Mason Crosby has a knack for onside kicks.
The Packers’ fifth-year kicker perfectly bounced an onside kick late in the first quarter in Sunday’s 49-23 victory over Denver that receiver Jordy Nelson was able to recover with ease.
Green Bay had just taken a 14-3 lead on Charles Woodson’s 30-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the kickoff team caught the Broncos totally by surprise.
“Everyone executed perfectly,” Crosby said. “We had everyone blocked and Jordy was able to just go up and field it.”
The Packers took advantage of the possession by driving for another score and a 21-3 lead.
For Crosby, it was the fourth successful onside kick in the last three seasons. He pulled off two in 2009, one in Week 2 against Cincinnati and another in the NFC Wild Card playoff game at Arizona. Last year he did it again on the opening kickoff at New England.
The one on Sunday was a carbon copy of the playoff one from two seasons ago, a high chopper that carried just beyond the required 10 yards.
“We talked about it this week in practice,” Crosby said. “We were prepared, but in a game beforehand you can’t go out and practice that.”
Thinking big: When cornerback Sam Shields sprinted out of the end zone following his interception, he thought he had a chance to go the distance.
“Yeah, I think I did,” Shields said. “It was just one man to beat.”
Unfortunately for Shields, that one man was running back Willis McGahee, who had the angle on Shields and was able to get him out of bounds after a 60-yard return, a career long for the second-year corner.
At first it appeared Shields might be beaten for a long touchdown, as Denver receiver Brandon Lloyd (eight catches, 136 yards) got a step on him off the line of scrimmage on a go-route. But Shields closed and the pass was underthrown, and Shields picked it off on the dead run in the end zone.
It was Shields’ first interception of the season and his first since his two picks in last January’s NFC Championship in Chicago.
“Finally, yeah,” Shields said. “It’s just being patient. The ball is going to come.”
NFL debut: Rookie left tackle Derek Sherrod, the Packers’ first-round draft pick, made his pro debut on Sunday, taking over for Chad Clifton for one snap when the veteran limped off for a play in the fourth quarter after getting kicked in the shin.
Sherrod also played left tackle for Green Bay’s final two series when Matt Flynn took over at quarterback. Evan Dietrich-Smith also went in at center for Scott Wells for those final two series.
After the game, Clifton said he was fine.
Historical stats: The Packers set a franchise record for the most points in the first four games of a season. Green Bay has 148 points in 2011, topping the 140 points scored in the first four games in 1945.
The 49 points scored Sunday are the most in Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure in one game. The Packers scored 52 points against New Orleans in 2005, one year before McCarthy’s arrival.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 1,325 passing yards on the season, the most in team history through the first four games. Brett Favre threw for 1,315 yards through four games in 1999. Both QBs have now thrown a franchise-high 12 TD passes in the first four games – Rodgers this year and Favre in 1996. Additional coverage - Packers vs. Broncos