GREEN BAY - Before the season, Kevin King wrote his goal down. It has served as a carrot he has chased through his third NFL season.
“It says, ‘Five plus,’” King said late Monday night, sitting alone inside the visitors’ locker room at U.S. Bank Stadium after Green Bay's 23-10 victory at Minnesota.
That might have seen fairly bold when the season began. The Packers cornerback had only one interception in his first two seasons. To go from that to five in one year? This was reaching for something lofty.
King met the first part of that goal Monday night when he intercepted Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins’ jump ball in the third quarter. It was King’s fifth interception this season, his second against Cousins. King now ranks among the NFL’s top 10 in interceptions.
This pick was especially meaningful to King not just because it met a goal, but for what happened after. King had only returned two interceptions in his career, and neither went for big yardage. This time, King’s return went for 39 yards, near midfield.
For a struggling Packers offense, flipping the field was helpful.
“I think the Kevin King interception was a big point for us,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Not just the play, but the return back to close to midfield was really important.”
After the game, King was mulling over being tackled. He’d hoped to take his interception all the way for a first career touchdown, but Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin got an angle on him.
“I’m actually pretty excited about that,” King said. “Because I haven’t had very many opportunities, and nobody really knows (I can run with the football). So I had a chance to get loose a little bit, so that was exciting.”
Crosby provides offense in first half
The Packers rolled up 221 yards of total offense on 45 plays in the first half Monday night, but three turnovers prevented any trips to the end zone. That left Mason Crosby as the lone source of points to keep Green Bay close in the opening 30 minutes, and he went 3-for-3 on field goals of 42, 33 and 19 yards. The final kick pulled the Packers to within 10-9 at the break.
“It was huge knowing that they were going to get the ball coming out,” Crosby said of his last field goal. “I mean, our defense played lights out. We gave three turnovers up in that first half and were only down one point. The defense, can’t say enough about them. Then (the) offense, kind of answering the call and making plays when we needed to and getting that win.”
It continues a career year for the Pro Bowl alternate, as he is now 19-for-20 (95%) on the season.
But since missing his first four field goals in Detroit on Oct. 7, 2018, he has only missed three field goals total over his next 26 games.
Beginning with his 41-yard make at the end of that game against the Lions last season, Crosby has gone 39-for-42 (92.8%). He was also a perfect 64-for-64 on extra points until he pushed one wide right Monday night.
Perfect for two
After Aaron Jones scored on a 12-yard touchdown run to make it 15-10 with 2:03 left in the third quarter, Packers coach Matt LaFleur made the call to go for a 2-point conversion.
The way Jones was running the ball it wouldn’t have been surprising if LaFleur had given it to him again, but instead he called a pass. LaFleur was 2-for-2 on 2-point conversions coming into the game, scoring with a pass to Davante Adams and on a Rodgers scramble.
This time Rodgers hit receiver Geronimo Allison on a crossing route. The throw was low, but Allison went down and got it.
“I like the 2-point thought,” Rodgers said. “I think that was an important spot for us, too. Matt letting us go for it, and (he) dialed up a really good play.”
The safe route
At the end of the first half, the Packers had the ball at the 1-yard line and enough time for one play.
It was a similar situation LaFleur faced against Carolina earlier this season when he had the ball at the 1 and gave it to Jamaal Williams, who was stopped for a 3-yard loss.
Rodgers had made a bad throw to Adams the play before, but LaFleur said he felt like the field goal was the right move.
“Just kind of the flow of the game,” he said. “Just to be down one point, I thought was important. Unfortunately, there was a little miscommunication there were we burned the timeout (before the Adams throw). That didn’t afford us the ability to run the ball with seven seconds left.
“So, we had to throw it (to Adams). They did a good job of keeping us out of the end zone.”