Super Bowl notebook

Kicker Crosby takes dead aim

By Monique Walker and Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / February 6, 2011

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DALLAS — Packers kicker Mason Crosby began his NFL career in a way that made league history back in 2007.

In his first game, Crosby kicked a 42-yard game-winning field goal with two seconds left for a 16-13 victory over the Eagles. That made him the first player in league history to kick a game-winner and a field goal of more than 50 yards in his first game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Crosby hasn’t kicked a game-winner in the final seconds since.

If Super Bowl XLV comes down to a field goal tonight, Crosby said, he is ready. He has missed three chances to clinch a victory for the Packers since his auspicious debut, but that doesn’t mean the Packers aren’t confident in him.

“I have a lot of faith in Mason Crosby, especially indoors,’’ said coach Mike McCarthy. “He has kicked the football very well. The time off last week really helped both Mason and [punter] Tim [Masthay]. I have all the faith in the world in Mason Crosby.’’

Four of the last 10 Super Bowls have been decided by 3 points, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar result tonight.

This season, Crosby converted 22 of 28 field goal attempts, with two misses coming from more than 50 yards.

“I have been in positions of kicking game-winners,’’ Crosby said. “I have talked to a couple guys, and everyone says the same thing: just embrace it. Enjoy it. Don’t get sucked up in the moment that it’s a game-winner.

“Just think that it’s that next kick. It’s a kick that you have done a hundred times and just go out and hit it.’’

Crosby, a native of Texas, said he has dreamed of opportunities to kick the winner in a Super Bowl.

“It’s a special moment,’’ he said. “I’m most looking forward to getting on the field and hitting that first kick, either getting the game started if it’s a kickoff, or hitting a field goal to get some points on the board.’’

Them again Packers general manager Ted Thompson doesn’t have the fondest memories of facing the Steelers in the playoffs. Thompson was a linebacker with the Houston Oilers (1975-84) when they lost to the Steelers back-to-back years in the AFC Championship game in the late ’70s.

Now Pittsburgh is in his way again.

“Those doggone Steelers,’’ said Thompson. “It’s not unusual, though. They’re usually at the end of this thing, so it’s a big challenge for us.

“We know the tradition, we know the kind of players they have, the kind of organization they have. But, we’re trying to win a world championship — it’s supposed to be hard.’’

Special incentive The Lombardi name is respected throughout the NFL, but most of all in the land of the Packers. For Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Wisconsin for the first time since 1997 is a feeling he would cherish.

“I think every coach that’s ever had the opportunity to step on the playing field, or even on the practice field, is aware of Coach Lombardi’s presence and the importance and the impact that he’s made on the coaching profession,’’ said McCarthy, who is in his fifth season at the Packers helm. “When you talk about excellence and discipline, work ethic, he was the one that really brought all that to the forefront.

“He’s such a big part of the history and tradition of the Green Bay Packers, something that we celebrate all the time as an organization — something that’s being celebrated right now on Broadway — and we take a tremendous pride and focus on bringing that trophy back where it belongs.’’

Switch is a snap Pardon the pun, but thanks to Maurkice Pouncey’s bad ankle, Doug Legursky will be the center of attention on Pittsburgh’s offensive line.

Legursky, a second-year player out of Marshall, will make his first NFL start at center in the Super Bowl with Pouncey, the Steelers’ Pro Bowl rookie, unable to play because of an ankle sprain suffered in the AFC title game.

Though Pouncey was the team’s first-round draft pick, it was Legursky who was penciled in as the starter before training camp. Pouncey won the job from him, but the two say there is no animosity.

“We are good friends,’’ Pouncey said. “I don’t know why everyone thinks he’s not [a good player]. He plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers — how many linemen do you know that aren’t good and play for the Pittsburgh Steelers?’’

Legursky got the full backing of coach Mike Tomlin, who said the 24-year-old’s “get in where I fit in’’ attitude has endeared him to teammates, including the man he’ll be snapping to, Ben Roethlisberger.

“I think he’s going to put more pressure on himself than anybody needs to,’’ Roethlisberger said. “That’s the biggest thing I’ll say to him is, ‘Listen, you’re good enough. You don’t have to do anything special. Just be yourself.’ He knows how to play the game.’’

The Steelers placed Pouncey on injured reserve and promoted center/guard Dorian Brooks from the practice squad.

He had coach covered During the 1994 college football season, Virginia defeated William & Mary, 37-3, an easy win for a team that finished at No. 15 in the final Associated Press poll.

William & Mary featured a senior receiver named Mike Tomlin, while Virginia had a fast-ascending sophomore linebacker named James Farrior.

Years later, Tomlin became Farrior’s head coach.

“I don’t know if he tackled me or not, but he definitely said I stepped in front of him to get an interception,’’ recalled Farrior. “I wish I would have known then that he was going to be the head coach — I would have thought about him a little differently in that game.’’

Tomlin, who had four catches for 58 yards that day, has said that he put a strong tackle on Farrior after the interception.

Lone Star status Six members of the Steelers’ 53-man roster are Texas natives: offensive linemen Tony Hills and Jonathan Scott, receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Arnaz Battle, and defensive linemen Casey Hampton and Ziggy Hood.

“It’s a headache from the standpoint of my family wanting tickets and stuff like that, but it’s a good problem to have,’’ said Hampton, who grew up in Galveston an Oilers fan. “I’ll take that problem all day long.’’

Then there’s right tackle Flozell Adams, who spent the first 12 years of his career with the Cowboys before being cut last offseason and signed by Pittsburgh during training camp. He’s making his first Super Bowl appearance.

Monique Walker can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @monwalker; Shalise Manza Young can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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