GREEN BAY—There was undeniable concern amongst the 70,567 fans inside Lambeau Field.
Kicker Mason Crosby’s 30-yard field goal in the first quarter hit the left upright, but fortunately went through. Then his 53-yard try on the final snap of the first half missed well to the right, and his kickoff to open the second half hooked out of bounds.
To everyone watching, there was still worry. To everyone but Crosby, that is.
The veteran kicker fired up the crowd with a 47-yard field goal in the third quarter and then calmly sealed the game with a 31-yarder with four minutes left in a 23-14 Packers victory over the Vikings.
“This team, we find ways to win,” Crosby said. “Even though my kicks might not all go through and other things might happen on the field, we’re finding ways to win.
“That’s what I did today. I found a way to bounce back from the miss at the end of the half and make some kicks I needed to in the second half.”
Crosby almost didn’t get to try the 47-yarder, which could go down as the official slump-buster if he’s truly out of his funk. Trailing 14-10, the Packers faced fourth-and-7 from the Minnesota 29 and originally left the offense on the field to go for it.
The Vikings didn’t like how they matched up against the Packers’ four-receiver set, though, and called timeout. During the break, Mike McCarthy felt the “tempo” of the offense had been disrupted and decided to take the field goal, and Crosby drilled it.
His 3-for-4 day makes him only 10 of his last 19 attempts, but it’s a start. He said he misjudged the wind on the 53-yard try at the end of the half.
Crosby noted that his counterpart, Minnesota's Blair Walsh, may have done the same thing at the end of the game, as the Vikings kicker hung a 42-yard try out too far to the right at the same end of the field.
“I felt on the field and in my set-up that the wind was coming from right to left, and I just played it out a little too much, and it didn’t come back,” Crosby said.
The wind cost Crosby a 55-yarder against the Giants last week that was struck very well. That’s probably why he “smiled” on the 30-yarder that bounced favorably off the upright, because he finally caught a break. The bottom line is while the statistics still don’t look great, Crosby feels he’s hitting the ball solidly, and he’ll go from here.
“I feel good with my process, I’ve felt good with how I’m approaching my game,” he said. “Keep making the ones I need to make here inside of 50 yards and then just try to squeeze out a couple long ones if those situations come up again.
“For me it’s kick by kick.”
Solid sub: An ankle injury to right tackle T.J. Lang in the first half forced the Packers to insert Don Barclay for his first action from scrimmage, and the undrafted rookie from West Virginia held his own.
Barclay said his linemates showed him a lot of support in the huddle and helped to settle him down. He was called for two holding penalties, but one was offset by a roughing-the-passer call on the Vikings that wiped out an interception, and the other was declined. He did his share of work in the run game, though, as the Packers gained a good percentage of their rushing yards over the right side.
“A couple plays might not have been the prettiest, but I thought I went out there, got the job done and played my butt off,” Barclay said. “I was just out there scrapping.”
His biggest block might have been one he didn’t actually throw. On James Starks’ 22-yard TD run around right end in the third quarter, Barclay pulled to the outside as tight end Ryan Taylor blocked down. That left Barclay in space against linebacker Erin Henderson, who made a move toward the inside to avoid Barclay’s diving cut-block attempt.
“I didn’t actually hit him clean, but he stayed behind me, which allowed Starks to go outside,” Barclay said. “I think if (Henderson) would have run over top, I might have been able to cut him.”
Either way, the move was effective, because it took Henderson out of the play as Starks raced untouched down the sideline for the go-ahead score.
Fallen teammate: Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who is said to have committed a murder-suicide on Saturday, was a college teammate of Packers rookie safety Jerron McMillian’s at the University of Maine.
McMillian said he played with Belcher for two years before Belcher broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent.
“You’d never expect it for the type of person he was outside of football,” McMillian said. “To have something so tragic happen, sometimes I just don’t understand.
“He was a good guy. He laughed a lot, but he was always serious about his work. When it was time to work, he was tuned in, focused and real emotional about how you do things.”
McMillian said he last spoke to his former teammate at the end of the preseason in August, when the Chiefs played a game at Lambeau Field. He saw him then and spoke with him by phone a couple of days later.
After hearing the news on Saturday, McMillian said he talked with several former Maine teammates and they were all in disbelief.
“It’s always something outside of things that you don’t really know about and don’t have a clue,” McMillian said of the off-the-field issues that any player might have to deal with. “And then you do find out and it’s like, dang, if only I could have done something to help him.” Additional coverage - Packers vs. Vikings