In Minnesota last Sunday, Mason Crosby distanced himself from his missed kick in the closing seconds against the Lions. Never in Packers history has a kicker gone to the lengths Crosby did to atone for failure.
Crosby nailed five field goals in Green Bay’s 30-13 bounce-back win against the Vikings. The veteran placekicker set records as the Packers (7-3) ended a three-game skid and regained the top spot in the NFC North.
Crosby was Green Bay’s only scoring threat early. Then, after the Packers’ offense discovered the end zone, he delivered a prodigious shot that put Green Bay up by three scores late.
Crosby is in the midst of a solid season. He is on a trajectory to set personal bests in accuracy and distance.
Not so a week ago against the Lions at Lambeau Field, where failure lingered in the wake of Green Bay’s 18-16 loss. His miss from 52 yards out as time expired — a kick that never had a chance — threatened to sully his accomplishments.
But five field goals in five attempts in Minnesota removed some of the sting. That they came on the road against a quality opponent bodes well for the future.
Crosby connected from 42, 47, 40, 42 and 52 yards. It was the first time in NFL history a kicker hit five or more field goals of 40 or more yards in a regular-season game.
Four, yes. Most recently, Cairo Santos of the Chiefs had boots of 40 (twice) and 51 (twice) while going seven-for-seven in a 36-21 loss to the Bengals on October 4.
But five? For now, that’s Crosby’s domain and his alone.
Crosby’s impressive haul easily broke the Packers’ record of three. Chester Marcol was the first with a trio of 40-yarders when he hit from 40, 42 and 44 yards in a 10-9 loss to the Redskins on Nov. 21, 1977.
In the years since, the record was equaled by Al Del Greco, Chris Jacke, Ryan Longwell (four times) and Crosby as a rookie in 2007.
Kicking five field goals — regardless of distance — remains a rarity in Packers’ lore. Jacke (twice), Longwell and Crosby (twice) are the only players to have accomplished the feat.
Together, the distances of Crosby’s field goals in Minnesota exceeded the length of two football fields. His five kicks traveled 223 yards.
Only once in team history has a player been asked to attempt kicks from a greater combined distance. On Sept. 29, 1974, Marcol attempted six kicks — one more than Crosby — totaling 230 yards.
Crosby’s 223 is a record for five tries. It’s four more than the previous best of 219 when Del Greco was good from 26, 46, 45, and 50 yards before having a 52-yarder blocked by Dan Hampton in a 25-12 loss to the Bears on Sept. 22, 1986.
Crosby was the sole point provider for Green Bay for most of the first half at TCF Bank Stadium. He capped the team’s first three possessions with field goals as the Packers built a 9-6 lead.
Green Bay finally reached the end zone six seconds before halftime. Aaron Rodgers fired 10 yards to Randall Cobb and Crosby added the extra point for a 16-6 advantage.
Crosby kicked his fourth field goal to extend the lead to 19-6 on the opening possession of the second half. He delivered one last time — from 52 yards away — with 4:14 remaining.
Crosby’s perfect afternoon brought his success rate for the season to 89.5 percent (17 of 19). That’s slightly better than the 89.2 percent he achieved in 2013, his most accurate season.
In delivering from long range, Crosby increased the average distance from which his kicks have been successful. The Texas native is averaging 39.5 yards per field goal, nearly a yard better than the team record 38.7 (minimum 10 field goals) he established in 2012.
The Vikings are familiar with Crosby’s effectiveness. He has posted 155 points against them in 17 regular-season games (9.1 average).
Further, the 16 points he scored in Green Bay’s latest victory were the most by a Packer against the Vikings without the benefit of a touchdown. Paul Hornung (28), Jim Taylor (18), Harlan Huckleby (18) and Greg Jennings (18) had more points, but each scored three touchdowns.
Ward Cuff was the first Packer to attempt five field goals in one game. Cuff went 2-for-5, hitting from 39 and 13 yards out, in Green Bay’s 34-17 win over the Lions on Oct. 26, 1947.
Eric Goska is a Packers historian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dialing long distance
Packers who attempted five field goals in one regular-season game from the greatest combined distance.