When the Green Bay Packers drafted Anders Carlson in the 2023 NFL draft to be legendary kicker Mason Crosby’s replacement they were now putting their hopes and prayers on a new player for the first time in 16 years.
It turns out Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was doing a lot of praying during Carlson’s kicks this season, as reported by Fox’s Tom Rinaldi in the Packers’ 24-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The season got off to a great start for the Auburn graduate — he was perfect on kicks the first five weeks. But soon the misses began. One extra point here. A field goal there. Another missed extra point. Another missed field goal.
The biggest one came on Saturday night.
With a chance to put the Packers ahead by seven points in the fourth quarter against the top-seeded 49ers, Carlson’s 41-yard field goal missed wide left. It proved to be costly in the eventual three-point loss.
It was Carlson’s fifth straight game with a missed kick and 10th in the last 12 games. For the season, Carlson missed 13 kicks. His field goal percentage of 81.8% in the regular season ranked 26th for all kickers and his 87.2% on extra points ranked 32nd.
The Packers’ lead remained 21-17 with 6:18 left in the game. The defense couldn’t stop the 49ers on the next possession. Brock Purdy marched his offense down the field before All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:07 left.
Jordan Love and the offense still had three timeouts at their disposal to go down and attempt a game-tying field goal. Carlson, however, wouldn’t get his chance at redemption. Love threw his second interception of the quarter on the drive. Game over and season over.
Yes, there was plenty of other blame to go around in this latest playoff loss to the 49ers (that’s five straight). Joe Barry’s unit struggled to get off the field on third downs all night (the 49ers finished 10 of 16 on the critical down). There were dropped interceptions by the defense. Love had two interceptions in the fourth quarter. And the offense stalled early in the game, including on a failed fourth down attempt at the 49ers 14-yard line early in the second quarter. None of that mattered to many fans as much as Carlson afterward.
Carlson took the brunt of the frustrations after the heartbreaking loss.