-22 overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals was the kicking game, for both teams.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby went four-of-seven on the night, including the game-winner, with a one-of-two effort on extra points. Bengals kicker Evan McPherson finished the day with two field-goal misses, with one coming in overtime, but went a perfect two-for-two on extra points.
After the game, every Packer available to the media commented on how they experienced the kicking game on Sunday, from Crosby himself to head coach Matt LaFleur and even Crosby's teammates.
Crosby chose not to speak much about what went wrong, as he stated that he generally takes the approach of analyzing the film in depth before making a change to his game, but he did shed some perspective on the 51-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation. Crosby told the media, “I felt really good about that and I just picked a bad line. The wind just kind of took it left on me.”
LaFleur was asked if he ever had doubts to send the kicker back out for the game-winner in overtime after Crosby had already missed four kicks on the day, to which he admitted there was some hesitation. “I went over to Mason. I could see the look in his eyes. There was zero flinch from him,” said the head coach. He later added, “If I would have felt anything I would have gone for it,” in regard to the fourth-and-short decision that eventually won the Packers the game on the road.
Sending Crosby out for the game-winner, giving him a chance to re-establish himself as a kicker to have confidence in, seemed to be an emphasis. As LaFleur put it, “The only kick I’ll remember is that last kick.”
Wide receiver Davante Adams, fresh off of his first 200-yard receiving game, talked about Crosby in a similar tone:
“Everybody says oh if you’re a kicker all you got to do is kick why can’t you just make the ball, but when that’s your sole responsibility, it’s tough. It’s tough to come after making a few mistakes. All that matters is that last one. That’s the only one I remember. I don’t even remember how many he missed. I just remembered the one he made.”
The only person to speak on the kicking operation in the post-game presser was actually quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “I think we got to clean up the operation a little bit and make sure we’re giving him laces every time and make his job a little easier,” said the reigning NFL most valuable player after giving Crosby praise for his redemption arc. It will be interesting to analyze if there was an inconsistent snap-to-hold operation when the NFL releases the coaches' film on Tuesday, as it was difficult to see on the broadcast of the game due to the angles of the plays.
In more lighthearted moments, LaFleur, Adams, and Rodgers all talked about their superstitions when watching kicks from the sideline. LaFleur claimed that he switched if he watched or didn’t watch the kick based on if the previous kick was made. Adams stated he changes his approach depending on if the game is on the west coast or the midwest, while Rodgers said he started changing where he was on the sideline after some of Crosby’s earlier misses, eventually settling in behind most of the team.