Packers notes: Mason Crosby finds redemption; Jimmy Graham shines in prime time
GREEN BAY – Mike McCarthy fist-pumped.
Mason Crosby lifted his arms, palms up, like what else would anyone expect.
His 27-yard field goal at the buzzer gave the Green Bay Packers a 33-30 victory on Monday night over the San Francisco 49ers and capped a perfect night a week after what he deemed was the worst performance of his career in Detroit.
Crosby went 4-for-4 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points, and the Packers needed every last one of them to outlast the 49ers and improve to 3-2-1 on the season.
“Obviously, gosh, just so thankful for the Packers organization and my teammates just sticking with me knowing I’ve bounced back a lot in my career,” Crosby said. “I had no days like last week, but this is a special one. This is one of my better days. And to be able to go out there and perform the way I did after last week (was great). Did a lot of soul-searching this week and made sure I really locked in on my preparation, and it paid off.”
Crosby hit on kicks of 29, 39 and 51 before trotting out for the game-winner.
“That’s exactly the way you want to see it end,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, I wish we didn’t need to kick as many field goals as he did. But yeah, definitely. That was a big bounce-back game for Mason, and for our football team. We needed that win.”
Graham tops century mark
Through five weeks, tight end Jimmy Graham has suffered through more chips from defensive linemen and linebackers than he has enjoyed touchdown passes. He has seen more cloud coverage than an October sky can provide.
But Monday, he caught five balls from Aaron Rodgers for 104 yards (20.8 yards per catch) and a long of 54. It was the most yards he had gained in a game this season and was the first time he went over 100 yards receiving since Nov. 7, 2016 as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
It was his 18th career 100-yard receiving game.
“I’ve set records everywhere I’ve been and I’ve been a part of all that stuff and I don’t have a ring, so that sucks, and that’s really what I focus on now,” Graham said. “Winning. Getting back to the playoffs and winning that ring. That would mean everything to me. That’s basically all I focus on. It doesn’t matter how many touchdowns or yards, if we get the win, that’s all I care about. As long as we’re going home happy and I do my job well and I don’t cause us to lose a game, is really my focus.”
That said, with Graham being one of three pass catchers going over 100 yards, it was the offense’s most prolific game to date. Until Monday night, the Packers' offense had not topped the 24 points it scored back in Week 1 against Chicago (seven points against Minnesota came by way of special teams).
“I love to score. Hopefully they’ll start coming my way, too,” Graham said. “It’s kind of a rough start for us, just not finishing really and not getting the ball down in the end zone. We’ve got to work off that, with ‘12’ and these receivers and these running backs and this o-line we’ve got, we’ve got a lot more than 30 points in us. Hopefully we can just keep putting it together, you know? And learn from this and just launch and get to where we’re scoring every time we touch the ball. That’s the goal. Start fast, finish fast. We’ve got to play a full game. We’ll get there. We really will.”
He did poke some fun at himself, however.
“I just gotta learn how to run when it’s really cold out,” he said with a smile. “I was trying to lift my knees up. But I need more practice at that cold stuff, that’s for sure.”
Before he concluded his session in the locker room, Graham did want to send a personal message out regarding the passing of Seahawks owner Paul Allen. Graham found out about Allen’s death before the game.
“I was pretty close with him and he really helped me through my knee injury, doing some things for me and just my heart goes out to his family,” said Graham, who played for the Seahawks from 2015-17. “What an incredible person. Selfless. Just opened up and really helped me at a pivotal time in my career when I really needed it. Thinking of him and rest in peace.”
After rushing the ball just 21 out of 70 plays against the 49ers, the Packers rank 26th in the NFL in attempts per game at 22.0.
What makes that ranking hard to understand is that the Packers are averaging 4.7 yards per carry, which ranks seventh best in the NFL. Running back Aaron Jones ranks fourth in the NFL among backs with at least 30 carries with a 5.9-yard average, yet he is averaging just 8 carries per game.
Both Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery salvaged their evenings with some productive runs late in the game. Williams finished with six carries for 29 yards and Montgomery with four carries for 12 yards.
“They’re a stout front, it’s tough to run on them,” Rodgers said. “But we’ve got to keep finding ways to get the ball to ‘33’ (Jones) in space. I thought ‘30’ (Williams) ran well, but (there were) just limited opportunities for those guys.’
“We’re throwing the ball a bunch and I’m taking too many shots, so we need to find a way to get the ball out of my hand a little quicker and establish the run a little bit more.”
Braced for time off
Rodgers is hoping the bye week will allow him to come back with less discomfort and less reason to wear the brace he has been wearing.
“I just told Doc (Patrick McKenzie) I’d love to take the brace off after the bye, but we’ll see how I respond tomorrow and this week and next week, and we’ll probably get some sort of image of it again.
"But that would be nice to be feeling great come next week Wednesday.”