Place-kicker Dawson warms up to coming storm vs. Bills
Not that anyone from Cleveland or Buffalo is amazed, but Eskimo weather is forecast for Sunday’s Browns-Bills game.
A big snow is blowing in.
“Is it?” Browns veteran Phil Dawson said. “Well ... cowboy up.”
The 31-year-old Texan is in the sunniest stretch of his long place-kicking career in Ohio.
He could be a hero Sunday on a plot of land that hasn’t seen a game like this since the old stadium sat there.
“I expect it to be an electric environment,” Dawson said.
Protocol calls for fans to be quiet when quarterback Derek Anderson is calling signals, but Dawson said they can let it all hang out if he’s lining up for a big field goal.
“I love it loud,” Dawson said. “Then you can’t hear the defensive guys yelling at you.
“It’s kind of like shooting a free throw. If it gets real quiet, you can hear that one guy in the stands. When it’s real loud, it almost helps me concentrate a little more.”
This season means a little more because of Dawson.
His bank-shot 51-yard field goal at Baltimore led to a 33-30 overtime win.
His late 49-yard field goal Sunday proved to be a key to beating the Jets.
He is 22-of-25 on field goals for a team in the playoff race. Among kickers with at least 100 field goal tries, Dawson ranks fourth in NFL history in conversion rate at 82.8 percent.
“He’s going pretty good,” Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel said. “He’s one of the better kickers in the NFL. A lot of teams would like to have his production.”
Reliable pro that he is, Dawson does not come with a guarantee.
His 40-yard try as time expired at Oakland got blocked. The Browns lost, 26-24.
His 52-yard try on the final snap at Pittsburgh got blown short. The Steelers won, 31-28.
Forget about snow. Cleveland’s December winds are as predictable as lottery numbers.
“They’re calling for 20- to 30-mile-an-hour winds Sunday,” Dawson said.
>From 1999 to 2006 in Cleveland Browns Stadium, he has kicked nine December field goals. He also has missed four times, all on kicks in the 30- to 39-yard range.
Whatever the weather or history, he is steeling himself to this personal reality:
“My job is to make kicks, 20 points ahead or 20 points behind, whatever our record,” he said. “And the standard is make 100 percent of your kicks.”
Frozen fields and hurricane winds always are a potential Cleveland reality.
“On any field where footing is an issue,” Dawson said, “you’ve got to be a little more under control, wear the right shoes, try to figure out the best combination.
“It obviously has a big impact on the game. You can’t get as much push, as much power. You’ve got to get creative on kickoffs.”
Dawson is savoring this playoff drive with as much satisfaction as any Brown. He is the only one left on the roster from the comeback season of 1999.
He has kicked in 176 of the 179 games the expansion-era Browns have played, including preseason and postseason.
Postseason? That covers one game in 2002.
“I’m just excited that our fans who have been with us all these years finally have a game at home to cheer that really matters,” Dawson said.
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail email@example.com
Dawson in December
A look at Phil Dawson’s field goal tries in eight previous Decembers at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Makes 29, 29, 25, 33, 29, 40, 21, 39, 33.
Misses 30, 39, 34, 31.
A fairly amazing feat
Phil Dawson ranks among the most accurate place-kickers in NFL history. The top four (minimum 100 field goal attempts):
1. Mike Vanderjagt, 230-of-266, 86.5 percent.
2. Shayne Graham, 147-of-153, 85.0 percent.
3. Matt Stover, 430-of-512, 84.0 percent.
4. Phil Dawson, 178-of-215, 82.8 percent.