As a chorus of gasps and disgruntled murmurs rained down in Lambeau Field, Packers kicker Mason Crosby and the special teams unit trudged off the field. Trailing 14-10 to the visiting Minnesota Vikings in a 2012 week three contest, Crosby had failed to draw the Packers within a point at the culmination of the first half after he missed a 53-yard field goal attempt. The lack of glee in the stands wasn't a once in a blue moon thing for Crosby in 2012, either.
It was his seventh miss in his last six games, and it was clustered in the middle of what would go on to be Crosby's worst season of his career. After a dismal 2012 season in which Crosby completed a career-low 63.6 percent of his field goal attempts (the worst in the league), the only surprise in the coming months would be that Crosby was still on the team.
"Mason Crosby is an accountable man," head coach Mike McCarthy said two weeks later following the Packers' win over the Bears in Chicago — a game in which Crosby missed his only two field goal attempts. "He needs to perform better."
McCarthy's reassurance to stick with Crosby in hindsight seems like the correct call, and much to the chagrin of fan approval at the time, it definitely was.
His struggles came a year following his freshly-inked five-year deal worth $14.75 million. In response, Crosby hit 85.7 percent of his attempts in 2011, which was his personal best at the time. Crosby was one of the highest-paid kickers in the league, behind only the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski. Prior to his contract, Crosby was a kicker that was just knocking 78.1 percent of his career kicks through the uprights, drawing in some uncertainty with general manager Ted Thompson's motive to retain Crosby in Green Bay.
Over his next five seasons, however, including his less-than-optimal 2012 campaign, Crosby hit 81.4 percent of his kicks. With his newfound efficiency, he provided some reassurance for any skeptics that questioned whether or not he lost "it." And there were a lot.
There was so much qualm with whether or not Crosby's future resided with the Packers during the 2013 offseason, the team even brought in free agent kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, who showed up Crosby in front of 63.047 fans during the team's annual Family Night.
Despite hitting six of his seven attempts to Crosby's three of eight, Tavecchio was obviously the odd man out.
Since being selected in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Crosby is only one of two players still on the Packers roster from that season. The other being quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was a year shy of being named the eventual starter under center. Crosby has steadily produced an efficient 10-year career in Green Bay, becoming the longest-tenured kicker in team history. The accolades don't end there.
Crosby leads in almost every team category, embedding his name in the Packers record books. Some of his records include the most points scored in a career, most seasons with 100 or more points and most consecutive seasons with 100 or more points. Crosby also holds the team record for most points by a kicker in his rookie season with 141, topping the previous mark set by Chester Marcol (128) in 1972. His 262 career field goals are also the most in team history, and while Ryan Longwell holds the top spot with an 81.6 percent career accuracy mark, Crosby isn't far behind at 80.4 percent.
As of March of 2016, there may be just enough time for Crosby to become the most accurate kicker in Packers history.
He signed his name on the dotted line for a $16.1 million, four-year deal, ensuring he'll be with the team through the 2019 season.
Crosby kept with the trend in 2016, hitting 86.7 percent of his attempts, his best since 2013. He also aided an appearance in the NFC Championship by booting a 51-yard game-winner for the Packers against the Cowboys in the Divisional round. Unfortunately, he missed a field goal attempt a week later against the Falcons, marking the first time he had missed a week in the playoffs since 2010 — also in Atlanta.
While the Packers aim to restock various sections of the roster and gear up for another hopeful title run in 2017, their stagnancy at kicker definitely won't be questioned.
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