Monday, November 30, 2009

Phil Dawson, NFL Quarterback

November 26, 2009

By Steve King

Observers of sports the world over ask: "Is there nothing that Phil Dawson cannot do?" Steve King profiles the rocket-armed passer with the lifetime QB rating of 108.

Phil Dawson may not only be the best kicker in Browns history.

He could also retire someday as one of the highest-rated passers in club annals.

Much to the disbelief of his two sons, Dru, 8½, and Beau, 6½.

“When I play catch with them in the back yard, they always tell me I don’t throw good passes that they can catch,” Dawson said before practice on Wednesday as the Browns began getting ready to meet the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Dawson, the last member of the 1999 expansion Browns still playing anywhere in the NFL, threw the first pass of his 11-year career last Sunday when, on the “sleeper” play, he took a direct snap from Ryan Pontbriand on a fake field-goal attempt and fired a 10-yard strike to the right to wide receiver Mike Furrey, who had sauntered in off the sideline pretty much unnoticed.

The play, which started with just 13 seconds left, came on fourth-and-9 from the Detroit 21. It almost worked for a TD. Safety Louis Delmas realized at the last moment that Furrey, a former Lion, was out there and sprinted out to him to make the touchdown-saving tackle at the 11.

On the next play, Dawson, a right-footed kicker but a left-handed thrower, settled for a real field-goal try, which he hit from 29 yards, to give the Browns a 27-24 halftime lead. They eventually lost 38-37.

The pass gives Dawson a career passing rating of 108.3.

Punter Brian Hansen, who completed an 11-yard pass for a TD to wide receiver Webster Slaughter on the exact play – but on a fake punt – in 1991 at Washington, has a 152.1 rating. The Browns lost that game, too, 42-17.

Throwing the football runs in the Dawson family. His father was a quarterback at Baylor. Dawson estimated that he threw three or four times while serving as a kicker at Texas. He also kicked and was a defensive tackle at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, but never had the occasion to try a pass.

On Sunday, the play was set up perfectly. For the longest time, the Lions had no idea what was going on.

“I didn’t want to turn and look out that way, but I could see out of the corner of my eye that no one was anywhere near Mike,” Dawson said. “They didn’t see him. At that point, I’m thinking, ‘Come on, come on, spot the ball and let’s go.’ ”

But, as the officials did all day as the Browns ran the no-huddle offense, they held the ball before spotting it so as to give the Lions a chance to line up. That gave Delmas the time to spot Furrey, but no other Lion did.

Dawson’s pass was a laser-shot and right on target. In truthfulness, it was thrown better than some of the passes made this year by Browns quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.

“What I really liked, too, is that my boys were at that game. They saw me make that throw,” Dawson said.

So they know their dad can thread the needle, but they probably wonder why, oh why, he doesn’t do it when they’re playing catch with him in the back yard.

In other late-afternoon note from Wednesday, the Browns were awarded linebacker Matt Roth off waivers from the Miami Dolphins. He takes the roster spot of linebacker Josh Stamer, who was released on Tuesday.

Originally a second-round choice of the Dolphins, at No. 46 overall, in the 2005 NFL Draft, the fifth-year pro had 23 career starts with 158 tackles, 12.5 sacks, five passes defensed and six forced fumbles.

The 27-year-old had a big 2008. After moving from defensive end to linebacker, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder started 14 of 16 games and registered career-highs with 53 tackles, five sacks and four passes defensed. He also forced two fumbles.

Roth was a four-year letterman at Iowa, where he was teammates with Browns guard Eric Steinbach for his first two seasons.

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