Here’s the crazy (funny?) part: The entire plan for the Green Bay Packers on Monday night was to determine how to handle Raiders star edge rusher Maxx Crosby.
How to slow him. How to make him as little a factor as possible.
That’s what they focused on. What they believed could lead to offensive success and a possible victory.
Yeah. Good luck with that.
They failed miserably.
Crosby is one of the NFL’s finest players and proved so again in a 17-13 win at Allegiant Stadium, one the team desperately needed for a multitude of reasons.
Sigh of relief
It allowed them to avoid a 1-4 start. It allowed them to create a positive vibe around a team that has lacked such for weeks now. It allowed them to take a collective sight of relief.
It was Crosby who led what was a spirited defensive effort, roaming all points of the front in a way that even outdid his normal possessed mannerisms.
“That dude lives possessed,” Raiders linebacker Robert Spillane said. “Does everything at full speed — games, practice, film. He shows up every time the lights come on. I’m just glad to be working behind him.”
Crosby was his All-Pro self from the opening snap. He totaled five tackles (four for loss), a sack and four quarterback hits. On his sack of Packers quarterback Jordan Love, Green Bay ran two tight ends to block him and Crosby brushed them aside like practice cones.
He plays with the level of emotion that makes it impossible for others not to follow.
The Raiders have been unable to create turnovers for the longest time. But they forced three Monday, two interceptions from Spillane and one from Amik Robertson in the end zone that ended Green Bay’s final possession.
It’s an improvement for sure, a side of the ball that feeds off Crosby. The fifth-year pro is hardest on himself.
“I’m doing pretty well,” said Crosby, whose five sacks puts him on pace for a career high. “I take it all personal. I want to be the best. Week to week, just get better. Every time I go out there, I just try to take it personal. We had to win this game — if we had gone to 1-4, things would have really gotten real …”
Here’s a sequence when you knew things were a bit different.
The Packers hit for a 77-yard completion midway through the third quarter on a blown coverage by the Raiders. It gave Green Bay first-and-goal from the 3.
Loss of 2.
Gain of 1.
Settle for a field goal.
“We didn’t freak out,” Crosby said. “We talk about playing complementary football. They made a big play. But we didn’t freak out. We just stayed together and played for each other … find the solution instead of worrying about all the (bleep) we can’t control.”
A turning point?
They know what is said, written, talked about, strewn across social media. And most of it has been justified. They have shown flashes of being a competent defense — see the second half against the Chargers last week and most of Monday — but there has been much to be desired at other times.
Maybe this is a turning point. They say turnovers come in bunches, that it’s like a giant wave you ride once one follows another and another and so on.
For his part, Crosby remains the one constant. Mr. Reliable. The Packers made a concerted effort to slow him and didn’t come close.
“Maxx is a future Hall of Famer who works his butt off each and every day,” running back Josh Jacobs said. “He’s reaping the benefits. He has a different type of motor. He has some generational stuff. To see him put it all together like (on Monday) is a beautiful thing. Nobody works like he does.”
Green Bay tried. It failed miserably.
Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at email@example.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.