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Kicker in groove after rough 2012

Fickle fans now happy with Crosby

The Packers' Mason Crosby kicks during a Dec. 8 game against the Falcons in Green Bay. Cfrosby has converted 87 percent of his kicks in 2013.
The Packers' Mason Crosby kicks during a Dec. 8 game against the Falcons in Green Bay. Cfrosby has converted 87 percent of his kicks in 2013.

GREEN BAY, Wis. — He left the crammed visitors’ locker room in Baltimore, boarded the team bus and couldn’t help himself.

Mason Crosby needed to scroll through his Twitter feed after this Oct. 13 win. At the end of the first half, the Green Bay Packers kicker missed a 44-yard field goal. Green Bay forced a fumble and then drilled a 31-yarder before halftime.

Crosby went 4 of 5 and Green Bay won, 19-17.

“So literally on Twitter in that 30-second time frame, it was the craziest and funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Crosby said. “It was ‘I can’t believe you missed!’ and all these bad tweets about me missing the kick. And then, literally, I get another kick right before half and it’s like, ‘Great kick! Way to end the half!’”

The reason for such schizophrenic support is 2012. This time last season, Crosby’s employment was put on trial by the public every Monday.

But the coaches stood by the player. Through the season. Through the off-season. Through training camp.

And after hitting a NFL-low 63.6 percent of his kicks, Crosby is in a 2013 groove. After 13 games, he’s 29 of 33, good for 87.9 percent. Both Crosby and his position coach agree that this has been his best season.

With or without No. 12, points are at a premium for these Packers. There’s a reasonable chance Crosby will tilt the balance these final three games. Somehow, he has buried 2012 from his memory to become the guy more likely to save the Packers than to cost them.

“Through all of last year,” Crosby said, “the frustrating part was I know what I’m capable of. So, yes, there was lots of frustration. But I knew I could work through all of that.”

After polishing off sushi with wasabi Thursday afternoon – “I like spicy,” he says – Crosby takes a drink of water at his locker. He’s a more relaxed guy this December. Crosby responded to the summer challenge from Giorgio Tavecchio, to the pay cut, to the daily pressure.

As special teams coach Shawn Slocum said, “When the guy’s having success you tend to be in a better mood.”

Through a rough intrasquad scrimmage and one loud “Make the kick!” from Slocum over the speaker during another practice, Crosby performed. Statistically, this has been Crosby’s best season, but Slocum also notes this is the most confident Crosby has been.

He wasn’t necessarily angry in 2012 — Crosby was frustrated. On the phone, he talked to his father weekly. At home, he talked to his wife nightly.

Every athlete preaches the virtues of not getting too high or too low. Crosby lived it.

In 2010, he won a Super Bowl. Into 2011, he made 23 straight kicks. Then, the avalanche began. Crosby went 2 of 9 from 50-plus.

Those messages from fans had a more malicious tone then. Said Crosby, “Some people did get ridiculous on Twitter with the cussing, the threats, things like that.”

Death threats? Crosby pauses, thinks back and says, “No, just harsh words.”

His wife Molly told him to stop reading it all. In a strange way, Crosby enjoys reading the good and the bad. It forces him to stay in the middle.

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