ATLANTA – It was probably less than a foot from being a new franchise record.
Mason Crosby’s 56-yard field goal in the third quarter of Sunday night’s 25-14 win at the Georgia Dome was spotted mere inches from the Atlanta 47-yard line. Had it been back just a tad more, it would have been a 57-yarder, but instead of a new franchise mark, Crosby tied his own record, first set in last year’s season-opener in Philadelphia.
“It felt good coming off my foot,” said Crosby, who drilled the long kick right down the middle and with a few yards to spare. “That’s one of those where you hit it, you turn and start celebrating pretty quick. Especially inside, if you feel good about it, it’s usually going to stay pretty true.”
Crosby felt good about this night during warm-ups when he hit a couple of 60-yarders. He said the coaches were operating with the Atlanta 40-yard line as the mark for the offense to reach, putting his range at 58 yards for a field goal.
“You always set that, but you don’t always get that in a game,” Crosby said. “We came close today. It was awesome.”
The long kick cut Atlanta’s lead to 14-9 with 5:28 left in the third quarter, as Crosby was responsible for all of the Packers’ scoring to that point.
After the offense scored a couple of touchdowns, Crosby capped a four-for-four night on field goals with a 30-yarder with 1:10 left in the game that iced the contest. Crosby’s first two field goals were from 32 and 35 yards. The four field goals tied a career high for Crosby.
Crosby also took advantage of the indoor conditions and the new kickoff spot at the 35-yard line to boom six touchbacks on his seven kickoffs. Atlanta returner Eric Weems, who burned the Packers with two long kickoff returns last season, only got one kickoff return for 28 yards.
“I think I took a step forward with that,” Crosby said of his kickoffs. “I felt like I was really hitting the ball flush, getting behind it and hitting it exactly how I wanted to. I was happy with how they were flying and I want to carry that over into next week.”
Adjusting on the fly: When veteran left tackle Chad Clifton went down with a hamstring injury with 9:45 left in the second quarter, the Packers were forced to make a major adjustment on the offensive line.
Rookie first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod came off the bench to play right tackle, while second-year man Marshall Newhouse – who was already filling in for an injured Bryan Bulaga at right tackle – was moved over to left tackle.
Neither Sherrod nor Newhouse had played those positions in a game before, but the offense didn’t flinch. It helped that Atlanta’s top pass-rusher, John Abraham, was out with an injury, but even so, defensive ends Ray Edwards, Lawrence Sidbury and Kory Biermann combined for just two sacks in the game.
“We’re a team that’s all about overcoming adversity,” Newhouse said. “In this league there are too many good players to not have rough patches. We know how to fight through the rough patches and we know how to stick together as one and come out on top.”
A left tackle in college at TCU, Newhouse has worked at both right and left tackle in practice. Before Bulaga was hurt, he was taking a lot of Clifton’s reps when the veteran rested. Since stepping in for Bulaga, he’s been getting up to speed at right tackle.
He has quickly developed into an incredibly valuable and versatile lineman for this offense.
“It’s not easy but I feel like they wouldn’t put me in that position if they didn’t think I could do it and succeed and help us win,” Newhouse said of switching sides. “When I first came here, I said I’d do anything to help the team win, whatever that meant, and I meant it. Hopefully I can continue to do that.”
Spreading it around: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers set a new personal best by utilizing 12 different pass-catchers on Sunday night. His previous high in a single game was 10.
The only active player at an eligible position who did not catch a pass for the Packers was rookie tight end Ryan Taylor.
The 12 different pass-catchers tied the franchise record for a single game. Quarterback Brett Favre completed passes to 12 different receivers back on Dec. 22, 2003, in Oakland, the night after Favre’s father died.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that ’03 game was the last time any quarterback in the NFL completed passes to 12 different players, until Rodgers on Sunday night.
Receiver James Jones led the Packers with five catches for 140 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown. The 140 yards marks a career high for Jones, topping his 132 yards at Jacksonville in 2008.
“It’s always nice to get involved,” Jones said. “As a receiver you like catching the ball, but we’ve got so many weapons, so at the end of the day here we know it’s about winning. You want to have 150 yards every game, but if you get the chance, you just have to make a play.”
Streak broken: When Ryan Grant fumbled on the Packers’ first possession, it was his first fumble in 333 rushing attempts.
Grant’s last fumble on a running play had come in the third quarter against Detroit in the 2008 regular-season finale. He did have a fumble on a reception in Week 2 of 2009. Additional coverage - Packers vs. Falcons