Rare misfires for Packers' kicking game

Michael Cohen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY - Over the past few seasons, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby has solidified his standing as one of the best in the league. He missed just four field goals a year ago, six in 2014 and four in 2013. Which is why general manager Ted Thompson rewarded him with a four-year $16.1 million contract extension in March.

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) on the sideline in the first half of a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns  in Green Bay, Wis., Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

So it's an unusual sight to see Crosby clap his hands in frustration as he did Thursday night, upset over a rare misfire. But against the Chicago Bears, in a 26-10 win for the Packers, the kicking game was less than clean. Crosby missed an extra point. He also had a field goal blocked.

"We felt smooth," said punter Jacob Schum, who is Crosby's holder. "We felt like the operation was good. He felt like he hit it pretty well. I’m sure being the guy he is he’s going to look at the film and see if there’s anything he can fix."

Both mistakes took place late in the fourth quarter, and by that time the Packers had the game more or less won. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with wide receiver Randall Cobb for a two-yard touchdown with 5 minutes, 39 seconds remaining to create a two-score lead. Rookie offensive lineman Jason Spriggs was flagged for a false start on the extra point attempt, and Crosby walked back five yards.

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After the penalty, Crosby lined up for an extra point that was, essentially, a 38-yard field goal. The snap looked good, the hold looked good but the kick drifted off to the right. It was just the fifth missed extra point of his career and the first since the NFL pushed back the distance in 2015. Of the five PATs he has missed, three of them have been blocked.

The Packers marched down the field again on their next possession before stalling in the red zone. With the game secured, Crosby trotted onto the field for a fairly meaningless 31-yard attempt. The snap looked good, the hold looked good but the kick was swatted by defensive end Akiem Hicks. Crosby clapped his hands in frustration.

On first glance, the block appeared to be more of an error in protection than a poor kick by Crosby. Lane Taylor, the starting left guard for the Packers, slipped in protection as his left leg slid across the chewed-up turf. Hicks and another Bears' lineman pushed Taylor back at least a yard. Hicks blocked the kick with a strong right hand.

"Knowing (Crosby), it’s no problem," Schum said. "He’s going to come back and crush it next game. He still had a great game."

Crosby finished 2-for-3 on field goals. He connected from 32 yards in the first quarter and 40 yards in the second quarter.

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