GREEN BAY, Wis. – Football isn’t a game of inches. It’s a game of fractions of inches.
On the Green Bay Packers’ game-winning drive on Sunday night against San Francisco, the Packers wound up on the right side of the ruler to earn a 30-28 victory.
First was the 25-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams on the first play of the drive, which barely floated over the outstretched fingers of linebacker Fred Warner. That completion helped set the stage for Mason Crosby’s 51-yard, game-winning field goal.
“That one stings probably the most, knowing that I was that close and could have sealed the game on that one play,” Warner said after the game. “I look at myself and see how I could have played that one better. There were a few plays that I wanted back in that game, and that is for sure one of them. I am going to take a hard look at and see how I can get better because I have to be better for this team.”
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That completion moved the ball to midfield. Another, a 13-yard connection to Adams, positioned Crosby for the winning field goal. Crosby’s kick wound up splitting the uprights with distance to spare, but not before it was almost blocked by Dontae Johnson. Had he laid a finger on the ball, the 49ers would have escaped with a victory and the Packers would have limped home with a 1-2 record.
“It was pretty close,” coach Matt LaFleur said on Monday. “I thought Bobby (Tonyan) did as well as he could have done on the edge, as well. [Johnson] just got a really good jump on the snap and he made it close. We talk all the time about protecting from inside out. I think over the course of last season, I want to say there was something like only four kicks blocked from the perimeter. Most of it comes from internal pressure. So, our guys were stout inside and the guy got a really good jump on it and thankfully he missed it.
“And Mason, what a great job – really that whole operation because our operation time was great, as well. Hunter (Bradley) had a great snap, Bojo (Corey Bojorquez) put it down clean and then Mason came through with a big-time kick. The best part of that, obviously, him making it, but just seeing the guys’ reactions after that definitely is something that puts a big smile on my face.”
The kick ran Crosby’s streak of successful field goals to 22, one of his franchise record. In the process, he he passed Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud on the career scoring list and became the 18th player in NFL history with 1,700 career points.
“Celebrating with the guys in the end zone, seeing that energy and feeling that juice is what it's all about,” Crosby said afterward. “And then carrying on into the locker room and guys pouring water all over my head and on everybody, that's what this game is all about. It was really special.”