Tuesday, November 18, 2008
November 18, 2008
By Mary Kay Cabot
Orchard Park, N.Y.- What could Phil Dawson possibly do for an encore after his 49-yarder in the Snow Bowl against Buffalo last year?
How about a career-long 56-yard game-winner with 1:39 remaining to beat the Bills, 29-27, on "Monday Night Football"?
"It was amazing because we won the game," Dawson said. "I just want to make the kicks to help the team win. To see the happiness on my teammates' faces makes it all worthwhile."
Dawson, who made five field goals on the night, including the 200th of his career, was thrilled to help get the monkey off his 4-6 team's back.
"We finished," he said. "Who says we can't finish? Hopefully it will be the first of many to come."
He also empathized with Bills kicker Rian Lindell, who pushed his game-winning attempt wide right with 38 seconds remaining.
"We've all been there," said Dawson, who had the wind on his side at the end whereas Lindell did not. "He's a great kicker and he'll come back from that."
Dawson said the 56-yarder was beyond his limit, "but at the end with the game on the line, you go for it. I gave [coach] Romeo [Crennel] the nod and he had the confidence in me to do it. It was spur of the moment."
Holder Dave Zastudil turned and embraced Dawson after the kick sailed through.
"It was unbelievable because he works so hard in practice," Zastudil said. "To make a game-winner like that is amazing. I knew the ball would carry a little bit better at that end of the field. It was an outstanding kick for a guy who's having an outstanding year. It cleared by a few yards."
Zastudil described it as "one of the best kicks I've ever seen and he did it twice in a row against the same team in back to back years."
Special teams coach Ted Daisher said this week Dawson's leg is even stronger this year than last year.
"I thought as you get older you get weaker, but he's getting stronger," Zastudil said.
Said Daisher during a press conference on Friday: "The year before I got here, Phil had had a tough year. We were looking at him and saying 'we have to get this guy back on track.' If we were to line up and have to kick a game-winning field goal, there's no one I would rather have than Phil Dawson. He's a great leader, a good person, he is talented, and he works meticulously at his job. [Phil] has not missed under 50 yards this season."
Dawson's first kick of the night, a 40-yarder, was the 200th of his career. He's 19-for-19 under 50 yards and it was his third straight game with a kick of 50-plus yards - a first in Browns' history. The 56-yarder was his 11th career game-winner.
"I'm grateful to have the opportunity to coach a great kicker like Phil Dawson," Daisher said.