GREEN BAY — For as long as Mason Crosby can remember, his younger brother, Rees, has sent him a motivational text message before every NFL game he’s ever played in.
The snippets of wisdom, which Crosby describes as “epic,” are meant to provide a little inspiration and final pep talk for his older brother before he takes the field.
On Sunday night, it wasn’t just Rees’ words that provided Crosby with inspiration as he made the longest game-winning field goal in NFL playoff history to lift the Packers to a 34-31 win over the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional playoffs.
It was the blue band the Packers’ kicker wore on his right wrist with “We stand together” written on the side. It was in honor of Rees’ wife, Brittany, who was diagnosed last month with ovarian cancer at 27 years old.
With Brittany recently beginning chemotherapy, Rees wasn’t able to make the 3-hour drive from Georgetown, Texas, to join Crosby and the rest of the family at AT&T Stadium.
Still, the band helped Rees and Brittany be with Crosby on the field during what the 10-year veteran freely admits was the biggest kick of his NFL career.
“They weren’t able to be there, but I know they were there in spirit,” said Crosby on Monday. “Their faith is so strong and they have so much support and are really positive about it. I know they’ll keep fighting through it.”
As Crosby acknowledged, ovarian cancer is incredibly rare for women under 40. According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, two-thirds of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are older than 55.
The entire family has been wearing the bands in support of Brittany since her diagnosis, with Crosby’s parents, Jim and Karen, bringing him one during a recent trip to Green Bay.
Crosby actually wore it last week during the Packers’ 38-13 win over the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card game, but you couldn’t see it because of the long sleeves he was wearing to shield himself from the freezing temperatures.
While Rees and Brittany weren’t able to be among the more than 93,000 in attendance in Dallas, Crosby still had plenty of support on Sunday. His parents, sister, two nephews and niece all were on-hand to watch him propel the Packers into next Sunday’s NFC title game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The situation couldn’t have been any more pressure-packed for Crosby, who needed to make a 56-yard field goal to give Green Bay a 31-28 lead with 1 minute, 33 seconds remaining and then another from 51 to win the game as time expired. The 56-yarder was the longest postseason field goal in team history.
Afterward, punter/holder Jake Schum said Crosby had “ice water in his veins” during the last kick, which he actually made twice with the Cowboys using a timeout before his first attempt.
“That’s my biggest kick that I’ve had and I’ve had a 10-year career here,” said Crosby, who extended his NFL postseason record to 23 consecutive made field goals on Sunday. “To be able to have a 51-yarder in divisional playoffs down in Dallas, such a big game like that, it was special.”
Crosby was immediately mobbed as soon as the field goal went through the uprights. In the midst of the pile, he recalled his helmet getting knocked slightly off his head and left tackle David Bakhtiari trying to pick him up.
Once the commotion settled down on the field, Crosby met with his family down in the gathering area. A tornado warning in the area delayed the Packers’ bus ride to the airport and afforded them a few more minutes together after they made their way down from their seats high inside AT&T Stadium.
While his sister-in-law fights her battle, Crosby exchanged a few text messages with his brother, who couldn’t have been happier.
“He’s so pumped,” Crosby said. “They’re pretty epic motivational texts. He really puts a lot of thought into it. I really appreciate him so much and his support over my career. I think about them all the time.”
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