"It was a huge team performance and we have come on in leaps and bounds sine the start of the championship. After the Wales game we wanted to prove we could see off teams," said Croft.
England started magnificently and were never behind in a game that saw them end France's run of 10 successive wins at Stade de France. Manu Tuilagi sprinted clear for the first try and then Ben Foden bagged a second try at the posts.
England were five points up at the break and extended their advantage to eight points with an Owen Farrell penalty. The visitors' survived 10 minutes without Charlie Sharples, who was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, but then conceded two silly penalties that allowed the French to hit back to within two points.
That set-up a dramatic finish in which Croft's try seemed to have put England out of sight. But France hit back with a corner try from Wesley Fofana which Morgan Parra converted superbly off the touchline.
That left the French two points short and they conjured up a drop goal platform for Francois Trinh-Duc in the closing minutes, but the replacement outside half saw his effort drop just under the cross bar.