After his kickers had the best seats in the house at last week’s preseason opener, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy went the extra mile to ensure Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio would get some work on Saturday night at St. Louis.
On Green Bay’s first series of the game, the Packers had first-and-5 from the Rams’ 17-yard line. Rather than unleash Aaron Rodgers, who came out of the gates hot, he gave the ball to Eddie Lacy on three consecutive plays. After a holding penalty set up a third-and-11, Rodgers threw quickly to Jarrett Boykin rather than trying to move the chains.
“I don’t ever play for the field goal, but I think the level of the call would probably better answer your question,” McCarthy told reporters after the Packers’ 19-7 victory. “When you have No. 12 under center, your opportunity to be aggressive is enhanced greatly, so I would say that. But I don’t ever call a play and say, ‘Please don’t convert.’ That’s not accurate, but I did not have a problem with our kickers getting opportunities tonight. That’s what we needed.”
What McCarthy got was some confirmation of perhaps what the team has been thinking all along, with Crosby getting the better of Tavecchio in the first marquee kicking showdown of the summer.
Entering the game, Tavecchio had the clear advantage in his battle against seven-year pro Crosby.
In their lone battle under the lights, Crosby missed 3-of-8 field-goal attempts on Family Night. With Tavecchio having gone 6-for-8 at the scrimmage, he boasted 37-of-41 accuracy during training camp compared to 32-of-41 for Crosby.
Against the Rams, however, it was Crosby who went 3-of-3, with conversions from 34, 48 and 30 yards. Tavecchio went 1-of-2, missing wide left from 49 before hitting from 38. Crosby’s make from 30 was blocked but found its way through the uprights, anyway.
“I felt like I hit good balls, so that was a positive,” Crosby said. “I’ve just got to build off of that. I hit my 48-yarder as well as I wanted to.”
On three deep kickoffs, Crosby’s kicks went 4, 10 and 8 yards deep in the end zone while Tavecchio’s kickoffs went to the goal line and 8 yards deep.
Crosby has bounced back from the Family Night debacle but couldn’t make up any ground. At practice this week, Crosby went 17-of-18 but Tavecchio went 18-of-18. The games will carry the most weight, of course, putting added emphasis on Friday night’s game against Seattle and the finale against Kansas City.
“It’s a kicking competition, and it’s important for both of them to improve off of Family Night, which was really the last time they had a chance to kick in front of live action,” McCarthy said. “The opportunity did not present itself last week. Frankly, it was important to get them the opportunities. I think the way the game was played or called reflected that. We’ll continue to let those guys battle it out. We’ll try to kick them as much as we can on a six-day week leading up to Seattle.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.