Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Phil Dawson: Sunday's Unsung Hero

By Chris Pokorny

December 09, 2007

Amidst the Cleveland Browns' 24-18 victory over the New York Jets, there was an unsung hero. He may not get the publicity for it due to a few other plays that happened in the game, but without him, we could very well have lost. Who was it?

Was it Joe Jurevicius, who was on the receiving end of two of the Jets' onside kick attempts? No.

Was it Jamal Lewis, who ran pretty hard all day long, especially on his spectacular 31-yard scamper up the middle to "close out" the game? No.

Was it Brandon McDonald, whose shut-down coverage, pass deflections, and key second half interception prevented the Jets from hitting the big play most of the game? No.

Was it Braylon Edwards, who caught a touchdown fade pass off the shoulder of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis? No.

Was it Sean Jones, whose first-half interception at the goal line stunned the Jets offense and allowed the Browns to never fall behind in the game? No.

If it wasn't any of them, then who was it?

It was Phil Dawson. People have asked the question time and time again: what's going to happen when Dawson needs to be counted on, in tough weather conditions, to make a clutch field goal? Granted, the conditions weren't making the field horrible, but Dawson beautifully drilled a 49-yard field goal attempt in the precipitation near the start of the fourth quarter.

If the Browns had punted there, or missed the field goal, we would have only led 14-6. With only a one possession lead, the Jets' strategy at the end of the game surely would've changed, and could've ultimately led to several different scenarios in which we would've lost.

Props to the Browns for winning, but Dawson's field goal here was as important as his 51-yarder off the Dawson Bar against the Baltimore Ravens. When those kicks figure so critically into two victories, despite the big playmakers in Anderson, Cribbs, Edwards, Winslow, and Lewis, it could be Dawson providing the "X-Factor" to lead us to the promised land.

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