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Crosby absolved of some blame for late misses

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  • Rob DemovskyESPN Staff Writer

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    • Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
    • Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A day after Mason Crosby missed three potential game-winning field goals before finally sealing the victory on his fourth try, coach Matt LaFleur absolved the 37-year-old kicker of some of the blame.

“I think there’s just some things that we absolutely need to clean up just from an operation standpoint,” LaFleur said Monday of the Packers’ overtime win at the Cincinnati Bengals. “You can’t put all of that on Mason. I thought there’s some areas that we have to make sure we get corrected, and we will.”

In the special teams world, “operation” is code for snap, hold and protection.

Long-snapper Hunter Bradley has struggled with snap accuracy. Holder Corey Bojorquez is new this season and there have been protection issues — a near block on the game-winning field goal in Week 3 and a block that was called back by a penalty in Week 4.

“I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus, so I’m not going to expand on that,” LaFleur said. “Sorry, you’re going to have to watch the tape, evaluate it yourself and come up with your own conclusions there.”

Crosby on Sunday said he’s his own harshest critic and would fix whatever went wrong. He had made 27 consecutive regular-season field goals, including his first three Sunday against the Bengals. He then missed from 36 yards with 2:12 left in regulation, from 51 on the final play of regulation and from 40 after Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell intercepted Joe Burrow on the first play of overtime.

Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson hit the right upright and missed from 57 yards with 21 seconds left in regulation and then missed from 49 after Crosby’s first overtime miss.

Crosby, the team’s career scoring leader, finally ended it when he made a 49-yard field goal with 1:55 left in overtime.

“All I can think about is that last kick right now,” Crosby said. “You see the faces of your teammates and what those guys put on the line to continue to get in that position. I just want to come through for them. Everyone has all the faith in the world in me, and I have all the faith in the world that I’m going to keep getting those ops.

“I’m so happy I was able to come through there at the end, and I’m going to celebrate it. I’m a realist and I’m honest with myself and I’m probably my harshest critic, so I’m going to make sure that I do what I can and we’ll clean up anything on the other side if there are any operation or protection or things like that. Up front, we moved some guys around and the protection seemed really great all day.”

The Packers don’t just have field goal operation problems to worry about. They may have lost another cornerback. Kevin King couldn’t finish Sunday’s game because of a shoulder injury apparently aggravated further on a collision with Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd in the third quarter.

“He was playing a lot of that game or part of that game with basically one arm,” LaFleur said of King, who has a history of shoulder injuries. “So I thought he competed well and was playing really, really well.”

Last week, the Packers lost All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander, also to a shoulder injury. He was placed on injured reserve with the hope that he can return at some point this season.

The Packers could be without two of their top three cornerbacks for Sunday’s game at the Chicago Bears. Rookie Eric Stokes, Isaac Yiadom and Chandon Sullivan finished the game against the Bengals as the team’s top three cornerbacks. The Packers also signed cornerback Rasul Douglas off Arizona’s practice squad last week, but he was inactive against Cincinnati.

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